LONDON, ONTARIO -- Mathias Niederberger made 42 saves as the Barrie Colts defeated the London Knights 4-2 on Friday in the opening game of the Ontario Hockey League final.
The Knights opened the scoring at 5:24 of the second period when Ryan Rupert received a terrific outlet pass from Scott Harrington and scored on a breakaway by sliding the puck on a backhand through the pads of Niederberger.
The Colts took the lead before the period was over with goals from winger Andreas Athanasiou at 7:37, and another from Anthony Camara at 15:21.
Brendan Lemieux made it 3-1 Barrie with a power play goal at 1:24 into the third period. Alex Broadhurst trimmed the margin to 3-2 with a power play goal at 8:56, before Mark Scheifele's empty-netter at 19:17 put the game out of reach.
London goalie Anthony Stolarz stopped 24 shots.
The Knights were 1 for 4 on the power play, while Barrie went 1 for 3.
"That was our plan, to come in here and win this hockey game -- win Game 1," said Barrie coach Dale Hawerchuk. "We have the 20 guys dressed that all stay on the same page, to stay on a game plan that becomes second nature -- engraved."
The performance of Niederberger, who has played every minute in the playoffs for Barrie, was key to the win, according to Hawerchuk.
"Our guys play very confident in front of him. Mathias's performance was the backbone for us for sure," added Hawerchuk as his club was outshot early, 15-7 in the first, but also 20-9 in the third period.
With Game 2 also in London, Knights coach Dale Hunter expects a rebound result.
"It sure will be a big game for us, but if all the kids give their best effort, that's all I can ask," said Hunter, who had his club with a 12-2 mark through the Western Conference's three rounds.
"We had our chances, but we didn't bury enough," added Hunter. "If you judge a game on scoring chances, we certainly had our share."
With both coaches owning more than 1,100 games in NHL playing experience, Hawerchuk realizes the series has a long way to go.
"We can enjoy this moment, but then we have to keep our composure and focus and get ready for Game 2," said Hawerchuk. "We have to stay the course."