Sports

Svechnikov's hat trick, Lazarev's 34 saves propel Barrie to 3-1 win over North Bay

By Stephen Sweet, Special to Postmedia Network

Barrie's Kade Landry takes out North Bay's Adam McMaster along the boards. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

Barrie's Kade Landry takes out North Bay's Adam McMaster along the boards. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

The Barrie Colts got their offence early on Thursday.

 

That meant they had to hold the fort the rest of the way.

 

Leo Lazarev made 34 saves and Andrei Svechnikov scored a hat trick as the Colts defeated the North Bay Battalion 3-1.

 

“I don't think it was our best effort, but we stuck with it and kept it simple,” said Colts centre Jason Willms. “We've got a lot of skill in the room, and in this league, you've got to find ways to win.

 

“I think these were two big points for us tonight, and we've got two big games coming up in Sarnia and Saginaw that we hope to carry the momentum into.”

 

The Colts got things rolling early on Thursday thanks to their top import pick.

 

Svechnikov took a pass up the wing and came down into the North Bay zone, cutting in towards the net.

 

Svechnikov attempted to stuff the puck through Battalion starter Julian Sime's five-hole, and succeeded when the netminder couldn't match the Russian's strength, giving Barrie a 1-0 lead.

 

The top NHL prospect would double the Colts advantage a few minutes later, when he timed a Ryan Suzuki feed off the boards to perfection and snapped a shot under the blocker arm of Sime.

 

“Everyone else gets to see the finished product, but it's pretty remarkable, in my one month of playing with him, and the stuff that he does with his stretching and fitness, it's all top notch,” said Willms of Svechnikov. “You can really see why he has that go-to release and killer speed that he uses.

 

“He's a special player.”

 

That would all but end the night for North Bay's starter, as he was replaced by Mat Woroniuk at the next whistle.

 

In Barrie's end, Lazarev was his energetic self, diving across the crease to help keep out a point shot he'd accidentally let loose before coming over to the short side to deny Justin Brazeau's one-timed attempt.

 

Despite four first-period power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 55 seconds, Barrie couldn't do anything with the man advantage.

 

“You've got to give credit to the (Battalion),” Willms said. “They were hard on us early and we've just got to keep our feet moving more.

 

“The power play has to outwork the penalty kill and luckily tonight, it wasn't that big of a factor.”

 

Even without any goals on special teams, the Colts led 2-0 after a period.

 

In the second, the Battalion began to use their size and strength to try and push around the Colts, and it worked to get them on the board.

 

A cross-crease pass to Adam McMaster was tipped up, and looked to be under the crossbar and in, but it was waved off and play continued.

 

With a mess of bodies in front, trying to keep the puck from going in, Luke Burghardt slid the puck back to Brady Lyle, who roofed it over the sprawled Lazarev and in.

 

Just as Barrie's man-advantage struggles kept it from adding anything else on the board, so too did North Bay's, as it had three straight power plays following five in a row for the Colts.

 

Lazarev thwarted their best chances, a pair of high shots from Adam Thilander, to keep Barrie ahead 2-1 after 40 minutes.

 

“He's been huge for us so far,” Willms said. “On a couple on 2-on-1's and 3-on-1's, he's bailed us out.

 

“He and Svechnikov were easily our best players tonight, and when your goalie is your best player, that's always huge.”

 

The Colts continued to rack up the power plays, but it was North Bay that was getting opportunities off of them.

 

Brazeau twice was in alone on shorthanded chances, but shot almost immediately both times and Lazarev came out aggressively to turn the big winger aside.

 

The Colts would need their netminder to come up big late, with Justin Murray getting a game ejection for a check to the head with just over two minutes remaining.

 

Lazarev would deny both Thilander and Cam Dineen on point shots, freezing the latter for a face-off.

 

Willms would get the puck off of it and out of the zone, sending a pass up to Svechnikov, who completed his hat trick into the empty net.

 

Barrie's next contest is in Sarnia Friday.

 

Twitter.com/stephen_sweet

 

COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:

Andrei Svechikov: 3G
Joey Keane: 1A
Chris Cameron: 1A

Alexey Lipanov: 1A
Jason Willms: 1A
Ryan Suzuki: 1A
Leo Lazarev: 34 saves