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Clarke, Barlow shine as OHL performers of the month

Brandt Clarke, who's a Los Angeles Kings prospect, was named top defenceman after recording 10 goals and 10 assists in nine games
Barrie Colts defenceman Brandt Clarke (left) and Owen Sound Attack forward Colby Barlow have received top honours from the Ontario Hockey League for January 2023.

Barrie Colts defenceman Brandt Clarke and Owen Sound Attack forward Colby Barlow, who hails from Orillia, have received top honours from the Ontario Hockey League for their stellar play in January. 

The OHL announced its top performers on Wednesday, with Barlow being tapped as player of the month while Clarke was named top defenceman. Rounding out the honours were the Windsor Spitfires' Liam Greentree as top rookie and the North Bay Battalion's Domenic DiVincentiis as top goalie.

Clarke, who's a Los Angeles Kings prospect, was named top defenceman after recording 10 goals and 10 assists in nine games along with a plus-12 rating since returning from the Kings on Jan. 12. He returned to the Colts after winning a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship last month.

The 19-year-old's offensive dominance on the blue-line helped the Colts play to a January record of 6-3-0-0 upon his return. His month included points in eight of his nine contests, including six multi-point showings. 

Clarke recorded a pair of goals and assists (2-2-4) on Jan. 15 to earn first-star honours as the Colts defeated the Mississauga Steelheads, 6-2. The six-foot-two, 188-pound blue-liner went on to register two goals and an assist on Jan. 17 against Owen Sound, assisting on the overtime winner as the Colts defeated the Attack 6-5. Continuing to lead the Colts to victory, Clarke recorded another three points on Jan. 28 with a pair of goals and a helper as Barrie defeated the Flint Firebirds, 6-4. He rounded out January with his first career OHL hat trick the following night, tacking on an assist as the Colts took a 4-1 win over the Saginaw Spirit.

This marks the Nepean native's second career defenceman-of-the-month honour after he was previously recognized in January 2022.

Now in his third season with the Colts, Clarke was voted to the league's second all-star team in 2021-22, recording 59 points (11-48--59) in 55 games. He was Barrie's first-round pick (fourth overall) in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection from the Don Mills Flyers U16 program.

Clarke was selected eighth overall by the L.A. Kings in the 2021 NHL Draft, and signed a three-year entry level NHL contract with the club on Aug. 10, 2021. He played in nine games with Los Angeles earlier this season, recording two assists in the process.

Barlow, who is eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft this summer, scored 14 goals and added six assists and 20 points in 12 games to go along with his plus-6 rating last month. The Attack captain guided his team to an 8-3-1-0 record, registering points in 11 of his 12 outings.

The six-foot-one, 187-pound forward logged a goal and two helpers on Jan. 12 as the Attack defeated the Erie Otters, 6-5, in overtime. Barlow's scoring ways continued on Jan. 14 with another three-point showing, recording an assist and a pair of goals including the game winner in a 6-4 win over the Guelph Storm. He posted another two-goal night on Jan. 21 as the Attack defeated the Peterborough Petes, 7-4 before closing out the month with another game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over the Sudbury Wolves on Jan. 28.

Barlow, 17, becomes the first Attack player to earn OHL player-of-the-month honours since Petrus Palmu was recognized in March 2017.

The Orillia native leads the OHL with 36 goals on the season, including 10 game-winners. Listed as the OHL’s top-ranked skater on NHL's Central Scouting mid-season rankings, Barlow leads the Attack with 63 points (36-27–63) in 42 games.

Now in his second season with Owen Sound, the left-winger has produced career totals that include 66 goals, 44 assists and 110 points in 101 regular-season games. He was voted to the league's first all-rookie team last season, setting an Attack franchise record for goals by a 16-year-old forward with 30.

Barlow was Owen Sound's first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection from the Toronto Marlboros U16 program.