The Barrie Colts scored the game-winning and series-winning goal with ten seconds left in the third period to capture their first-round playoff series against the Hamilton Bulldogs in Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoff action on Monday, April 10, 2023.
The Bulldogs came out quickly, playing desperate hockey in the must-win game six on home ice. Hamilton spent the most of the opening minute on the attack in the offensive zone, which led to their first goal less than two minutes later. Bulldogs centre Sahil Panwar tipped a shot from the circle, giving his team the early 1-0 lead. Hamilton continued to pressure the Colts, leading to their first man advantage of the game after Colts RW Roenick Jodoin was sent off for tripping. Hamilton capitalized 35 seconds into the powerplay when defenseman Lucas Moore buried a shot past Colts goalie Anson Thornton to open up a 2-0 lead just seven minutes into the opening period.
The Colts overcame their slow start in the back half of the first period, pressuring the Bulldogs in their own zone, creating offensive zone turnovers and getting several quality scoring chances. Bulldogs goalie Matteo Drobac made several big saves to maintain the two-goal advantage. Hamilton thought they had increased their lead to 3-0 with two minutes left but, after video review, the puck did not cross the goal line. After 20 minutes, the Bulldogs led 2-0 but were outshot 10-6 in the opening frame.
Barrie came out strong to start the second stanza, spending most of the opening five minutes on the attack but it would be the Bulldogs that would increase their lead when centre Florian Xhekaj capitalized on a neutral zone turnover and broke in for a partial breakaway and put the puck past Thornton to open up a 3-0 lead.
After falling behind by three, the Colts stepped up to take it to the Bulldogs, including a successful penalty kill before going on the attack. With less than seven minutes to go in the second, the Colts got on the board while on the powerplay when defenceman Brandt Clarke fired a shot from the point that beat Drobac to cut the Dogs’ lead to 3-1. Barrie continued to take it the Bulldogs through the late stages of the period, scoring two unanswered goals to tie things at three after 40 minutes.
Hamilton started the third period on a shortened penalty kill but managed to kill it off and keep the game tied at three. Both teams settled down through the early stages of the third period before the Colts were awarded their third powerplay when defenceman Jorian Donovan was sent off for holding. Hamilton played well and killed off the penalty but Barrie continued to stay on the attack. With just over six minutes remaining, the Colts took their first lead of the game when RW Ethan Cardwell scored his second goal of the game.
After falling behind for the first time in the game, the Bulldogs stepped up their attack and tied things at four when RW Nick Lardis took a nice feed from teammate Artem Grushnikov and buried it into a wide open net. Both teams played desperate hockey over the final three minutes, trying to end the game before overtime. As the teams played furious hockey and traded chances down the stretch, it was the Colts that would end the game, and the Bulldogs season. Colts forward Ethan Cardwell completed the natural hat trick when he ripped a shot over the shoulder of Drobac with ten seconds left giving Barrie the 5-4 victory and the 4-2 series victory.
After the final horn sounded, the teams shook hands then the Bulldogs saluted the hometown crowd for the last time as they will now spend the offseason preparing to relocate to Brantford for the 2023-24 season.