Barrie starts season in style, hammers Ottawa 11-2 in home opener
Jaden Peca pokes the puck past Ottawa's Mathieu Foget. Peca had three assists as the Colts scored their biggest win in almost two years. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO
Okay, so this isn't going to happen every single night.
But opening up the season this way will allow fans plenty of license to dream.
The offence flowed through the Barrie Colts, top to bottom, as they handily defeated the Ottawa 67's 11-2 in their home opener Thursday.
“It was definitely fun,” said Colts forward Ryan Suzuki. “It's always fun to score goals, but at the same time, you just have to dial into your game.
“It was definitely a fun experience.”
With all of the new faces suiting up for Barrie this year, it didn't take them long to get acquainted.
Nate Allensen, Barrie's second round draft pick this year, took a high shot through a maze of bodies and it beat Ottawa starter Olivier Tremblay to give the rookie his first-ever Ontario Hockey League goal on the opening shift of his junior hockey career.
“I haven't even processed it yet,” Allensen said. “It's just a surreal moment.
“(Jaden) Peca fed me from down low, I shot it, and it happened to go in.”
The Colts would double their lead shortly after, when Peca, who had already assisted the first goal, spotted Justin Murray breaking into the slot.
Murray's first attempt was stopped, but the veteran defenceman picked up his own rebound and went around Tremblay to make it 2-0 Barrie.
The highly-touted import picks, Andrei Svechnikov and Alexey Lipanov, played on the top unit alongside fellow Russian Kirill Nizhnikov on Thursday.
They provided plenty of fireworks, and the trio worked together to create the third Barrie goal.
Lipanov sent a pass across the width of the ice to Nizhnikov, and Svechnikov, skating through the middle, slowed the pass down to land perfectly on his linemate's stick.
That allowed Nizhnikov to find Svechnikov, who now had a step on the confused defender, in the slot, and he would bury his first goal as a Colt to give Barrie a 3-0 advantage.
“It was pretty sweet,” Suzuki said. “I saw Lipanov go over the blue line and make a pass to Svechnikov, and apparently, Svechnikov has eyes in the back of his head.
“He saw Kirill behind him, and then it was a nice pass from Kirill to Svech to tap it in.”
The fans applauded the Colts as they left the ice following the first period – one that provided more high-skill offensive drama than the Barrie faithful had seen for much of last season.
When the Colts returned for the second, they had plenty more in store.
This time, it was Luke Bignell's turn to get his first goal in the OHL, as he jumped on Allensen's rebound and shot it past Tremblay to give the Colts a 4-0 advantage.
“Allensen put it on net and I just went for the rebound,” Bignell said. “It was just a lucky bounce onto my stick and I put it in.
“Just to see that go past the line was a really good feeling.”
After Mathieu Foget scored on a power play to get Ottawa on the board, he stumbled as he went up the ice on a subsequent break, allowing the Colts a chance the other way.
Peca looked up and spotted Curtis Douglas, who broke around the defenceman and waited out Tremblay before slipping the puck beyond him to make it 5-1 Colts.
Just 22 seconds later, Suzuki became the fourth Colt on the night to get his first-career OHL goal after taking a feed from Lucas Chiodo and going bar down.
“We were buzzing all night, so I knew it was going to come,” said Suzuki, who enjoyed getting a chance to be on a unit with veterans like Chiodo and Ben Hawerchuk. “It was good to get it in the first game.
“I didn't know it went in at first, but then I saw it coming around the net and I was pretty excited,” Suzuki added. “I saw Chiodo, and he was smiling and he was pretty happy for me.”
The duo would strike again, when a 67's play went awry, affording Chiodo and Suzuki a 2-on-0 from centre ice on in.
After three passes back and forth, Chiodo finished things off in a wide-open net, with former York-Simcoe Express goalie Olivier Lafreniere, who replaced Tremblay after the sixth goal, having no chance to make a save.
Barrie would extend its lead to 8-1 before the second was out, as Nizhnikov sent a pass from the slot to Svechnikov, whose off-wing blast gave him his second marker of the night.
“Once you get the first couple, everyone's in a good mood, and they keep the energy up and just want to keep going,” Bignell said. “Once we had the lead, we wanted to keep our foot on the gas.”
The third line, which was the only one not to register a point in the first 40 minutes, got a couple of goals early in the third, as Zach Magwood and Jason Willms each found the back of the net.
Barrie had now hit double digits in goals for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
It wasn't done yet, as after Ottawa got one back, Douglas was led on a breakaway and snapped a shot past Lafreniere to give the Colts an 11-2 cushion.
While Leo Lazarev, making his Barrie debut between the pipes against his former team, wasn't overly busy, he was solid in his limited work.
“Everyone's playing good and everyone's rolling, so it's fun,” Allensen said. “Leo had a great game in net for us, and it's fun playing in those high-scoring games.”
Although Barrie may need to rely on him a little more on most nights, that wasn't the case on Thursday as the Colts finished things off in style.
Barrie's next game is Friday night in North Bay.
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Kirill Nizhnikov: 4A
Curtis Douglas: 2G, 1A
Nathan Allensen: 1G, 2A (first-career OHL goal)
Jaden Peca: 3A
Andrei Svechnikov: 2G (first-career OHL goal)
Lucas Chiodo: 1G, 1A
Jason Willms: 1G, 1A
Ryan Suzuki: 1G, 1A (first-career OHL goal)
Justin Murray: 1G, 1A
Zach Magwood: 1G
Luke Bignell: 1G (first-career OHL goal)
Alexey Lipanov: 1A
Ben Hawerchuk: 1A
Joey Keane: 1A
Mathew Hill: 1A
Leo Lazarev: 20 saves