Midgets reach Sweet 16
Team hasn’t been defeated since mid-November
By STEPHEN SWEET – Special to the Examiner
Posted 4 days ago
A lot has happened in the sporting world since Nov. 19.
Two Barrie Colts were selected to Canada’s national junior team.
The B.C. Lions won the Grey Cup on home turf.
And the NBA ended its lockout and began an abbreviated season.
One thing, though, still hasn’t occurred.
A regular-season defeat for the Barrie Colts minor midget ‘AAA’ squad.
“Our last loss was on our road trip out to Kingston, when we lost to (Quinte),” said Colts head coach Steven Farquharson. “Since then, we haven’t lost a regular-season game.”
In their past 16 contests, the Colts have drawn six and won 10, including a key 5-1 victory over Ajax/Pickering Raiders on Wednesday night.
“I think we played hard, got pucks deep and kept taking the man,” said Barrie defenceman Ryan Marks. “We went hard the whole game.”
He was the one who opened the scoring in the second period, on a shot that deflected off of a Raiders player and in.
“We were all over them at the start, and I think (the goal) really opened the floodgates for us,” Marks said.
When they pulled ahead, goaltender Ian Andriano came up with some big stops, including a post-to-post move to rob the Raiders on a two-man power play.
“Our goaltending’s been real solid for us,” said Farquharson of the combination of Andriano and T.J. Sherwood. “Games like this, big games where we need it, they come up big for us.”
Drake Board had a pair of goals for Barrie, while Ben Skuce and Max Healy had the other markers in a big win over a close divisional rival.
“We’re fighting with these guys and the (York-Simcoe Express) to hold on to the top spot (in the division), and our guys played hard until the end of the third period,” Farquharson said.
Their run over the past two-and-a-half months hasn’t gone unnoticed, either, as the Colts are currently ranked ninth on the OHL Cup’s province-wide top-10 list.
“That’s a great feeling and it’s great to be known,” Board said. “We were an honourable mention for a bit, and then we tied a few games.
“I thought we’d be off of it (after that), but actually, we moved up to ninth.”
They’ve held their ground on the rankings list for three weeks now.
“Every week, when we see we’re on there, we announce it in practice, and the kids all tap their sticks,” Farquharson said.
But then, the real work kicks in.
“They all know that the hardest part is to stay on there,” Farquharson said. “There are so many other teams, even in our league, where we’re the only ones on it, so the boys know they have to work hard to stay on there.”
That means keeping their focus.
“We just take the games one at a time,” Board said. “We look at each game like we have to win that one to stay in first.”
That hasn’t required too much imaginative work, given that the Colts currently sit tied for the top spot with York Central, albeit with a game in hand.
“With three games left in the season, we have to keep grinding hard through the games and just keep finding a way to pull out a win,” Marks said.
Keeping that must-win mentality has helped the Colts push forward. “That’s one thing about our team right now,” Farquharson said. “We’re playing desperate hockey, even though we’re in first place.”
And they’re willing to do whatever it takes to stay there.
“We’re working hard, and we’re definitely working hard in practice,” Board said. “One practice we just bag-skated, and I don’t know, but I think that helped us in the long run.”
And success in this year’s OMHA playoffs could mean an additional tournament at the end.
“If we make it to the OHL Showcase Cup in the spring, that’d be perfect,” Board said. “We can all be showcased there and hopefully get scouted.”