Big games require big-time performances and the Barrie Colts certainly got their share in a 4-1 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs, April 6, at the Barrie Molson Centre.
With the win, the Colts now lead the best-of-seven OHL Eastern Conference semifinal two games to none, as the series shifts to the Roger’s K-Rock Centre in Kingston for game three on April 8.
Tied 1-1 heading into the third period, a trio of Colts would deliver with the game on the line. Zachary Magwood scored what proved to be the winner, just 4:47 into the frame, when he took a drop pass from Lucas Chiodo, walked into the left faceoff circle and rifled a shot past Jeremy Helvig’s glove.
Then, top NHL draft prospect, Andrei Svechnikov stepped up to seal the win. With the Fronts looking for the equalizer, the Russian import pick stripped Kingston’s Sean Day of the puck at centre, walked in alone and backhanded a shot into the top corner with just 1:21 remaining. Twenty seconds later he picked off a Jason Robertson pass back to the point and raced down the ice to slide the puck into an empty net.
“I just stopped the defenceman, took the puck and shot on goal,” Svechnikov said, of his heist on Day.
But all this was possible for the Colts thanks, in large part, to the play of goaltender Leo Lazarev. With the biggest performance of the night, the overager had at least three saves that easily could be considered OHL save-of-the-year candidates.
He saved his best for the midway through third with the Colts hanging on to a 2-1 lead. Parked in front of the net, Frontenacs centre Gabriel Vilardi got the puck, spun around, and went to slide it into the open cage only to have Lazarev reach back across the crease to make a spectacular stick save that brought the Barrie Molson Centre crowd of 3,326 to its feet.
“I just reacted,” said Lazarev, who made 40 saves on the night. “I saw the guy was going to score, so I just tried to do something to help the team win. It hit my stick.”
Svechnikov had nothing but praise for his teammate between the pipes.
“He’s a great goalie,” he said of Lazarev. “He must have made at least 10 (spectacular) saves tonight.”
Justin Murray, on a feed from Magwood, with Barrie on the power play, opened the scoring just 3:33 into the game, before Robertson’s sixth of the playoffs tied things up at 6:58 of the second.
“We’ve just come together as a team,” Lazarev said of the Colts, who have now won five straight playoff games. “We stay together in bad or good situations, so we take care of each other.”
The Colts will look to take command of the series on Sunday, but Lazarev knows it won’t be easy. The Fronts won both games at home against the Colts this season and he’s quite familiar with how tough it is to win at the Rogers K-Rock Centre, having played there numerous times when he was with the Ottawa 67’s.
“It’s going to be much harder,” Lazarev said. “It’s a really tough building.”
The Colts had plenty of jump in the opening two games. The work ethic has been there and Svechnikov says that needs to continue.
“We feel good and we just have to play our way,” explained the Russian player, who now has four goals and eight points in just four playoff games.
ICE CHIPS: The OHL Priority Selection gets underway at 9 a.m. on April 7. Barrie has pick number 16 in the first round. The Colts made a pair of deals leading up to the draft on April 6. They moved a fourth-round pick (78 overall) to the Sudbury Wolves for a ninth rounder (161) in this draft and a third-round pick in 2019. Barrie also moved its third-round pick (59) and fourth-round pick (80) in this year’s draft to the Windsor Spitfires for picks in the third round (56), fifth round (87) and sixth round in 2019.
Photo: Leo Lazarev made 40 saves, several of the highlight-reel variety, to lead the Barrie Colts to a 4-1 win over the Kingston Frontenacs in OHL playoff action. Terry Wilson/OHL Images photo