Horse power is poised to make some noise in and around Barrie.
And a couple of northern Ontario boys represent a faction of high end skaters who figure to make the Barrie Colts an Eastern Conference contender come the 2020-2021 Ontario Hockey League season.
Left winger Nick Porco, a Sault Ste. Marie product, and pride of Powassan defenseman Connor Punnett are two players who went to Barrie in separate exchanges with the Saginaw Spirit during the 2019-2020 season.
Porco (2017) and Punnett (2019) are both former first round, OHL priority selection draft picks of Saginaw who joined Barrie in big trades triggered by Colts general manager Jason Ford.
Fresh from a fifth place finish in the Eastern Conference with a 29-28-6 record in the COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season, Barrie improved under coach Todd Miller after Warren Rychel was dismissed in January.
With Miller at the helm, Barrie posted a 13-7-2 record.
Meanwhile, Porco — who has a 2001 birth date — is now preparing for his first full season in Barrie after having requested a trade from Saginaw early during the 2019-2020 campaign.
A character individual with world class, separation speed and a 2019 National Hockey League draft pick of the Dallas Stars, Porco never really got into a groove after joining Barrie last season.
A case of mononucleosis severely hampered his playing ability as did a concussion following a nasty on-ice hit from an opponent. And Porco also had to deal with the death of his maternal grandfather, to whom he was very close.
In all, Porco netted nine goals, 11 assists, 20 points in 50 games between Saginaw and Barrie in 2019-2020. He managed five goals, eight assists, 13 points in 36 games with Barrie after going 4-3-7 in 14 outings with Saginaw.
At any rate, Porco is now in tip top physical condition and looking forward to the upcoming season.
“I feel great,” Porco told Hockey News North. “I am looking forward to having a much better season and helping Barrie become a contender. I really like it in Barrie.
“I know what I am capable of and I am looking forward to being healthy and improving my overall game,” added Porco, who had scored 20 goals for Saginaw during the 2018-2019 season, which was his second in the OHL.
As for fellow northerner, the aforementioned Connor Punnett, the big defender greatly improved his game in Barrie last season after given little opportunity to develop in Saginaw on what was a powerhouse Spirit squad.
As an OHL rookie in 2019-2020, Punnett, who has a 2003 birth date, totaled two goals, four assists, six points in 51 games divided between Saginaw and Barrie. Two of the goals and two of the assists were in 26 games with the Colts.
Porco and Punnett are just two Barrie plums who represent a good harvest ahead for the Colts.
Two others, forwards Ethan Cardwell and Evan Vierling, also joined the Colts in trades during the 2019-2020 season.
Cardwell, a former second round pick by Saginaw, finished second on the Barrie scoring chart last season with 23 goals, 24 assists, 47 points in 63 games. He had 26 points in 26 games for Barrie.
And Vierling, a former first round pick of the Flint Firebirds, came through with 14 goals, 30 assists, 44 points in just 43 games last season. He netted 12 goals, 22 assists, 34 points in 28 games after the trade from Flint to Barrie.
Both Cardwell and Vierling have 2002 birth dates.
There are others who Barrie can build around, including 2002 birth year forward Tyson Foerster and 2003 birth year defenseman Brandt Clark.
Foerster led the Colts in scoring last season with impressive totals of 36 goals, 44 assists, 80 points as a former third round pick by Barrie.
And the rookie Clarke produced six goals, 32 assists, 38 points in impressive fashion from his blue line position after being Barrie’s first round pick at the 2019 OHL priority selections draft.
Between the pipes, Barrie has a pair of decent 2001 birth year goalies on its roster — Arturs Silovs and Jet Greaves.
Silovs, a National Hockey League draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, came through with 16 victories for Barrie last season while Greaves was in net for the other 13 wins.