Hawerchuk the hero as Barrie knocks off Saginaw 5-4
Barrie's Ben Hawerchuk hits the brakes as he watches an attempt go past Saginaw goalie Brendan Bonello. Hawerchuk would score twice, including the overtime winner. MARK WANZEL PHOTO
There were some real positives in all of facets of the game.
The Barrie Colts were able to ride those to an overtime victory.
Ben Hawerchuk's snapshot 1:28 into the extra period lifted the Colts to a 5-4 victory over the Saginaw Spirit Thursday night.
“We were moving the puck well in overtime, and (Lucas) Chiodo and (Justin) Murray were moving it really good,” Hawerchuk said. “I just happened to get it in the slot, shot it, and it went in.”
With two teams on the outside of their respective playoff races looking in, both saw a real opportunity at victory.
The Spirit came out hard right off the bat, and just 29 seconds in, Hayden Hodgson took a wrist shot and beat Colts starter and former Saginaw goalie David Ovsjannikov cleanly for the opening goal.
Barrie would respond with an almost identical shot, but from the other side of the ice.
Hawerchuk carried the puck forward, but lost it in the slot.
It was knocked back towards Zach Magwood, and he made one quick step before snapping a shot past Saginaw netminder Brendan Bonello to tie the game at 1-1.
One shift later, the Colts took the lead when Curtis Douglas got his stick on a puck in front of the net to put it past Bonello for his first-career Ontario Hockey League goal.
“I got that beautiful chance (from Roy Radke) in the first and absolutely fluffed it, so I really wanted to get one,” Douglas said. “I got it and buried it, and it was an amazing feeling.
“I almost blacked out so I don't really remember much of it, but I saw it hit (Bonello's) pads and then the mesh, and then I kind of freaked out.”
Ovsjannikov steadied his play after allowing the opening shot to beat him, as he followed Keaton Middleton across the high slot for a save before denying Jesse Barwell on a rebound at the side of the cage.
The Colts would increase their lead to 3-1 before the period was out, with the contributors of their first goal returning for a sequel.
This time, it was Magwood dropping the puck to Hawerchuk as he raced in on the right side, and there was no hesitation before the first-line centre blasted a shot off the crossbar and in, giving Barrie a 3-1 advantage after a period.
“Starts are huge,” Hawerchuk said. “You want to get the first one, but we didn't get it tonight.
“We battled back though, and the boys showed some good stuff in (the first).”
Despite being in separate conferences and only playing twice a year, there seemed to be a lot of bad blood between the two clubs.
There were a number of penalties for roughing after the whistle and a couple of misconducts within the first 40 minutes.
Robert Proner, who was acquired from Saginaw in early January after having not played for it for over a month, got a roughing penalty to send the Spirit to their first power play of the night.
It only took Saginaw 16 seconds to strike, as Brady Gilmour deflected Filip Hronek's point shot past Ovsjannikov to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Colts looked to be in even more trouble a few minutes later, as a pair of minors six seconds apart put Barrie down two men for 1:54.
But Ovsjannikov proved to be the key penalty killer, turning aside four of Hronek's blasts from the point – including a rebound save without a stick – to get through the minors scot-free.
“I think that's one of the best games I've seen (Ovsjannikov) play,” Douglas said. “On that 5-on-3, he must have, like, seven saves in a row and it was a great effort by him.”
Barrie held its ground and limited Saginaw's attempts throughout the rest of the second period, holding its one-goal advantage headed to the third.
The Colts would pull ahead 4-2 on a weird bounce.
Tom Hedberg chipped the puck towards the slot, where Magwood whacked a bouncer past Bonello, who didn't appear ready for the shot.
Saginaw wasn't done yet though, and it got one back thanks to a great give-and-go between Hodgson and Kris Bennett in the attacking zone.
It would be Bennett finishing things off with a high backhander, reducing the Colts lead to 4-3.
“We can't take that lead for granted,” Douglas said. “We need to tighten up defensively for sure.”
The Spirit would get the equalizer with 2:59 left in regulation, when former Colt Matthew Kreis slid a pass under a Barrie stick to Hodgson, who was charging in on the left side, and the overager beat Ovsjannikov to the corner.
“I think we got lazy a bit,” Hawerchuk said. “We were losing our guy in the d-zone, and we have to keep telling ourselves to bear down and really step on their throats.”
That sent the game to overtime, where, after Hronek blew a tire, the Colts had a 3-on-2 in the offensive zone.
With that opportunity, Hawerchuk had some free space to rifle a game winner over Bonello's glove.
The Colts are in Hamilton Friday to take on the Bulldogs. Barrie returns home Saturday when it faces the Owen Sound Attack.
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Ben Hawerchuk: 2G, 1A
Zach Magwood: 2G, 1A
Justin Murray: 2A
Curtis Douglas: 1G (first-career OHL goal)
Lucas Chiodo: 1A
Kyle Heitzner: 1A
Tom Hedberg: 1A
David Ovsjannikov: 28 saves