Colts march past Troops
The Barrie Colts and North Bay Battalion picked up right where they left off a season ago.
And once the pleasantries were out of the way, the Colts showed off their brand-new, playoff-tested improvements.
The top line struck twice and Mackenzie Blackwood made 34 saves to lift Barrie to a 3-2 win over North Bay in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday.
“We were good at sticking to our gameplan,” said Colts defenceman Jonathan Laser. “They’re a good, tight-checking team and I think we did a good job of being consistent throughout the game.”
With the win, Barrie takes a 1-0 series lead headed into Sunday’s contest.
“It was just a matter of capitalizing,” said Battalion defenceman Marcus McIvor. “They capitalized a little more on their chances than we did and it’s always going to be a close game whenever we play them.”
The Colts and Battalion didn’t take long to get re-acquainted to one another in post-season action.
Almost every whistle saw the two teams come together and begin pushing and shoving, continuing over from when these two squads met one another in the conference semifinals a year ago.
“There’s definitely a lot of familiarity there,” McIvor said. “I know, in my five years, I’ve definitely played them at least 40 times.
“They know how we’re going to play and we know how they’re going to play, so it’s just a matter of executing.”
The rough stuff would occasionally lead to power plays, and that was where the scoring in the first period would take place.
Barrie got the game’s first man advantage, and late in the power play, Rasmus Andersson took a high shot that hit the glass behind Battalion starter Jake Smith and ricocheted back off.
Smith turned all the way around to try and follow the puck, and as a result, wasn’t in position when Andrew Mangiapane snapped one in to give Barrie a 1-0 lead.
North Bay would get its own power play soon after, and evened things up thanks to a pretty tic-tac-toe play between Kyle Wood, Nick Paul, and eventually, Nick Moutrey, who swept the puck under Colts goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.
The teams continued to fight for opportunities and both had a few good chances, but Smith and Blackwood were there to make the big stops.
“Blackie has been unbelievable for us all season,” Laser said.