Tue Apr 03 02:06am EDT
The play might have started with a bad bounce, but for the Barrie Colts, it ended in the game-winning overtime goal that pushed them through to the second round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs.
"It was just a bad bounce on the boards at the blueline," said Colts forward Anthony Camara who scored the winner with 27.2 seconds left in the first overtime period. "(Steven) Beyers picked up the puck and I was thinking about going behind him, but then I just said, 'Go to the net hard.' I went (skating) head down with my stick on the ice and it hit my stick and went in."
The thrilling 3-2 victory gave the Colts a 4-2 series win in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
"It was exciting; it was great," said winning netminder Mathias Niederberger, who finished with 44 saves. "It turned out positive for us which makes it even better."
The final minutes of the third period and most of the overtime provided both teams with excellent scoring opportunities, though neither could capitalize before Camara's winner.
"I thought at the start of the overtime our guys played with a lot of determination and we just couldn't find a way to get the puck into the net," said Majors head coach and GM James Boyd. "We kept pressing and pressing — our determination was there — I liked our spirit and our camaraderie. It's an abrupt finish to something that was going so well."
Both Niederberger and Majors overage goaltender Brandon Maxwell (38 saves) put on a great display for the 3,516 fans at Mississauga's Hershey Centre.
"It you're a fan of goaltender this was the series to be watching," said Boyd. "Both guys were outstanding and spectacular in almost every game. (Maxwell) was great and he gave us a chance to win every game and I thought Niederberger did the same for them."
The Colts also got goals from captain Colin Behenna and defenceman Aaron Ekblad, while overager Jamie Wise and Finnish import Mika Partanen scored for the Majors. The Colts were playing without key players in their lineup including regular season leading scorer Tanner Pearson (broken foot), forwards Gregg Sutch (upper body) and Zach Hall (suspected concussion).
"For all the talk of their (Colts) offensive firepower it was Niederberger and their defence that was the strength of that team," said Boyd. "We knew that going into the series that we'd have to find a way to score some greasy goals. True to form, that was exactly who excelled there — they've got a very positionally sound team — they don't give up many second or third shots. It wasn't going to be an easy series no matter what."
Niederberger said he was nervous since this was the first time heading into an OHL overtime situation in the playoffs.
"I tried to calm myself," said the native of Duesseldorf, Germany. "I had the team playing unbelievable (in front of me) so it was easier for me.
"I'm happy that I could make that many saves to help the team."
The Colts will now face the Ottawa 67's in the semifinals which will open on Friday night in the nation's capital. The 67's also eliminated the Belleville Bulls on Monday night with a 2-1 victory to win their series in six games. Goaltender Petr Mrazek, who garnered attention at the world junior championships for his stellar play while representing the Czech Republic, made 31 saves in the win and finished the series with a 2.43 save percentage and a .934 save percentage.
"I've seen videos mostly," said Niederberger of his 67's counterpart. "He had a really good world juniors, but now we're going to make his life difficult."