Tyler Tucker was determined to make up for a costly penalty that allowed the Mississauga Steelheads to tie up the game with just 56 seconds remaining. Boy, did he ever.
After getting a good dose of support from his teammates in the intermission, the defenceman went out and scored his second goal of the game just 16 seconds into overtime to give the Barrie Colts a 5-4 win, March 29, at the Hershey Centre. The win evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series at two games apiece with game five scheduled for March 31, back in Barrie.
With the Colts hanging on to a slim 4-3 lead and the Steelheads pressuring after having pulled goaltender Jacob Ingham for an extra attacker, Tucker drew a holding penalty when Mississauga’s Michael McLeod got a step on him. On the ensuing power play, Cole Carter beat Barrie goaltender Leo Lazarev to tie it up with just 56 seconds remaining in the game.
But Tucker couldn’t have picked a better way to make up for his miscue. Dmitry Sokolov stripped McLeod of the puck in the corner, skated around the net and fed Ben Hawerchuk in front. His shot was blocked by a diving McLeod, but the puck went right to a pinching Tucker who snapped it over the left glove of Ingham and the second-year Colt had his redemption.
“It feels good,” said a grinning Tucker, outside the Barrie dressing room after the win. “It was quite the downfall for me. The boys got me pumped back up and the puck squared out, so I was able to bury it.”
On a night when the Steelheads rallied three times to tie the game, the Colts found a way to push through the adversity and avoid returning home Saturday down 3-1 and facing elimination. Tucker, who scored just three goals all season, became the first Colt to score an overtime playoff winner since Michael Root, back on March 25, 2004. It was also the fastest overtime winner in Colts history and just three seconds off the quickest OHL mark of 13 seconds since 1998.
“Obviously me taking that penalty late in the third period was kind of a setback, but we stayed with it,” Tucker said. “We got a good speech from (Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk) during intermission, kept going and came out strong.”
The win helps the Colts take back home ice advantage and they’ll get a big boost when Andrei Svechnikov, the top NHL draft prospect among North American skaters, returns from his four-game suspension. The Steelheads will also get overage forward Mathieu Foget back from his four-game suspension.
“Svech is back, so that’s huge for us,” Tucker said.
Coming off a 2-1 loss in Mississauga where they created few chances and seldom had any pressure, the Colts had much more jump in this one. For the fourth time in the series, the Colts hit the scoreboard first with Zach Magwood scoring his first of two on the night late in the first.
After McLeod tied the contest on a shorthanded marker at 11:59 of the second period, Barrie came right back 36 seconds later on the power play when Magwood rifled a shot into the top left corner. A little more than four minutes later Tucker floated a point shot that seemed to hit something and find its way past Ingham. Carter, with his first of the night, cut the lead to one late in the second and McLeod, who also scored twice and finished the game with four points, tied it at 3-3 early in the third. Jaden Peca put Barrie back on top with just 4:43 remaining when he raced in to fire a rebound home off a Joey Keane shot.
“I thought we had good energy,” Hawerchuk said. “I thought we played well.”
Lazarev was outstanding in net once again for the Colts, kicking aside 45 shots on a night when Mississauga outshot Barrie, 49-29.
Game time Saturday is 7:30 p.m. Game 6 goes April 1 at 2 p.m. in Mississauga.
Photo: Tyler Tucker played the role of the hero, scoring just 16 seconds into overtime, his second goal of the game, to give the Barrie Colts a 5-4 win over the Mississauga Steelheads, March 29, at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. OHL Images photo.