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'A jump:' Local hockey player set to make pro debut in Manitoba

'It's a great opportunity for me to see the pro level at the end of this year,' says Winnipeg Jets prospect, who will play first AHL game this weekend
Owen Sound Attack captain Colby Barlow has been reassigned to the AHL's Manitoba Moose, where he will make his pro debut Saturday.

Orillia's Colby Barlow is preparing for his first professional hockey game on Saturday.

Following the end of his season with the OHL's Owen Sound Attack, Barlow was recently called up to the AHL's Manitoba Moose, the farm team of the Winnipeg Jets, which drafted Barlow in the first round last summer.

In his third season in the OHL, the Attack captain battled through a mid-season back injury.

"Dealing with an injury was a learning curve for me," Barlow said. "I learned how to stay positive and how to come back stronger."

Barlow, 19, says he learned much about his body this season and how to prepare himself so that injuries don't linger.

"I learned a lot about how to activate certain things, so this injury doesn't continue to bother me," he said. "It's important to learn those things."

Orillia's Colby Barlow was selected 18th overall by the Winnipeg Jets at the 2023 NHL Draft. | Tyler Evans/OrilliaMatters file photo

Despite missing 18 games, Barlow posted 40 goals and 18 assists this season for the Attack.

"If you are doing all the right things and growing as a player and a person and learning every single day, you hope the numbers will follow that."

Barlow is proud of his efforts this year, notching his third straight season with at least 30 goals, but he doesn't believe he has reached his full potential. 

"There is still lots to my game that needs to continue to develop to become a full, well-rounded player," he said.

Despite being disappointed with Owen Sound's first-round playoff series, where they were swept in four games by the Saginaw Spirit, Barlow says he is grateful for the opportunity to play with the Moose for the team’s final five games of the regular season.

"I'm excited to learn the pro game and adapting to it," he said. "I'm going to play the game I know and the game that got me here in the first place. Working hard, being really good defensively, and earning the coach's trust when put on the ice is a big thing for me."

The former Monsignor Lee Catholic School student expects a faster-paced game in the AHL.

"It's going to be a jump," he said. "The maturity level of the players is different. There are older guys out there who are bigger, faster, and stronger."

With the Moose still playing to clinch a playoff spot, Barlow says his goal is to contribute to his new team in any way that he can.

"It's a great opportunity for me to see the pro level," he said. "I'll get some things to work on over the summer and really work toward my future next year wherever that may be."

As he did last year, Barlow plans to train during the off-season this summer with Stanley Cup champion and former NHL all-star Gary Roberts.

"Gary has been absolutely unbelievable to me," Barlow said. "He has a great group of people and support staff, and all the trainers are amazing and treat us like pros."

Roberts has helped Barlow improve his game on and off the ice.

"He's taught me more about nutrition," Barlow said. "You can train as hard as you want, but if you eat kind of unhealthy it doesn't work to its full potential."  

Barlow says he’s on "the road of development" as he continues to work his way to someday cracking the Winnipeg Jets' roster are realizing his NHL dream.

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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