The youth movement continued on Monday for the Owen Sound Attack.
Sophomore Daylon Groux and rookie Griffin Wilson each scored a pair of goals as the Attack beat the Barrie Colts 6-4 at the Barrie Molson Centre.
Owen Sound has now scored five goals or more and peppered the net with over 30 shots in both of their opening exhibition games.
“That’s our identity. We want to be an offensive and fast team without sacrificing defence,” said assistant coach Jordan Hill after the game.
Both Owen Sound and Barrie made it known early the rust was caked-on thick as the two teams traded broken passes and turnovers in a pinball-like first period.
Ryan Suzuki broke the ice with a shot from a bad angle that slipped through rookie goaltender Andrew MacLean. The goal from the projected first-round National Hockey League pick came right after an Attack penalty had expired.
Owen Sound would get it back minutes later when Daylon Groulx stopped a Cole Cameron shot on the doorstep and tucked it behind Russian import goaltender Maksim Zhukov with the backhand.
The goal was Groulx’s second in as many days as the sophomore looks for a big second season in the OHL.
Chase Campbell’s goal with three seconds remaining in the first period capped off the disjointed frame in fitting fashion.
Cade Robinson’s hard cross-ice dump pass bouncing off the corner boards and right in front of the Barrie goal, over the stick of Zhukov, and right onto Campbell’s tape with the empty cage waiting.
“You want to put kids in a situation where they’re going to play a lot so you can see a lot of their game,” said Hill. “Obviously in preseason mistakes are going to be made.”
Jackson Doherty continued the sophomore show in the second period with his first goal of the preseason, a one-timer from the slot that clanged off the bar before entering the net. Credit Robinson with the set up.
Barrie scored next with Mack Guzda in the Owen Sound goal on a batted puck that floated over the six-foot-four tender, but Groulx’s second tally on the power-play, and a Griffin Wilson marker later in the second frame made the score 5-2 for Owen Sound with 20 minutes left to play in the game.
Groulx has benefitted from the vacated net-front position on the Attack power-play effectively filled by Jonah Gadjovich for the previous two campaigns. On both the Fort Erie native’s goals Monday it looked like he’d learned a thing or two from the Vancouver Canucks prospect.
“That’s the next-guy up mentality,” said Hill. “I worked with him a lot last year on his net presence, tipping pucks and taking the goalie’s eyes away.”
Robinson had another nice set-up in the third period to spark Wilson’s second straight goal. The lanky winger deked a defender in the neutral zone to create a two-on-one before sliding the puck over to Wilson for a tap into the wide-open goal.
Ryan Suzuki and Nathan Allensen would both score for the Colts to climb back into the game, but the clock beat the comeback and the Attack held on to win.
Hill said people shouldn’t necessarily read too much into the young Attack players getting a lot of ice time in the early exhibition season.
“It’s a measuring stick for a lot of guys . . . as a coach you’re always looking for things like chemistry,” he said. “It’s a big, big adjustment – especially from minor hockey – hockey sense is the big thing.”
Attack forward Zach Roberts left the game in the first period with an injury after a big collision in the neutral zone. Hill said the team is going to wait for an evaluation from the doctors before speculating on a timeline for return. Roberts missed much of last season with a shoulder injury.
Owen Sound will take an extended break from the exhibition schedule as their next contest isn’t scheduled until Sept. 15 in North Bay. The Attack return home to the Bayshore on Sept 16 for a game against the Battalion with puck drop scheduled for 2 p.m.