Barrie blanks Battalion 6-0

BARRIE, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion did itself no favours Saturday night in its quest for a playoff berth in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.

The Battalion watched rookie goaltender Christian Propp make 34 saves for his first OHL shutout as the Barrie Colts skated to a 6-0 victory.

Ben Hawerchuk scored two goals and added two assists, Kirill Nizhnikov had two goals, Lucas Chiodo contributed one goal and two assists and Giordano Finoro also scored for Barrie.

North Bay has a won-lost-extended record of 23-35-6 for 52 points, fourth in the Central Division and ninth in the conference, two points behind the Niagara IceDogs, three behind the Sudbury Wolves and five in arrears of the Ottawa 67’s. Sudbury has five games left to play, while the other three teams battling for three playoff positions have four left.

In a game crucial to the chase, the Battalion concludes a two-game road trip against Niagara at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Starting goaltender Brent Moran allowed four goals on 15 shots before being relieved by Julian Sime, who gave up two goals on 17 shots.

Barrie, 17-41-7 for 41 points, last in the division and conference and eliminated from playoff contention, emerged from an eventful first period with a 1-0 lead after Nizhnikov struck on the power play at 4:45, ripping Chiodo’s cross-crease pass over the glove of a sprawling Moran.

The Battalion, which enjoyed four power plays in the period, believed it had tied the game at 16:05 when Brett McKenzie connected from the lip of the crease on a pass from Steve Harland. But after a lengthy discussion between linesman Dave Pfohl and the video goal judge, the goal was disallowed, with McKenzie ruled offside.

North Bay held a 13-8 edge in shots in the frame. Propp made two close-in stops on Max Kislinger, with Adam McMaster and Justin Brazeau also enjoying chances. McKenzie and Zach Poirier each missed an excellent opportunity with the Battalion on the power play. Moran made good stops on Justin Murray, Jaden Peca and Aidan Brown.

After Barrie received a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 2:11, Battalion coach Stan Butler summoned referee Seth Ferguson and pointed out that Jason Smith wasn’t named on the Colts’ lineup, with Jason Willms listed as both No. 19 and, incorrectly, No. 17. Smith was declared ineligible and removed from the game.

Barrie erupted for five second-period goals, including three in a span of 4:01 that spelled the end of Moran’s action.

Hawerchuk scored 51 seconds into the period on a weak shot along the ice, and Chiodo struck at 1:22, banging the puck inside the left post from the lip of the crease. After Moran made good saves on Finoro and Anthony Stefano, Finoro converted a Chiodo pass at 4:52, bringing Sime off the bench.

Hawerchuk hammered the puck home from the edge of the left-wing circle at 13:32 on a backhanded pass from Stefano, who had three assists, and Nizhnikov slipped across the goalmouth to backhand the puck past Sime on the power play at 15:17.

Barrie forged an 11-9 edge in shots in the scoreless third period. The Troops produced some late chances, but Propp denied Kislinger, Brett Hargrave and Daniel Walker.

The game at Niagara can be seen live on CogecoTV Channel 12 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: Attendance at the Barrie Molson Centre was 3,691 … The Battalion went 3-2-1 against the Colts this season. The Troops won 5-2 at Barrie on Nov. 12 before posting two extended-time wins at home, 4-3 via shootout Nov. 20 and 3-2 in overtime Jan. 15. Barrie won 6-1 at home Feb. 18 and 4-3 in overtime March 2 at North Bay … While the Colts recorded their first shutout of the campaign, the Battalion was blanked for the seventh time this season. The Troops last were shut out at Barrie on Dec. 11, 2008, when goaltender Michael Hutchinson made 36 saves in a 4-0 victory … The Battalion surrendered five goals in a period for the fourth time this season … North Bay went 0-for-6 with the man advantage. Barrie, with the league’s 20th-ranked power play, was 2-for-3 … The Battalion, which dressed 17 skaters, one below the limit, was without Eric Allair, Cam Dineen, Riley Bruce, Jacob Ball and Mat Woroniuk … The Battalion was to overnight at St. Catharines … Barrie defenceman Tom Hedberg, a second-round pick in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft last June, has four goals and 19 assists for 23 points in 52 games. As a 17-year-old, Hedberg is considered a rookie, while Battalion rearguard Adam Thilander, a first-round selection and fellow Swede, isn’t deemed a rookie because he’s 18 … Jason Faist was the other referee.

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