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Monday, October 29, 2018

The 2018/2019 Barrie Colts after 15 games



This season certainly has been an interesting one for the Barrie Colts so far. There was, and still are many questions about this years Colts team. So far, they have a record of 8-6-1 which is good enough for 3rd in the central division and 6th in the eastern conference. Keep in mind with how tight its been thus far, the Colts are 2 points up on 9th, and 3 points back of 2nd in the conference. The Colts have the most goals for in the OHL so far at 66, and the 9th least goals against at 49. Of those 49 goals against, 12 of them have come while shorthanded.

Offence:
The big question for many coming into this season was how would the Colts replace Andrei Svechnikov, Aaron Luchuk, Dmitry Sokolov, and as a last-minute surprise, Zach Magwood who has begun his pro career in Milwaukee. Well, they have done quite well. As mentioned above the Colts have scored 66 goals in 15 games. That works out to 4.4 goals per game. Last season over 68 games the Colts averaged 4.36 goals per game. 

Great starts by the likes of Ryan Suzuki, Lucas Chiodo, Matej Pekar, and Ben Hawerchuk have been huge for the Colts offense. While they started slow, Jason Willms, Jaden Peca, and Luke Bignell have started to chip in regularly offensively in the last few weeks and Sam Rhodes continuing to build off a solid camp has been a big help. The offense from the blueline has been quite noticeable as well with Tyler Tucker leading the way already surpassing career highs in goals. Overall the team has been able to score goals, albeit somewhat inconsistently at times.

Defense:
Thought as the team’s strength going into the season, the blueline is definitely solid in Barrie. The 49 goals against puts them middle of the pack in goals against. Not really a problem at this point, but it is something to monitor if the team decides to make a run, or make some adjustments this season. As mentioned above 12 of those goals against have come while shorthanded. No doubt if the Colts limited their time in the box, this would help as the PK is quite strong overall. 

While the forward lines have stayed pretty much intact throughout the first 15 games, the blueline seems to be rotating on a regular bases, even seeing Nathan Allensen out of the lineup against Windsor this past game. Interesting decision by coach Hawerchuk. Overall the defense has been quite good, and are one of the best cores in the league lead by Rangers 3rd round pick Joey Keane, Tyler Tucker (Blues 7th rounder), and captain Justin Murray (Hello, NHL Scouts). They not only have the ability to shutdown teams, but activate themselves in the offensive zone and score some goals and create offense.

Goaltending:
A regularly discussed topic so far this season has been the Colts 3 goalies. All 3 have had some very solid games, and could say have even stolen a few so far. As expected Maksim Zhukov has seen the most game action thus far appearing in 9 games. He has a fairly solid 3.13 GAA and 0.909 save percentage while still adjusting to the OHL. His last start against Windsor being one of his best. Returning goalie Kai Edmonds has had his ups and downs so far with the no real consistency due to the 3 goalies. He has a 3.88 GAA and 0.882 save percentage thus far in 5 appearances. 

Lastly is highly touted former 3rd round pick Jet Greaves. Seeing the least action with just 3 games played, Jet has the best numbers and likely stole a game for the Colts in Sudbury in his second career start. Greaves has a solid 2.38 GAA and 0.920 save percentage. Only Greyhounds goalie Ethan Taylor has better among rookie goalies. Overall the Colts goaltending has been solid, but time to give one a good run of games. Having 3 goalies is far from ideal and really not fair to them either.

Special Teams:
Special teams have been a strength for the Colts this year, as both the powerplay and penalty kill are strong. The Colts powerplay ranks 6th best in the league, operating at 22.4%. The Colts are also one of only 3 teams who have not allowed a shorthanded goal against. Last season the Colts had a similarly ranked powerplay, but allowed the 4th most shorthanded goals. Pretty impressive considering the only remaining member of the top unit from last season is Lucas Chiodo.

The penalty kill has also been strong operating at an 84% efficiency, while leading the league in shorthanded goals for. Matej Pekar is a huge reason for this, as he is a fantastic penalty killer and has chipped in 4 shorthanded goals in the process. Good thing the PK is strong too, as once again the Colts lead the league in Penalty minutes with 228. The next highest team is Sudbury at 189.

Conclusion:
So far there has been some nice surprises this season. Not many even expected Matej Pekar and Maksim Zhukov to be in Barrie, but instead both are here and have made a significant impact. Ryan Suzuki broke out of the gate strong and continues to be top 10 in league points. Tyler Tucker has improved dramatically in every part of his game which has led to leading the league in points from the blueline. 

The decision to bring on and give a regular role to Tyson Foerster, Riley Piercey and Peter Fleming has paid off well so far. All 3 have contributed offensively and their play has grown and developed immensely since the beginning of the season. As is generally the case for the Colts, staying out of the box will be important moving forward, and continuing to play a full 60 minutes each night.

At the 15-game mark of the season things seem to be trending in the right direction. I think if the consistency comes along as it seems to be in recent weeks, we could be in to a very entertaining rest of the season.

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