Frontenacs Down Two Games To The Favoured Colts
Pictured is Colts' forward Anthony Camara, who was ejected in Saturday's OHL playoff game against the Kingston Frontenacs. He has 3 goals in the game and a half that he has played in this Eastern Conference quarter final series.
Despite giving it their best effort at the Barrie Molson Centre, the Kingston Frontenacs return home down two games to none in their Eastern Conference quarter final playoff series to the heavily favoured, Barrie Colts. Kingston had no answer for former Knight, Andreas Athanasiou in Game One, falling 3-1 on Thursday night, or for Barrie's big line of Mark Scheifele, Anthony Camara, and Zach Hall Saturday night in a 7-4 loss.
Kingston took the early lead in Game 1, on a goal by NHL draft prospect, Ryan Kujawinski, just 1:09 into the first period to stun the home crowd. Kujawinski took a perfect cross ice feed from linemate, Billy Jenkins, and slid the puck under the pads of Barrie's starter, Mathias Niederberger for the 1-0 lead. Buoyed by their early start, the young Frontenacs took the play to the more playoff experienced Colts, for the remainder of the period, and importantly, stayed out of the penalty box. Kingston outshot Barrie 17-14, with most of the Barrie shots coming in the last 4 minutes of the period, after they had killed off a Kingston 5 on 3 advantage. In fact, Kingston held Barrie without a shot until 9 minutes into the 1st. Overaged, import goaltender, Niederberger was the best Colt in the first period, and kept the Colts close.
A turnover by a Kingston defenseman just inside his own blueline, during the first minute of the second period cost the Frontenacs the lead, and drew the Colts even. Andreas Athanasiou chased down a loose puck behind Kingston's net, and passed it out to a wide open Steven Beyers, in the slot, who just flipped it past Kington's starter, Mike Morrison, to tie the game at one. Moments later, Athanasiou burst up the middle of the ice causing Kingston's captain, Cody Alcock to haul him down. It took the #1 OHL powerplay just 16 seconds to give the Colts a 2-1 lead. Mark Scheifele banged home a rebound off of a Ryan O'Connor shot at 3:55 of the 2nd period. Barrie led 2-1 after two, and as they were 29-0 in the regular season, when leading after 2 periods, the outlook for the Fronts wasn't good.
Barrie took over the game and outshot the Fronts 30-17 in periods 2 and 3. Kingston couldn't find that equalizing goal, despite having 7 powerplay opportunities. Just like in the regular season, Kingston's powerplay had no creativity, or sense of urgency, and went 0-7 on the night. Barrie was 1-4 on their PP. With the Kingston net empty, Mark Scheifele iced the game with an empty net goal in the game's final minute.
Mike Morrison was solid in goal for Kingston, and had help from his goal post friends, as Barrie clanged 4 off of the crossbar or post in the game. The game had it's share of big hits, most notably rookie Sam Bennett's open ice hit on big Mark Scheifele. Bennett was arguably Kingston's best forward, in his first OHL playoff game, and the first for most of his teammates.
On Saturday night, the same two goalies got the call for Game 2 of the series. Only 1 would finish the game. This one took on a nasty tone, as there were plenty of hits to the head, and from behind penalties, two ejections, and plenty of bad blood. It has the feel of a playoff series now.
An extra forward took the pre-game skate for Barrie, as Mark Scheifele felt ill prior to game time, but the Jet's prospect looked anything but ill on this night, as he had a goal and two assists in Barrie's 7-4 win.
The Colts were determined not to start slowly, as they had in Game 1. During the game's first shift, Scheifele started a play that would end up in the back of Kingston's net, just 17 seconds into the game. Anthony Camara would bat one into the Kingston cage on a scramble to give the home side an early 1-0 lead. Less than a minute later Mitchell Theoret would intercept a Fronts' clearing attempt in the high slot and snap one through Morrison's legs to give Barrie a 2-0 lead.
It was clear from the beginning that the Colts were not afraid to take penalties against the young Fronts, and take penalties they did. Kingston's powerplay was much better on this night, and accounted for all 4 of their goals (4-9). It took a 5 on 3 Kingston powerplay for the Fronts to break out of their 0-9 series PP stat. A beautiful 3 way passing play from Sam Bennett to Warren Steele to Spencer Watson gave goalie Mathias Niederberger no chance on Kingston's first goal at 14:25 of the 1st period. The Fronts had climbed back into the game, down 2-1 by the end of the 1st.
Kingston started the 2nd period on another powerplay and Mikko Vainonen blasted one from the point to tie the game at 2. It looked as though Kingston was back in it, and would avoid another 2nd period collapse. It was just the opposite, however. Barrie's top line took over after the game was tied. Mark Scheifele fought off a Kingston defender, and set up linemate Anthony Camara, who fired one over Morrison's glove to put the Colts up to stay. Morrison seemed to be fighting the puck on this night. Scheifele would beat Morrison on a Barrie powerplay from much the same spot, and high, as well, to make it 4-2 and Andreas Athanasiou would end Morrison's night less than a minute later, as he would steal the puck from a Kingston defender, and make no mistake. Morrison had given up 5 goals in 30 minutes, and backup, Colin Furlong was summoned. Just two minutes later, Athanasiou would set up Devon Rymarchuk for his first OHL playoff goal, in his 7th game. It was 5-2.
Prior to the end of the 2nd period, Henri Ikonen would score Kingston's 3rd powerplay goal of the game. Jake Dotchin took exception to something during the play and slashed Ikonen, resulting in another 2 minute minor and a 10 minute misconduct, as well. This was after Anthony Camara had taken exception to a penalty that he had taken and proceeded to fire the puck into the crowd, causing him to be ejected from the game. The official ruling was Misc. Throwing Equipment, which may not result in a suspension. Henri Ikonen took a 4 minute hit from behind penalty in the 2nd, as well.
The teams continued with nastiness in the 3rd period, as Colts captain, Ryan O'Connor was ejected for a check to the head, and Fronts defenseman, Roland McKeown took a 2 minute penalty for checking to the head. The teams traded goals in the 3rd to make the final score 7-4 for Barrie.
For the second game in a row, former Knight, Andreas Athanasiou was the game's first star. Kingston will need to find a way to catch up to, and contain, this Detroit Red Wing prospect, if they have hopes of extending this series past 4 games. They will need to stay out of the penalty box, and limit their giveaways, as well.
Kingston proved that they could play with the Colts, as they had during the regular season, as well. They also proved that they could make Barrie pay for taking penalties, as their powerplay went 4-9. Barrie's PP was 2-5. The series has taken on a playoff type feel, with many big checks being doled out. There have been no fights, so far, in the series, but this may change in Kingston, where the Fronts went 17-13-1-3 in the regular season, and 1-1 against the Colts. Barrie was 17-15-1-1 away from the Barrie Molson Centre. It remains to be seen if any players will be suspended, or injured after last night's game.
Games 3 and 4 will be played at K-Rock Centre on Monday and Wednesday nights. Both games will start at 7 PM.