BRAMPTON, Ont. – Apparently meaningless games sometimes carry significant import.
The Brampton Battalion, already assured of its Ontario Hockey League playoff position, was reminded of that Friday night, when the Troops defeated the Barrie Colts 5-3 but saw Connor Jarvis and Brandon Robinson leave with injuries.
Jarvis suffered concussion-like symptoms and was transported to hospital in an ambulance, while Robinson awaited X-rays on a lower-body injury.
Matt MacLeod scored three goals and added an assist and Patrik Machac provided one goal and three assists to power the offence for the Battalion, which got its other goal from Barclay Goodrow. Goaltender Jake Smith made 21 saves as the Troops moved their won-lost-extended record to 33-25-9 for 75 points, second in the Central Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The Battalion will open a best-of-seven conference quarterfinal series at home Thursday night against the Sudbury Wolves, who secured third place in the division and fifth in the conference with a 5-1 home-ice victory over the Niagara IceDogs.
Aaron Ekblad, Steven Beyers and Ryan O’Connor scored for Barrie, 43-20-4 for 90 points atop the division. The Colts’ first loss in eight games, combined with the Belleville Bulls’ 3-0 win over the host Mississauga Steelheads, gave the Bulls, East Division champions, home ice through the conference playoffs.
Goaltender Mathias Niederberger faced 33 shots for the Colts, whose previous loss was a 5-3 setback Feb. 22 at Sudbury.
“I thought our guys played pretty well,” said coach Stan Butler, whose Troops went 5-0-1 against Barrie this season. “We have a good rivalry with Barrie, and the guys came out ready to play today. We haven’t had success against them over the years, so it was nice to get a win.”
Enjoyment of the victory was tempered by the condition of Jarvis, who was rocked by a centre-ice check by Jake Dotchin in the third period. Jarvis made his way to the bench but, cut under his nose, left for the dressing room. Robinson also was injured in the final period, and Nicholas Foglia took stitches after receiving a stick to the face.
The Battalion spotted Barrie a 1-0 lead at 1:27 of the first period on defenceman Ekblad’s goal, but MacLeod responded twice before the frame ended. MacLeod blasted home a shot from the left-wing circle at 5:25 just after Blake Clarke, who had three assists, hit the post and then ripped a 30-foot shot past Niederberger at 8:52.
Goodrow scored his team-leading 37th goal of the season on the power play at 9:23 of the second period, deflecting Brenden Miller’s shot and fooling Niederberger on the glove side.
Beyers struck 56 seconds into the third period to cut Barrie’s deficit to 3-2. The Troops failed on several attempts to clear their zone before Mitchell Theoret, at the left of the net, found Beyers alone in front.
Machac scored what proved to be the winner at 6:48 off a selfless feed from MacLeod on a virtual two-on-none break. Alex Lepkowski mildly harassed MacLeod, and another defender was in hot pursuit, but Machac put home his 12th goal from short range on the left side.
MacLeod collected his 18th goal on a power play at 8:45, redirecting Miller’s screened lob shot.
With the Colts, who had trouble crossing centre ice with puck possession for the final few minutes of the second period, in a fully frustrated condition, referees Mike Cairns and Joe Park then started handing them opportunities, starting with a ludicrous roughing call against Kyle Wood at 11:48.
Defenceman O’Connor benefited from a two-man advantage, scoring at 16:04 on a shot from the top of the left circle that squeaked between Smith’s legs.
Dylan Blujus and Marcus McIvor both were assessed crosschecking penalties at 19:04, giving Barrie another two-man advantage, but the Battalion staved off the siege, which featured six attackers after Niederberger went to the bench with 1:10 left to play.
The Battalion scratched Cameron Wind, Francis Menard and Calvin Gomes. Barrie scratches were Alex Yuill, C.J. Garcia, Cody Brown and Justin Scott.
The Battalion hosts the Peterborough Petes at 2 p.m. Sunday to complete the regular season.
BATTALION NOTEBOOK: Attendance was 2,448 … The Battalion went 2-for-5 on the power play. Barrie was 1-for-6 … The Battalion is 20-10-3 at home. Barrie, which wraps up its schedule Saturday night at home against Niagara, finished 17-15-2 on the road … The Battalion went 18-5-5 within the division … Smith saw his first action since backstopping a 5-3 home-ice victory over Barrie on Feb. 17, the teams’ previous meeting. Matej Machovsky had started 10 consecutive games and 23 of 24 since returning from the World Junior Championship, in which he played for the Czech Republic. Smith has an 8-6-2 record with a 2.61 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage … Defenceman Blujus, a third-round pick in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, played his 200th game. He has career totals of 13 goals and 74 assists for 87 points … Opening line combinations included Jamie Lewis centring left winger Goodrow and right winger Brendan Childerley, Machac centring left winger Clarke and right winger MacLeod and Nick Paul pivoting left winger Robinson and right winger Mathew Santos. Foglia centred left winger Jarvis and right winger Mike Amadio … Santos celebrates his 18th birthday Saturday … Two Colts marked birthdays Friday. Mark Scheifele turned 20, while Brendan Lemieux turned 17 … Onetime Battalion right winger Ryan Bowness, an executive with the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets, attended the game and said he planned to return Sunday. The Jets visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night … Head trainer Binne Brouwer was on bereavement leave after the death of his mother. Dave Gray, a Battalion scout and Oshawa fire captain, was on the bench … The Battalion has an all-time won-lost-tied record of 27-45-2 against Barrie.