Battalion ambushes Sting

SARNIA, Ont. — Brett McKenzie’s goal at 10:43 of the third period proved the difference as the North Bay Battalion stunned the Sarnia Sting 3-2 Friday night, ending Sarnia’s Ontario Hockey League winning streak at five games.

Luke Burghardt had one goal and one assist and Justin Brazeau the other goal for North Bay, while goaltender Julian Sime produced 30 saves in a stellar performance. The Battalion has a won-lost-extended record of 9-15-3 for 21 points, one point behind the fourth-place Sudbury Wolves in the Central Division after their 6-3 victory over the visiting Mississauga Steelheads.

Ryan McGregor contributed one goal and one assist and Sean Josling also scored for Sarnia, 21-5-1 for 43 points, second in the West Division. Goaltender Aidan Hughes faced 36 shots before 2,810 at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena, where the Sting is 11-2-1. Sarnia’s only other home-ice loss in regulation time came Sept. 23 in a 3-1 setback to the Kitchener Rangers.

The Troops, who lost 5-2 to the Windsor Spitfires in the opener of a three-game road trip Thursday night, led 2-1 after 40 minutes and threatened to increase the lead early in the third period as Brazeau fired high over an open net in the first minute and was foiled on the doorstep by Hughes in the fourth.

But it was McKenzie, who had several scoring chances, who provided a cushion and the eventual winner when he stole the puck from Connor Schlichting at the blue line and cut off the left wing to backhand the puck over the sprawling Hughes. It was McKenzie’s seventh goal of the season.

McGregor replied at 15:27, seven seconds after a Sarnia power play expired, jamming the puck under Sime from the right edge of the crease to set up a stirring finish. Hughes left for a sixth attacker with 1:16 to play, and the Sting strained to secure the tying goal, but the Troops were strong in their own and the neutral zones, breaking up rush after rush to avenge an 8-2 loss on home ice Oct. 19.

After the teams finished the first period tied 1-1, Burghardt struck at 11:05 of the second frame for his 11th goal, intercepting a Theo Calvas pass from behind the net and putting several dekes on Hughes before roofing the rubber home.

Seconds later, Sime denied Brady Hinz at the back door on the left wing before foiling the onrushing Adam Ruzicka with the Battalion killing a bench minor for too many men issued at 14:41. McKenzie was denied on a shorthanded breakaway, and Brazeau missed an open net on a two-on-one setup from Burghardt at 17:13.

Josling scored 45 seconds after the opening faceoff after the puck deflected high away from the net, catching up to the disc in the right-wing circle, spinning and rifling it past Sime.

The Battalion produced a big penalty kill, including a two-man disadvantage lasting 55 seconds after Brazeau went off for a head check at 11:26 and McKenzie was assessed a weak tripping call at 12:31. Jesse Saban sacrificed himself blocking a shot, and Sime produced solid saves.

Brazeau collected his team-leading 18th goal at 15:04, taking a pass from Burghardt and driving to the net from the right side to bank the puck off Jordan Ernst.

The Battalion completes the road trip by visiting the London Knights at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: Stan Butler was credited with his 681st OHL coaching win, tying Larry Mavety for fourth place all-time. Butler has a won-lost-tied record of 681-705-65 in 1,451 games with the Oshawa Generals and Battalion. His record with the Troops is 611-656-52 in 1,319 games. Mavety coached the Belleville Bulls and Kingston Canadians and Frontenacs, ending in 2008-09 …  The Troops’ Brad Chenier saw the end of a four-game points streak in which he had five goals and two assists for seven points … Saban played his 200th OHL game and his 55th with the Battalion after 23 with the Erie Otters, 27 with Belleville and 95 with the Hamilton Bulldogs after the Bulls relocated … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Sarnia was 0-for-5 … Opening lines had McKenzie centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Adam McMaster pivoting left winger Luke Moncada and right winger Brandon Coe and Kyle Potts centring left winger Chenier and right winger Andy Baker. Patrick Brown centred Alex Robert on left wing and Kurtis Evans on right wing … The Battalion was without Eric Allair, Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan and Daniel Walker … Coe, the youngest player in the league, turned 16 Friday. He was a first-round choice in the OHL Priority Selection last April from the Toronto Nationals minor midgets … Sarnia’s Jordan Kyrou, who leads the OHL in scoring with 52 points in 25 games, was held without a point.

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