The Barrie Colts are off to the OHL Finals after a thrilling seven game series win over the first place Belleville Bulls.
It was a battle of the two top teams in the Eastern Conference and everyone had this series going the distance and right down to the wire and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
A back and forth series with the teams splitting the opening two games in Belleville then the Colts won back to back games at home in dramatic fashion, winning both in overtime.
Anthony Camara was the hero in Game 3, scoring the winner with just 5 seconds remaining in the first overtime as he wired a shot past fellow Bruins prospect Malcolm Subban.
Brendan Lemieux scored in similar fashion in Game 4 to give the Colts the overtime victory as he spun and fired a shot past Subban for his first career playoff goal.
Malcolm Subban stole games five and six, holding the Colts to just two goals, sending the series to a one game winner take all back in Belleville.
The Bulls stormed out of the gate and outshot Barrie 12-0 through the first ten minutes of the game and held a 1-0 lead.
The tides shifted in the second half of the period and it was the Colts tying the game with a shot off the stick of Aaron Ekblad. Barrie outshot the Bulls 10-0 to end the period.
Tyson Fawcett picked the right time to score his first career playoff goal as he tipped in a Ryan O’Connor blast on a Barrie powerplay and the Colts took a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes.
Belleville pressed for the tying goal but the dagger was driven into the Bulls chances when O’Connor blasted home a one-timer past Subban to seal the series and the victory. 3-1 Barrie the final in game seven and they’re off to London to face the Knights for the J. Ross Robertson Cup starting Friday night.
Mathias Niederberger and Malcolm Subban put on a goaltending clinic throughout the seven game series and showed why they were both nominated for goaltender of the year.
The two goalies made highlight reel saves all throughout the series and kept their teams in games when they needed it most.
The team that scored first lost every game in this series except Game 2 when Barrie shutout Belleville 5-0.
The Colts battled a lot of adversity throughout the series as Anthony Camara was suspended for Game 6 for a cross checking major he received in Game 5. Jake Dotchin was then suspended for five games for a check from behind he threw Game 6. Dotchin is eligible to return for Game 5 of the final.
Both suspensions were very questionable especially after Jordan Subban and Joseph Cramarossa were both handed five minute majors and game misconducts for separate incidents in Game 3 and were given no extra discipline.
It was another challenge the Colts had to overcome but a bright spot on the series was their captain returned for Game 5 after serving his 10 game suspension.
The overager made an immediate impact on the Barrie blueline when he returned and the veteran defenceman was all smiles as he was handed the Bobby Orr Trophy after the Colts Game 7 victory.
While O’Connor was out of the lineup it has been a coming out party for the Colts first overall pick in 2011. Aaron Ekblad has dominated every inch of the ice. He has been impossible to beat in the defensive zone and has been a force on offense.
Ekblad has shown a new side to his game these playoffs, an offensive side that wasn’t there in the regular season.
The 6’4 defenceman has rushed the puck and since being put on the top powerplay unit he has four powerplay goals. Ekblad has already matched his goal total from the season with seven goals through just 15 playoff games as the Bulls had no answer for his big shot. The Belle River native had nine points in the series with four goals.
Mark Scheifele continues to lead the OHL in scoring as the Jets prospect racked up 11 points in the series and has 27 through 15 games.
A hometown boy was a thorn to the Bulls side as Belleville native Zach Hall had an outstanding series, picking up 11 points in six games. Hall missed Game six with an injury.
Barrie had 5 regulars with at least 29 games played without a goal in the regular season; Alex Lepkowski, Alex Yuill, Michael Webster, CJ Garcia and Cody Brown. They have just two regulars without a goal in the playoffs; Webster and Dylan Corson. CJ Garcia (1 game) and Justin Scott (4 games) have also not scored but have seen limited action.
Slumping Colt: After tearing up the first two rounds of the playoffs, scoring six goals and 11 points in seven games, Andreas Athanasiou has gone scoreless through the last eight and has only registered three assists.
Familiar Territory: Andreas Athanasiou and Mitchell Theoret went head to head in last year’s OHL Final. Athanasiou on London and Theoret on Niagara, this year they’re linemates for the Colts.
Barrie and London met twice in the regular season. London won 3-2 in a shootout in Barrie on October 20th and won 5-3 at home on November 30th.
This is Barrie’s fourth trip to the OHL Finals. They won the title in 2000 over Plymouth, lost in 2002 to Erie and lost in 2010 to Windsor. This is the first ever time the Knights and Colts have met in the playoffs.
OHL Final Schedule:
Game 1 - Fri May 3 7:05 PM Barrie at London
Game 2 - Sun May 5 7:05 PM Barrie at London
Game 3 - Mon May 6 7:35 PM London at Barrie
Game 4 - Wed May 8 7:35 PM London at Barrie
Game 5 - Fri May 10 7:05 PM * Barrie at London
Game 6 - Sat May 11 7:35 PM * London at Barrie
Game 7 - Mon May 13 7:05 PM * Barrie at London