Colts Win 7-4 Over Steelheads in Central Division Clash
The Colts welcomed the Mississauga Steelheads to the Barrie Molson Centre for the first time this season for a pivotal Thursday night Central Division showdown. The Colts sit just one point ahead of Mississauga, while having four games in hand on the Steelheads.
Thursday’s game marked the third time the two teams have squared off with both games having taken place at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre. The Colts defeated the Steelheads 6-0 back on November 1st while the Steelheads returned the favour as they won 6-3 just over a month ago on December 6th.
Mississauga would be without their leading scorer, Alexander Nylander, as he was returning from Helsinki, Finland after competing for Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship. Thursday’s game also mark the return of starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood as he returns from his suspension as well as his stint with the Canadian World Junior Team.
The beginning of the game started with both teams holding down their respective defensive zones as chances were scarce. It was evident that the game had big implications as the game was chippy and intense from puck down with each side throwing the body with more force and emphasis.
After Brandon Prophet took a hooking penalty 8 minutes into the game, Mississauga looked to capitalize on the man advantage. However, it was the Colts would open up the scoring. After Andrew Mangiapane’s one timer missed the net, the puck would bounce off the boards to Kevin Labanc where he would fire the puck towards Steelheads’ netminder Jack Flinn. The hockey god presented Barrie with a gift, as the puck would be ricochet off of Josh Burnside’s leg right to Mangiapane in front of the net. Mangiapane made no mistake and fired home his 19th of the season to give the Colts a 1-0 lead. The goal would also mark Mangiapane’s 200th career OHL point and 45th point on the year.
Following Mangiapane’s marker, Mississauga would control the majority of the period as they peppered Blackwood with shot after shot. However, the Colts netminder would act like a brick wall and turned away all 14 shots he saw in the frame. Blackwood’s strong play would pay off as just under four minutes left in the period, Labanc would shovel home the Michael Webster rebound to make it 2-0 Colts. The goal was Labanc’s 22nd of the season as Brandon Prophet would draw the other assist on the goal. The Colts entered the second up 2-0 as shots in the period were 14-7 Steelheads.
It wouldn’t take Mississauga long to cut into the Colts lead as the Steelheads would score 53 into the second to make it 2-1 Barrie. Following a Brandon Prophet checking to the head penalty he received at the conclusion of the first, Michael McLeod would drop the puck in the slot to a pinching Stefan LeBlanc as he put one by Blackwood for his 6th of the season.
At the 8-minute mark of the period, the Steelheads would tie it up at 2-2 as Andrew Mangiapane would accidentally shoot one in his own net. Following a Nicolas Hague shot, Mangiapane would try to wrap the puck around the boards and out of the zone. Unfortunately for Mangiapane and the Colts, he would miscalculate of the angle of the clear and put the puck behind Mackenzie Blackwood. Hague would be credited with the tally, giving the rookie defenseman his 4th goal of the season.
After allowing Mississauga to climb back into the game, the Colts would shift to another gear as they back to throw the body to generate lost momentum. Their handwork and aggressive play paid off as they would regain the lead. Rasmus Andersson would send the puck in front of the Steelheads net where Kevin Labanc would gain control of the rubber and fired it over the shoulder of Jack Flinn for his second of the game and 23rd of the season. Andrew Mangiapane would record the secondary assist on the goal.
Three minutes after his second goal, Labanc would again be involved in another Colts goal as he would send a beautiful fake slap shot pass to Justin Scott who would bury his 15th goal of the year past Flinn to reclaim the Colts’ two goal lead. Justin Murray recorded the secondary on Scot’s marker. The Colts would head into the third with their two-goal lead back in tact, as shots in the frame were 7-6 Steelheads, 21-13 Steelheads for the game.
The Colts entered the period with hopes of avoiding what happened in the second. It was not a promising start however as Mississauga would cut it to 4-3 just 1:41 into the frame. After Michael Webster was sent off for slashing, the Steelheads would go to work on the power play as Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian would work a give and go, finished off by McLeod as he buried his 16th of the year past Blackwood, who had no chance to make the save.
The Steelheads would tie it at 4-4 just 19 seconds after McLeod’s goal, marking the second time that they have comeback from a two goal deficit. Following Daniel Mutsuhito-Bagenda being tripped on a breakaway, Everett Clark would follow the play up and buried the loose puck by Blackwood for his 7th of the year to once again tie up the game.
The Colts would not be rattled by blowing their second two goal lead of the game as 1:47 after Clark’s goal, Labanc would follow up his one timer as the puck with a second opportunity as he wired it by Flinn for the hat-trick and his 5th point of the night. The goal was Labanc’s 24th of the year as Mangiapane and Matt Brassard drew the assists on the goal.
At the 10-minute mark of the period, Barrie would claim their third two-goal lead of the contest. After Everett Clark was sent off for holding, the Colts’ power play would go up against the OHL’s best penalty killing unit. However, the Colts would only need nine seconds as Kevin Labanc’s pass would hit off the leg of Justin Scott and past Flinn for his second of the game and 16th of the season as Rasmus Andersson would record the other assist. With his assist on the goal, Labanc would record his 6th point of the game, which is one short of the franchise record that he tied last week against North Bay.
After Scott’s second goal, the Colts’ focused quickly shifted to defence to help avoid giving up another two-goal lead. The Colts possessed the puck for the majority of the final frame as they had countless chances to extend their lead to three. Anthony Stefano would add an empty netter with just over a minute left to seal a 7-4 Barrie victory. The Colts now have a three point lead in the Central Division with 47 points and sit just 2 points back of the Kingston Frontenacs for the Eastern Conference lead.
Mackenzie Blackwood would shut the door the rest of the way as he stopped 32 of 36 shots for his 17th win of the year. With his 200th point, Andrew Mangiapane becomes the 10th Barrie Colt to record 200 points. Kevin Labanc, with his six-point night, has now recorded at least six points in two of his last three games and has recorded 21 points (10 goals and 11 assists) in his last 6 games.
The Colts will travel to the Sleeman Centre tomorrow night for a date with the Guelph Storm before returning to BMC for a Saturday night contest with the Windsor Spitfires. For tickets to that game, visit the BMC Box Office or click here.