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Colts take season opener over Battalion

Evenly played game goes Barrie’s way

NORTH BAY, Ont. – Jet Greaves made 29 saves for his second career OHL shutout to pilot the Barrie Colts to a 3-0 win over the North Bay Battalion in the first game of the new campaign for both clubs.

Matej Pekar scored two goals and captain Jason Willms added a pair of assists to lead the Colts attack. Joe Vrbetic, making his first career OHL start after playing last year with the Powassan Voodoos, was solid for the Troops in the Battalion goal, turning away 30 of 33 Barrie shots.

“I thought we started on time, but we unfortunately weren’t willing to go to the hard areas to get some of those second chances that were available for us,” said assistant coach Adam Dennis after the game. “Tip of the cap to their goalie, he played well, as did ours, but I think we have more."

North Bay, which played without last season’s second-leading scorer Matthew Struthers, generated a number of chances throughout the game but were denied second chances in close by the Colts defence. The Battalion also had a number of opportunities off the rush, notably Brad Chenier and top 2019 draft selection Liam Arnsby in the second period, though they were unable to capitalize. Icing one of the youngest lineups in the league, Dennis was complimentary of the performances of rookies Arnsby and brothers Paul and Alex Christopoulos, saying that he was pleased with their work ethic and expected that to be the norm going forward. Arnsby, in particular, played a strong game in his OHL debut, skating at centre between Chenier and Brandon Coe on the first line.

Neither team converted with the man advantage, with Barrie going 0/3 on the powerplay and the Battalion going 0/4. Greaves made his best save of the game on one of those North Bay powerplays in the second period, coming across to rob a one-timer from Paul Christopoulos who drifted down low from his left defence position.

Former Windsor Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel won his first game as the Colts interim head coach in the absence of Dale Hawerchuk, who will be away for the season on medical leave. Between Rychel and former Colts and Niagara IceDogs head coach Marty Williamson, who returned to Barrie this summer, the Colts have an impressive corps of executives with OHL experience in their hockey operations department.

The attendance at Memorial Gardens was 2,903, a number that included the St. Joseph-Scollard Hall marching band which provided entertainment during the game and intermissions. North Bay will play their first road game of the season Saturday night at Sault Ste. Marie, who opened their season with a 6-3 win over Flint on Friday night. Barrie plays their home opener Saturday night as the hosts to the London Knights.