When Aaron Ekblad was taken first overall at the NHL Entry Draft this past June, the Barrie Colts lost their captain and their best defenseman. Of course Ekblad could be sent down at anytime, but it had become a unanimous decision that he was the most NHL ready prospect going into the draft.
It seemed as thought the Colts would regress a bit the following season, but they are doing quite well to start off. Although they are still without a captain, Barrie’s relying on their 3 alternates to lead the way during what might be an Ekblad-less season.
Jonathan Laser, Garret Hooey, and Joesph Blandisi are the three alternates mentioned above, and they are doing nothing but great things so far. All three complement each other very well. Where Blandisi lacks in leadership through voice, Laser and Hooey make up for it, and where Hooey and Laser lack in scoring ability and leadership by action, Blandisi makes up for them.
The Colts are currently tied for the lead in the Central Division with the North Bay Battalion. They are fantastic in most categories, but aren’t very disciplined. They take the most penalties in the league and that certainly doesn’t help their middle of the pack penalty kill. On the bright side they are tied for the league in short handed goals.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, their powerplay has been superb. One of the best in the league, the Colts have converted on 15 of 59 chances. That’s pretty good considering that the teams above them have either had only a few more goals than them, or significantly lower chances.
Brendan Lemieux is a player that has been particularly good on the powerplay. He has 4 PPG, which is good for 4th best in the OHL. Lemieux hasn’t been just good on the powerplay though, he has been great on the forecheck and has also brought a veteran vibe despite not having an “A”. Lemieux has 12 points in 11 games, 4th on the team, and is showing everyone what he does best, which is being a gritty goal-scorer.
The player leading in points on the Colts is Joesph Blandisi, a player who has come out of his shell this year. Blandisi was drafted by the Avalanche in the 6th round of the 2012 Draft, but Colorado did not keep him in the system. From there he went on a pro tryout with the Buffalo Sabres, and did quite well in training camp and in the Traverse City tournament. Now he is third in OHL scoring and is looking for a job opportunity in the NHL, and he should get one.
It is quite possible that the Barrie Colts will beat out the Battalion for the top spot in the Central division, something they failed to do with Ekblad last year. That would be incredible to do better than they did last year, without the best defenseman in the OHL last year. It just the start of the season, but it is a very good possibility.