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Barrie Colts win big, wrest home-ice advantage from Bulls: OHL post-game questions

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Scheifele has 5 points in the series' first 2 games (OHL Images)

Mark Scheifele scored the first two goals while Aaron Ekblad helped the Barrie Colts pitch their second shutout since losing their captain to a suspension during a series-tying romp over the Belleville Bulls. On with the post-game questions.

Barrie 5 Belleville 0 (Eastern final tied 1-1, Game 3 Monday at Barrie) — How did the back-to-back games play into the Colts' favour? Instead of stewing for two days about a late penalty to defenceman Jake Dotchin that led to the Bulls' 59th-minute winner in Friday's Game 1, Barrie had to saddle up again immediately. (Thanks, try the bison burger.) The quick turnaround apparently made it easier to turn the page.

Scheifele (2G-1A, +2) scored from the high slot 6:01 to mute the Belleville crowd of 3,447. Three minutes later, after the Bulls' defence tossed a pizza up the middle of their own zone, Scheifele and Boston Bruins prospect Anthony Camara worked a quick give-and-go for a tap-in into a wide-open goal, making it 2-0.

"We were a little upset with the way things unfolded at the end of last night," Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk said. "The guys really wanted to get back When you have a game like that, it's good to get back to play within 24 hours. Our guys did a good job of getting ready, all day long.

"All the leaders kind of stepped up and got the mood back up," added Scheifele, who moved into a share of the OHL playoff scoring lead with 21 points. "We've lost one game in the playoffs, you can't dwell on that. We kept the same rhythm that we had in the first two series [4-0 sweeps vs. Kingston and Oshawa]."

"Getting a goal quick on Subban is a key for us," Scheifele added. "It kind of carried from there, everyone built off that.

What positives can Belleville find in being blanked on home ice? Scoring chances were relatively square through the first 30-40 minutes, but the Colts were more efficient, opening a three-goal cushion after Mitchell Theoret walked into the slot to put a shot under the crossbar over a screened Malcolm Subban.

From that point on, the Colts owned all four corners and the boards at the Yardmen Arena. They also seemed to be slowing down the Bulls' breakouts.

"With the energy that was in the building tonight, it was disappointing to go through a night like we did," Bulls coach-GM George Burnett said. "They were very opportunistic. Through the first 40 minutes, we had an equal amount of chances, by our count.

"Through two games, the concern I would have is our lack of pace through the neutral zone and our lack of ability to sustain a forecheck, to generate some decent chances off the rush and on the power play. Ultimately, we have to make some adjustments to spend some more time in their end of the rink."

The Bulls will have rugged 205-pound wing Carter Sandlak, who can be very effective in helping set a tone in road games, back for Monday's Game 3 at Barrie. Burnett added the status of centre Tyler Graovac, who's been dearly missed, is "still day-to-day ... it will be a huge push for our lineup to get Tyler back."

How efficient has the Colts' defence been since captain Ryan O'Connor was suspended in the first round? Try 13 goals allowed over the last eight games against Kingston, Oshawa and Belleville. The Bulls, who averaged close to four goals a night in the second half, didn't have much sustained pressure around Barrie's Mathias Niederberger.

"They were collapsing very well in their zone and if you can't get shots through from the point, it's not going to work in front of the net," Bulls captain Brendan Gaunce said.

Did Subban getting hooked after five goals on 23 shots reflect more on the situation or his play? It was probably 80-20 or 90-10 the former. The Colts had screens on two of their goals and another was off a turnover. Their final two by Josh MacDonald (off a great feed from worker bee Cody Brown) and Steven Beyers were on clear breakaways. It might have been 6-0 if Belleville mop-up man Charlie Graham had not turned aside Andreas Athanasiou on another breakaway in the third period.

"He would probably agree that he wasn't his best tonight, but we weren't very good in front of him," Burnett said of Subban. "To get Charlie some quality experience will certainly help him."

That being said, it wasn't all a letdown by Belleville. The Colts seemed more acclimatized to making decisions on the Olympic-sized ice surface.

"In Game 1, on the big ice, we felt we had time and space and we had a lot of pucks deflected or blocked," Hawerchuk said. "Tonight we identified getting pucks to the net and trying to get rebounds."

What accounted for the chippiness during the late stages? Belleville's depth players showed some fighting spirit in the final two minutes, with Chad Heffernan fighting Colts defenceman Alex Yuill. There were no instigator penalty given out in the fight. Rookies Brendan Lemieux and Niki Petti were only given misconducts for their skirmish, avoiding a suspension for engaging in a second fight during the same stoppage of play.

It was a message for Game 3, nothing more.

"It's a seven-game series, you have to play all 60 minutes," Gaunce said. "If you're going to be down 5-0, you have to make it up some way."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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