Fresh off a stinging 5-4 loss to the Peterborough Petes and the reality that the road to a playoff berth is now that much steeper, the Barrie Colts quickly turned their focus elsewhere.
They have to.
With only five games remaining in the OHL regular season and their next contest on the road against the Niagara IceDogs less than 14 hours away thanks to daylight saving time, the Colts could ill afford to wallow in despair after the tough loss, March 9, at the Barrie Molson Centre.
“We just got to get back at it Sunday afternoon,” said Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk, whose club remains three points back of the North Bay Battalion for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. “We got a little time change, so we’ll be at it quick. Let’s forget this one and worry about the next one.”
A win against the Petes would have moved the Colts to within a point of the Battalion, but with a March 12 game in North Bay looming large the opportunity to get into the playoffs is still in reach.
For Colts forward Ryan Suzuki, the focus has to be on what they can control and that’s their five remaining games.
“We can’t rely on other teams to lose for us,” said Suzuki, who scored twice including a power-play marker that tied it 4-4 early in the third period before Peterborough’s Cameron Butler buried the winner a little more than seven minutes later. “We just have to come out with our best effort every night.
“If we do that, we’ll come out with the win more often than not.”
Down 4-3 heading into the final frame, Suzuki looked to have the equalizer on the power play but a lengthy review revealed the Colts were offside entering the Petes zone. Suzuki got it right back when seconds later he one-timed a feed from Tyson Foerster from the top of the left faceoff circle over the glove hand of Peterborough goaltender Hunter Jones.
The Petes would get a big break on the winner when the puck rolled off the stick of Jason Willms inside the Barrie blue line right to Butler, who walked in and ripped a shot just inside the far post past Barrie goaltender Jet Greaves.
Hawerchuk felt for his captain, who has been a force for the Colts in their late push for a playoff spot.
“It’s too bad,” Hawerchuk said of the unfortunate play. “He’s such a heart and souler.”
The Colts pressed late, but couldn’t come up with the equalizer.
“Anytime you lose it (late) or you give up a goal, it’s always tough,” Suzuki said. “It’s nice to see a lot of battle and compete right to the end, so it’s a good sign for us. We just have to continue that into the next game.”
Barrie (26-33-3-1) also got power-play goals from Willms and Foerster, who finished the night with three points.
Ryan Merkley, with a pair, Nick Robertson and Zach Gallant also scored for the Petes (31-30-1-2), who are just a win or Barrie loss away from clinching a playoff berth.
Game time for the March 10 contest against the IceDogs at the Meridian Centre is 2 p.m.
photo: Ryan Suzuki scored twice, but it wasn’t enough as the Barrie Colts fell, 5-4, to the Peterborough Petes in OHL action, March 9, at the Barrie Molson Centre.