Zhukov saves best for last in Colts win

On a night where Maksim Zhukov didn’t need much offence, the Barrie Colts goaltender made sure to save his best stop for last.

The Russian import kicked aside all 19 shots he faced, but it was a huge glove save with just 50 seconds remaining on the last shot of the game that helped the Colts seal a 1-0 win over the North Bay Battalion in OHL action, Nov. 16, at the Barrie Molson Centre.

With the Barrie hanging on to a slim lead and the North Bay net empty for an extra attacker, Zhukov would save the game when he robbed Brad Chenier off a scramble in front. Chenier’s first shot in front was stopped, but the Battalion winger pounced on his own rebound and backhanded a shot over Zhukov’s pad that was heading into the net just inside the near post. That was until Zhukov got his glove hand across to keep the puck out in an impressive game-saving stop that helped earn the Vegas Golden Knights prospect his first career OHL shutout.

“It was fumbling around the crease there, but (Zhukov) was solid all night,” Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk said of his goaltender, the game’s first star.

Ryan Suzuki, with his eighth goal of the season, scored on the power play early in the second and it was all the offence Barrie (11-9-1) would need.

The Colts had plenty of prime scoring opportunities to add to their lead, but hit two posts and couldn’t find a way to get another past former teammate Christian Propp, who made 36 saves and had a big game in goal for North Bay (10-9-0-1).

“Their guy played good,” Hawerchuk said of Propp. “I thought we got a little fancy at times, we could have probably looked to shoot it and looked for rebounds instead of that one extra play.”

While Barrie carried a large edge in play, Hawerchuk admits his club, coming off a 6-3 win in Hamilton the morning before, wasn’t at its best.

“It seemed like the ice was pretty jumpy too,” he said. “Pucks weren’t settling down, but overall I thought we played a good, solid game. Especially after playing a school-day game. Everybody was out of sync. I didn’t think we had our best legs, but we found a way.”

The Colts will look to make it three-straight wins when they host the Kitchener Rangers on Nov. 18. Barrie heads into action this weekend seventh in the Eastern Conference, but only three points behind the second-place Mississauga Steelheads.

“We talked earlier in the week, we wanted a good weekend,” Hawerchuk said. “We wanted to jump up in the standings. It’s pretty tight. If you have a poor week, you drop down. If you have a good weekend, you’re back in the hunt.”

ICE CHIPS: Game time Saturday is 7:30 p.m. . . Ben Hawerchuk will serve the last game of his five-game suspension on Saturday.

Photo: Maksim Zhukov stopped all 19 shots he faced to lead the Barrie Colts to a 1-0 win over the North Bay Battalion in OHL action on Nov. 16. It was the first OHL shutout for the Vegas Golden Knights prospect. Terry Wilson/OHL Images photo

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