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Saturday, September 15, 2018

2018-19 A Very Barrie Colts Season Preview. #OHL



2017-18 Season Notes:
  • Finished 1st in Central Division and 2nd in Eastern Conference. 
  • Ended season with a 42-21-4-1 record. 
  • Aaron Luchuk led team with 115 points. (64 with Barrie/51 with Windsor)
  • Lucas Chiodo got the most points with the Colts with 79. (30 goals/49 assists)
  • Andrei Svechnikov led rookies with 72 points. (40 goals/ 32 assists in 44 games played)
  • Barrie scored 297 goals. (3rd most in OHL)
  • Barrie allowed 229 goals against. (8th fewest in OHL)
  • 22.8% on Power Play. (6th in OHL)
  • 79.3% on Penalty Kill. (10th in OHL)
  • Aaron Luchuk 115 points was most in OHL.
  • Aaron Luchuk and Dmitry Sokolov led leag with 50 goals each.
  • Joey Keane was a +45. (3rd in OHL)
  • Leo Lazarev had 32 wins. (3rd in OHL)

Moving On:
Aaron Luchuk (OA), Leo Lazarev (OA), TJ Fergus (OA), Andrei Svechnikov (CAR) and Dmitry Sokolov (MIN).

Notable Additions:
Connor LePage, Tyson Foerster, Peter Fleming, Matej Pekar and Maksim Zhukov.

Forwards:
The Barrie Colts might be missing a few of their top scorers from last year in Andrei Svechnikov, Aaron Luchuk and Dmitry Sokolov but they still have a lot of scoring power up front. Most notable is Ryan Suzuki who is coming off a successful rookie season. Last year, Suzuki posted 14 goals and 30 assists through 64 games. Ryan displayed many skills you don't traditionally see in a rookie. His patience with the puck was truly special to watch. Never rushing plays, Suzuki was able to generate chances because he wouldn't force plays. His vision was also an ability that stood out and isn't something you can teach. This skill goes hand-in-hand with his incredible speed and with more ice time this year, I expect him to be one of the more dominant players in the league. He is also eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft and currently is considered the top OHL eligible player by many.

Suzuki was 1 of 4 OHL'ers to make Team Canada at the Hlinka- Gretzky Cup and put on an incredible performance with 1 goal and 7 assists. His 8 points were the 3rd most at the tournament. No doubt playing in this tournament will add to his confidence for the 2018-19 season. Check out this pots from Ryan McArthur who took an in-depth look at Suzuki headed into the NHL Draft which you can find here.

Lucas Chiodo comes into this season as one of the teams OA players. Last year was a career year for the Churchill native, posting 30 goals and 49 assists in 64 games. His 79 points was the most among players AS Barrie Colts (Luchuk and Sokolov had more points; combined with previous teams). Chiodo is a fan favourite, and with his success last season and an impressive showing at the Columbus Blue Jackets camp, Lucas will no doubt finish his OHL career off with his strongest season to date.

Jason Willms and Zachary Magwood had identical seasons. Both scored 27 goals and added 32 assists for 59 points. Magwood was picked up by the Nashville Predators as a free agent and while many in Barrie are unsure if the forward will return to compete in his OA season, some close to the team are optimistic he will return. Jason Willms got an invite to the Chicago Blackhawks camp and had a solid showing. Jason is not only an offensive threat, but his net front presence makes him a pain to play against for goaltenders. Another area he excels is his ability to play a 200 foot game. Very reliable player going both ways. Willms and Magwood will get more ice time this season and their numbers will no doubt reflect that. They will be huge parts of the Colts success this season.

We feel good about our position for over-agers. We have to wait to and see, it could take a month or two to see what happens with Zach Magwood. It's out of our control, we just have to go with what we have now and will go from there. - Jason Ford, Colts GM on Zach Magwood status from OHL 20 in 20. 

Aidan Brown had an incredible camp with Barrie. His speed has really improved and so has his shot. During camp, it seemed like he was constantly getting pucks on net and many went in. One area I would say has looked the best since last season is his confidence. Brown will surprise many this season and will rise well above what many expect from him. The same could be said for Jaden Peca. The winger scored 16 goals and 31 assists last year. With more ice time and stronger line-mates, Peca and Brown will add so much up front to the roster.

Other returning players to expect are Luke Bignell, Kyle Heitzner, Sam Rhodes and Ben Hawerchuk. Hawerchuk is 1 of 4 players trying to land an OA spot on the team. If Magwood doesn't come back, the decision is easier but there is still time for the team to make that decision. Look for Sam Rhodes to make a big stride from his rookie season where he scored just 3 goals. At camp, he was skating hard and playing a physical game. He could be one of the teams breakout players this season.

Though the anticipation was impossible to deal with, it was finally announced that Buffalo Sabres prospect, Matej Pekar will join the Colts this season. Pekar spent last season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL. Over 56 games he scored 14 goals and 40 assists. He went on that season to be named the USHL rookie of the year. At the Sabres camp, he was absolutely demolished by 1st overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, but also did his share of aggressive play. He got the ultimate revenge on Dahlin later at the 3 on 3 tournament with this beautiful, through the legs play which led to a goal.


Pekar is a highly skilled player who has yet to dress with the team, but will bring skill up front, as well as the ability to get in the head of opponents. He is known as an aggressive player, not affraid to throw his body around. What can we say, the kid likes to be an "annoying rat". Check out this interview with Pekar at Sabres camp.



Rookies to look at are Connor LePage, Tyson Foerster, Peter Fleming. All had great showings at camp and will make up a huge part of the teams bottom 6 up front.

Defence:
The Ponies have a strong defencive core for this season. Joey Keane no doubt will lead the way, coming off of being drafted 88th overall by the New York Rangers at the 2018 NHL Draft. Last year, Joey scored 12 goals and added 32 assists. His 44 points more than doubled his production from his rookie season, where he scored 1 goal and 18 assists. His +45 was the best on the team and 3rd league wide, making him the only non Soo Greyhounds player to crack the top 5 list. Keane is arguable one of the best skaters in the OHL. Offensively dominant, he still has the ability to get back to play defence when the play quickly turns the other way. Look for Keane to be one of the top blueliners in the OHL this season.

Tyler Tucker is also coming off being selected at the 2018 NHL Draft after being picked 200th overall by the St.Louis Blues. Tucker had a strong showing at Blues camp and made a bit of a name for himself after fighting 24 year old Derek Pratt (Rangers prospect) at camp on September,11th 2018.



Tucker is probably one of the hardest hitters in the OHL. If only the league tracked body checks. Tucker put up 3 goals and 20 assists this past season with the Barrie Colts. Though, known for being a physical player, Tucker is also excellent for getting pucks on goal from the point which helps generate scoring chances. An area of his game that looks to have improved at training camp is his skating. He looks to be moving better on the ice and his conditioning seems to have really improved. Look for Tyler to be a top 4 pairing, likely to play with Murray on the 2nd line.

Nathan Allensen returns to the Colts after a solid rookie season. Last year, the Colts 32nd overall pick in 2017 put up 2 goals and 13 assists. Allensen continued to get better as the season progressed and had a strong showing at camp. Draft eligible this season, and more minutes will be a great chance for him to up his production from his rookie campaign. Allensen will likely make a top 4 pairing and don't be surprised if he cracks the top line with Joey Keane. Our own Justin Stapleton did a great write-up on Allensen headed into the NHL Draft which you can read here.

Returning for his OA season is Colts captain, Justin Murray. The London, ON born Colt is coming off his best OHL season, posting 6 goals and 25 assists through 62 games, with a +/- of 25. Justin is such a reliable player defencively and will be a great influence on some of the returning sophomore players. He is well known in Barrie for being a great team leader and this season, he will undoubtedly lead the way and help mold some of the other players into better players moving forward.

Barrie also welcomes back Christopher Cameron, Mathew Hill and Victor Hadfield. All these players looked good at camp this year. Cameron stood out most of the three. His skating has come a long way and with his 6'4/220lb frame, he will be hard to play against for opposing teams. All three bring an aggressive style to the Ponies back end.

Goaltending:
Barrie has 3 strong goalies on the go for the year. Maksim Zhukov, who was picked by the Colts at the Import Draft was outstanding at camp. He has struggled a little in the pre-season, but it is often an adjustment coming to the OHL from other leagues like the USHL. Zhukov has great composure in goal. He manages to stay really calm and always looks confident. Rebound control is one of his many strengths and he moves so smoothly in the crease. 

Jet Greaves, also coming off a strong camp has been solid as well. Earning a shutout in his first pre-season game making 24 saves, Jet clearly knows he is in a battle to earn a spot. Like Zhukov, Greaves looks incredibly confident in goal and with some games under his belt could really develop into one of the leagues better goalies in the future. 

Kai Edmonds was a solid backup for Leo Lazarev last season, earning 9 wins. He posted a 3.48 GAA and a SAV% of .888. Many felt Kai would be a lock for the starting position, and having the most OHL experience of the 3 goalies, that isn't an unfair thought. With that being said, I would look for Zhukov to get the top spot as goalie, unless the team decides to rotate 3 goalies this season. Another option would be to try and move one of the goalies to a team in need of goaltending, knowing any one could bring back a solid return but time will tell if that is the teams plan. 

Normally we include a prediction for the season here, but now that we have a few more contributors, look for us to release our predictions for the team, and league wide predictions. It is not unrealistic to think that the team will win the Central Division for their 5th Division Title in 7 seasons, but time will tell. 

How do you think the team will do this season? let us know in the comments!

#BackInTheSaddle

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