Tonight the Barrie Colts welcome the North Bay Battalion to the Barrie Molson Centre for the final meeting of this regular season. In the previous 5 meetings this year the Colts have won 3 of the games. In those games, North Bay has out scored Barrie 15-14. In the last meeting the Colts walked away with a 2-1 win in North Bay.
This is a pretty important game for both teams in the standings being the last time the meet this regular season. The Colts have a 9 point lead over the Battalion but North Bay has 2 games in hand. A victory for the Colts would help their chances at finishing first in Central Division and earning that second spot in the East behind the Oshawa Generals. A win tonight is like getting 4 points. They have some pretty tough out of conference games in this final 10 games of the season so starting this final stretch with a win like this could do a lot in terms of momentum for the boys in blue.
North Bay is coming off of a 6-5 loss this past Sunday when they lost to the IceDogs on home ice. The loss was the 4th consecutive loss for North Bay. In those games the Battalion have been outscored 21-11. The team has had difficulties finding the back of the net and coming into Barrie to face a team with 23 goals in their last 5 games, they are really going to want to find a way to start scoring.
Barrie is coming off of a loss last night in Owen Sound where they were shut out 3-0. Barrie was heavily out shot 34 to 25 and again took some pretty unnecessary penalties (DON'T LOOK SURPRISED). They allowed 2 goals on 6 short handed chances and were unable to convert on all 5 power play opportunities. Special teams are really important, especially this time of year. If you are going to be taking more penalties than every other team on the OHL you need to make sure that you capitalize when you get a chance on the man advantage.
Keys to Success - I sound like a broken record here but the Colts need to stay out of the penalty box. All season this has been a struggle. They need to find a level of discipline without losing their aggressive style and that can be a tough line to find. Tonight they will also want to get a lot of shots on goal. Sounds silly, but this is an important game and you need to get pucks on the net, as I am sure you have heard in every OHL player interview ever done speak of it's importance..
Players to Watch - Mac Blackwood will likely have a busy night. He has been incredible all season for the Colts and will need to carry that into tonight's game. Also, following a game where the Colts were held off the score sheet I would look for Joseph Blandisi to be hungry for some points as he tries to claw his way to the top of the leading scorer race.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 tonight at BMC!