As far as first impressions go, Matej Pekar made a pretty darn good one in his OHL debut. The Buffalo Sabres prospect scored twice and added an assist as the Barrie Colts throttled the Owen Sound Attack, 9-2, in their 2018-19 regular season opener, Sept. 20, at the Barrie Molson Centre.
Barrie’s second-round pick in this year’s CHL Import Draft, the 18-year-old Czech Rep. forward was sporting a big grin after his impressive performance. Nice, but Pekar knows it’s back to work tomorrow.
“I enjoyed it as much as I could,” the Sabres’ fourth-round pick (94 overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft said outside the Colts dressing room. “I loved it, but I can’t stop it. I have to keep going like that and keep the pedal down.”
Playing the wing on Barrie’s top line alongside Ryan Suzuki and Lucas Chiodo, Pekar and his new linemates hardly looked like a trio playing its first game together. They finished the night with four of Barrie’s goals and a combined seven points.
“Both are obviously great players,” said Pekar, who earned first-star honours on the night. “It’s way easier to adjust to players like this when you get them on a line. Both of them are great, top-notch players. They see the ice unbelievable. We were talking after my (late second-period) goal that Suzuki passed to me and like how he’s got eyes on the back of his neck. Yeah, he’s good.”
A self-admitted pest, Pekar also had that side of his game on display at times.
“I kind of love it,” Pekar said of getting under the skin of his opponents. “I love being that pest. It’s fun for me, I enjoy it. If there’s a scrum, you’re probably going to find me there too.”
Tied 1-1, the Colts took over the contest in the second period, scoring six straight times to blitz the Attack.
“I think we took a deep breath and kind of calmed down,” said Pekar, who admits he and his teammates were feeling some opening-night jitters early on. “We took a deep breath and realized we didn’t have to shaky because of it being the home opener.”
The Colts spread out the offence on the night, with eight different players finding the back of the net. Ben Hawerchuk, Sam Rhodes, Tyler Tucker, Jaden Peca, Riley Piercey, with his first OHL goal, Chiodo and Suzuki all scored.
Russian import goalie Maksim Zhukov steered away 35 of 37 shots to record the win in his OHL debut.
Daylon Groulx and Markus Phillips scored for Owen Sound.
The Colts return to action Sept. 22 when they host the defending OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Former Barrie triple-A midget centre Tyson Foerster recorded his first OHL point after helping set up Piercey. . . Joey Keane was in the lineup after being sent down by the New York Rangers late Wednesday night. . . Mike Webb joins Todd Miller as an assistant coach alongside head coach Dale Hawerchuk.
Photo: Rookie import Matej Pekar had an impressive OHL debut, scoring twice and adding an assist to lead the Barrie Colts to a 9-2 romp of the Owen Sound Attack in their season opener. Terry Wilson/OHL Images photo