Barrie Colts combine for 10 goals in a pair of weekend wins; five players bulge the twine
Barrie Colts forward Luke Bignell, right, scrambles to corral a loose puck in front of Niagara IceDogs goaltender Stephen Dhillon during their OHL battle at the Barrie Molson Centre on Saturday night. KEVIN LAMB/PHOTO
The Barrie Colts came into this past weekend without their top two goal-scorers, but you wouldn’t know that based on the numbers they put up.
Barrie scored 10 times in two games, a 4-3 overtime victory over the Wolves in Sudbury on Friday and a 6-1 dismantling of the Niagara IceDogs at home Saturday.
“Any given night, we have four lines that can contribute,” said Colts centre Jason Willms. “Game in and game out, we’re not a two-line team or even just two or three players.
“We have four solid lines that can contribute on any given night, so that’s huge for us.”
Andrei Svechnikov, who has scored 10 goals in as many games, has been out for almost a month with an injury.
He was joined on the sidelines by fellow 10-goal man Zach Magwood, who got injured in Peterborough a week ago, and set-up man Ryan Suzuki, who was winning a silver medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge out west, was also unavailable for the last pair of contests.
Without that trio suiting up in their top six, the Colts still had plenty of firepower.
“I think it says something about the guys we have in there,” said Colts centre Kyle Heitzner. “It’s a deep team we have.
“Sure, it’ll be great to get those guys back, but it’s good that other guys have been stepping up and making the most of their opportunity.”
Heitzner was one of the beneficiaries of the extra ice time, seeing some power-play and four-on-four action on Saturday.
In both situations, he found his way onto the score sheet.
“It’s huge,” Heitnzer said. “Just to get that trust from the coach is a good reward, and when you make the most of it, it’s rewarding for myself and for the team.”
Heitzner got the first goal for Barrie on Friday in Sudbury, with Willms picking up the first of his four markers on the weekend shortly after.
Defenceman Joey Keane, in the midst of a three-game goal-scoring streak, gave Barrie a 3-2 lead before Sudbury tied it up in the third, sending the game to overtime.
Ben Hawerchuk, who also struck in both contests last weekend, would win the game for the Colts in the extra period.
Almost two months into the season, Barrie has found offence almost across the board.
“I think it’s huge to our depth,” Willms said. “Obviously, those are three very skilled players (that are out of our lineup) and a huge part of our core, but from the guys we had last year, everyone has come back hungrier and wanting to win.
“No matter who is out of the lineup, we have guys ready to step up and we proved that.”
Willms would continue his offensive push on Saturday night, getting his first-career Ontario Hockey League hat trick.
Now, he’s joined Svechnikov and Magwood with a double-digit goal total.
“I think that it’s got a lot to do with confidence,” said Willms, who initially displayed some surprise upon realizing that he was a point-per-game player 18 contests into the season. “Last year was a long year and everyone came back stronger.
“Everyone really worked hard and we’re starting to see the results out there.”
Willms, who was playing alongside Jaden Peca and Kirill Nizhnikov on the Colts second line this past weekend, was scoring as a top-six forward, but Heitzner, on the checking line with Sam Rhodes and Nate Allensen, was also producing.
In fact, Heitzner’s cross-ice feed to Rhodes on Saturday night set up the Virginian for his first-career marker in junior.
“For Rhodesy, it was pretty awesome to pass that to him,” Heitzner said. “It was a special moment for him, getting his first OHL goal, and that was my first two-point game there, so I was really happy for him.”
The Eastern Conference-leading Colts will get Suzuki back for sure next weekend, as they look to continue on their high-scoring ways.
“I think the biggest thing was playing as consistent as we do and sticking to the gameplan,” Heitzner said. “If we continue to do that on a daily basis, things will go well.”