It's gone from Mark Scheifele scoring four goals in the third period to feeling like a foregone conclusion for the Barrie Colts.
On Saturday in Game 6 of the OHL final, the Colts' complementary scorers authored an all-the-stops rally to force overtime even though Mark Scheifele was ailing after taking a stiff bodycheck from the London Knights' Josh Anderson in the third period. His only shift afterward came in the final 90 seconds, when he was on the ice for Mitchell Theoret's tying goal that presaged Ryan Rupert's overtime winner. Now, in the hours ahead of the decider, Barrie's worst fears have come to pass. Scheifele, who has 14 points in the series, was not even able to make the trip to Budweiser Gardens to be with the team.
Anderson was not penalized on the play, nor was it reviewed by the OHL. Colts left wing Anthony Camara is also suspended for Game 7 after getting a charging major/game misconduct in Game 5 for a check on London's Seth Griffith; the play was over the line although Griffith played the following game.
Scheifele took a hard, awkward check from Josh Anderson in Game 6 and only played a shift or two more while in obvious discomfort.
— Stephen Sweet (@stephen_sweet) May 13, 2013
For those wondering about severity of Scheifele injury, he didn't make the trip to London. That says a lot. #Colts
— Craig Ripley (@Craig_Ripley) May 13, 2013
Anthony Camara AND Mark Scheifele out for the Barrie Colts' OHL Final Game 7? Ouch.
— Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming) May 13, 2013
— John Brassard (@CouncillorWard7) May 13, 2013
Expect Colts to play a much more defensive style tonight with Scheifele & Camara out of lineup.
— Gene Pereira (@GenePereira1) May 13, 2013
All hope is not lost for Barrie since, well, #JuniorHockey. The sport makes a mockery of prognostication.
There is only so much a team can overcome and still win. Since taking their 3-1 series lead, the Colts have (a) potentially lost their entire top line with Camara and Scheifele out and right wing Zach Hall hobbling; (b) lost defenceman Michael Webster to a broken collarbone and (c) had their linchpin goalie, Mathias Niederberger, regress in his play. Niederberger improved his post-season stats to a 2.07 average and .941 save percentage after he had a 42-save first-star performance in the open. He's now at a more human 2.59 and .927, in part since it's hard to maintain that standard and in part since the Colts' defence corps, counting on 17-year-old Aaron Ekblad as a main pillar, has allowed more chances.
It certainly takes some zazz out of Game 7, except London Knights fans. Scheifele should receive the Wayne Gretzky 99 Trophy as the most valuable player of the post-season regardless of the outcome, since his five-point nights in games 3 and 4 made the series. Only Marc Staal, with the 2007 Sudbury Wolves, has been honoured while playing for the runner-up.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.