A year-and-a-half after the Owen Sound Attack and Barrie Colts played for the last time pre-pandemic, on March 11, 2020, the two teams were back on the ice Monday to kick off the preseason.
The Colts thrilled their 700-odd hometown fans inside Sadlon Arena with a 4-2 win in the Highway 26 reunion.
The old saying is not to read too much into the preseason, but on Labour Day Monday the thrills and chills that could be expected from an Attack team full of new-to-the-league rookies were evident.
The Attack kept their heads above water, but at the end of the night the team with Ethan Cardwell and Brandt Clarke, two bonified OHL stars, won the contest.
Cardwell’s skilled shorthanded tally sealed the game in the third period. The San Jose Sharks fourth-round pick darted down the middle of the ice out-skating the Attack back checkers and deftly lifting the puck over the shoulder of Mack Guzda.
Cardwell notched his third point of the game on the Colts fourth goal.
New Attack head coach Greg Walters wants his team to play skilled and work hard.
“We’re going to make plays and be very aggressive off the rush,” he said on the last day of training camp. “We have the skillset to make a lot of plays.”
The club plans to lean heavily on first-round picks Cédrick Guindon and Colby Barlow as well as rookie Thomas Chafe for the influx skill. All three players were slotted into the top-two Attack lines Friday and featured heavily on the power play as the Attack only dressed nine forwards.
The few men upfront also resulted in overage defender Andrew Perrott filling in at centre for a couple of shifts.
Barlow, from nearby Orillia, enjoyed a small cheering section in Barrie when he was announced as part of the starting lineup.
Owen Sound got off to a slow start. The team struggled to organize and connect in their own zone leading to a period of sustained pressure from the Colts.
Guzda needed to stand tall in the net as early chances from Cardwell, Ryan Del Monte and Clarke were turned away.
Barrie would breakthrough at the 5:34 mark when Courtice’s Cardwell beat Guzda to make it 1-0. There was a delayed penalty to Andrew Perrott on the play as the overage defender mixed it up with Barrie forward Anthony Tabak. The goal negated the penalty.
Owen Sound enjoyed two man-advantages of their own later in the first period, but couldn’t capitalize.
The third time was the charm. Barlow drew the penalty as he was hauled down late in the first period by Trey Zagrzebski. Sam Sedley’s point shot on the ensuing power play found its way through the bodies in front, including Colts goalie Tanner Wickware, to even the game with 38 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Julian Fantino and Gavin Bryant were credited with assists.
As the buzzer sounded to end the first period, rookies Bryant and Lorenzo Bonaiuto both dropped the gloves with Cardwell and Nathan Allensen respectively. Bryant and Allensen were tossed from the game while the others were handed roughing minors.
Deni Goure the Grande Pointe product gave the Attack their first lead of the game in the second period. Barlow found Goure alone in the slot who beat Matteo Lalama with a wrist shot.
Barlow’s Barrie bandwagoners gave him another smattering of cheers when his name was announced for the assist. Nolan Seed was credited with the second helper.
Oliver Smith tied the game just over 10 minutes later to send the teams tied 2-2 into the final 20 minutes. Frasca and Cardwell both picked up assists on the goal.
One of the pundits’ main off-season and training camp themes for the Owen Sound Attack has been “the team goes with Guzda”. It stands to reason the overage goalie will need to be the team’s best player on any given night to get results.
He stopped 46 of 50 shots Friday night, 10 of which had to come in the first five minutes of the third period as Barrie jumped on Owen Sound sniffing for the lead.
Tabak finally potted a go-ahead marker at the 6:03 mark, taking advantage of an Owen Sound turnover and beating Guzda high with a quick wrister.
Cardwell’s shorthanded tally ended things just over ten minutes later.
Wickware stopped 18 of 20 shots in goal for Barrie while Lalama got in front of all 10 chances he faced in the contest.
Owen Sound scored on one of five power-play opportunities while shutting out Barrie on their two chances with the man advantage.
The Owen Sound Attack now have an extended break from game action. The next time the team hits the ice is Sept. 18 in North Bay. Puck drop is scheduled for 2 p.m.