NORTH BAY, Ont. — Matej Pekar scored two goals to lead the Barrie Colts to a 3-0 victory Friday night over the North Bay Battalion in the Ontario Hockey League season opener for both clubs.
Goaltender Jet Greaves made 29 saves for his second career shutout, and Aidan Brown provided the other goal in the battle of Central Division rivals.
Battalion goaltender Joe Vrbetic stopped 30 shots in his first OHL start before a Memorial Gardens crowd of 2,903.
The Battalion, the youngest team in the league, came out strong in the first period, playing at a quick pace and forging a 14-9 edge in shots.
But the Troops early proved an inability to beat Greaves, with Brandon Coe enjoying perhaps the best chance when he found himself alone in the goalmouth and failed to connect on a backhander.
Pekar struck for the only goal Barrie would need 58 seconds into the middle period, seizing his own rebound at close range on the left side, circling the net and emerging at the right edge to knock the puck home. Nathan Allensen and Jason Willms, with his first of two, contributed assists.
Greaves denied Brad Chenier with a good blocker save in the fourth minute, and the Battalion went to the power play after Tyler Tucker was assessed a tripping penalty at 3:24. But Brown broke up a Braden Henderson play inside the Barrie blue line and raced off on a shorthanded breakaway to beat Vrbetic between the legs at 4:56 for a 2-0 lead.
Chenier, in his first game as Battalion captain, threatened again in the sixth minute, proving one of several Troops who couldn’t capitalize with Greaves sprawling.
Coe slipped to the goalmouth alone in the 10th minute and fired high. Kyle Jackson then failed to cash a rebound at 10:08 as Greaves went down. Chenier had a chance to tuck the puck home off a drive off the left wing in the final few seconds.
Barrie connected quickly after the next intermission as well, with Pekar ripping the rebound of a right-point shot past Vrbetic from the mid slot 37 seconds into the third period. Tucker and Willms were credited with the assists.
North Bay managed only six shots in the final frame and served the only penalty, after Cameron Peters drew a checking-from-behind call at 7:05.
The Battalion was shut out for the second time in 22 home or season openers. Barrie posted a 3-0 victory at Brampton on Sept. 19, 2003, in the first game of the 2003-04 campaign.
The Battalion has a won-lost-tied record of 6-15-1 in season openers dating to 1998-99 in Brampton. The Troops have a won-lost-extended record of 7-13-2 in home openers, including 2-4-1 at North Bay.
The Battalion visits the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 7:07 p.m. Saturday to complete weekend play. The game can be heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: Royal LePage broker Sue Symons conducted the ceremonial faceoff, presenting Janine Lafreniere, executive director of Nipissing Transition House, with a cheque for $11,360.30 raised from Royal LePage’s summer garage sale … The Battalion went 5-1-0 against Barrie last season … Opening lines featured Liam Arnsby centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe, Mason Primeau pivoting Peters on left wing and right winger Mitchell Russell and Luke Moncada centring left winger Jackson and Harrison Caines on right wing. Patrick Brown centred left winger Josh Currie and right winger Alex Christopoulos … Defence pairings saw Nick King with Simon Rose, Pacey Schlueting alongside Henderson and James Mayotte with Paul Christopoulos … Christian Cicigoi backed up Vrbetic … The Battalion scratched Ryan Thompson, Niki Korpialho, David Campbell and Matthew Struthers … Arnsby, Mayotte, Currie and both Christopoulos twins made their OHL debuts … Captain Chenier’s alternates were Primeau and Moncada, as Struthers sat out with an upper-body injury … Warren Rychel, a former part owner of the Windsor Spitfires, debuted as Barrie’s interim head coach as Dale Hawerchuk battles an illness … North Bay went 0-for-4 on the power play. Barrie was 0-for-3 … Sean Reid and Tyson Stewart were the referees.