Battalion beats ‘Birds
FLINT, Mich. — Justin Brazeau and Adam McMaster each scored two goals and added two assists to power the North Bay Battalion to a 5-3 victory Friday night over the Flint Firebirds to open a three-game Ontario Hockey League road trip.
Brad Chenier had one goal and two assists and goaltender Christian Propp made 35 saves for North Bay, which earned its first road win in moving its won-lost-extended record to 3-5-0 for six points, fifth and last in the Central Division.
Assistant coaches Scott Wray and Adam Dennis ran the bench, as head coach Stan Butler is on medical leave and didn’t make the trip. Despite his absence, Butler was credited with his 1,500th OHL game coached, fourth all-time.
Theo Calvas, acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Sarnia Sting, made his Battalion debut alongside Braden Henderson, another former Sarnia blueliner, as the Troops dressed 11 up front and seven defencemen.
The resignation of Ryan Oulahen as Flint’s head coach for “personal reasons and my family” was announced barely two hours before game time. Greg Stefan was named to coach against the Battalion and in a Saturday night visit by the Kitchener Rangers.
Ty Dellandrea had one goal and one assist and Hunter Holmes and Eric Uba also scored for Flint, 0-8-0, fifth and last in the West Division. Goaltender Emanuel Vella faced 25 shots before 1,701 at the Dort Federal Event Center.
The Troops scored on their first shot of the game, at 4:13 of the first period, as Brazeau raced down the right wing and fired a drive that slipped under Vella’s blocker. McMaster earned the lone assist.
Flint’s Jake Durham hit the crossbar 17 seconds into the game, and Propp denied Kyle Harris from the slot in the third minute. The goaltender foiled C.J. Clarke as he broke in alone in the eighth minute after seizing a turnover. Propp made a key save on Connor Roberts as he drove to the net in the 10th minute and got the right pad on a close-range chance for Ethan Keppen in the 16th.
Dellandrea tied it 42 seconds into the second period when his drive from the slot glanced off the right post and behind Propp, with the goal upheld after a video review for a possible offside.
Brazeau struck again on the power play at 6:17, beating a sliding Vella in close at the left post. Chenier and Brandon Coe collected assists on Brazeau’s team-leading seventh goal of the season. Brazeau’s 27th career power-play goal tied Jay McClement for sixth place on the Battalion list.
Holmes made it 2-2 at 11:32, moving deep into the left-wing circle and putting a wrister past Propp’s glove, but McMaster restored the North Bay lead at 17:10, finishing off a two-on-one rush with Egor Postnov with a drive to the stick side from the right circle.
Uba tied it 3-3 at 9:28 of the third period. Propp blocked a drive from the high slot by Michael Bianconi, but the puck squirted through the crease to Uba, who shoveled it home.
McMaster scored the winner with the man advantage at 12:02, wiring the puck from the right circle high over Vella’s blocker. Chenier and David Maier picked up assists on McMaster’s fourth goal.
Flint’s bid for an equalizer effectively ended at 19:15 when Jack Phibbs went off for high-sticking, and Chenier scored on the power play four seconds later, sliding a Brazeau rebound under the prone Vella. McMaster had the other assist on Chenier’s second goal.
The Battalion continues its trip with a visit to the Saginaw Spirit at 7:05 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: Oulahen, who was in his third season with Flint, played three years with the Battalion in Brampton, culminating in 2004-05 when he was captain, and was an assistant coach for five and a half seasons through 2015-16 … In 208 games, Brazeau has 74 goals and 65 assists for 139 points, tied with Aaron Van Leusen for 20th on the franchise list … Opening lines saw McMaster centring left winger Postnov and right winger Brazeau, Kyle Jackson pivoting left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Luke Moncada centring left winger Harrison Caines and Rhys Forhan on right wing. Centre Patrick Brown and Payton Vescio, normally a defenceman, at right wing saw various linemates … North Bay was without Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker, Kurtis Evans, Matthew Struthers and Cameron Peters … Jackson was recalled from the junior A Ottawa Jr. Senators … Mailhot and Struthers have upper-body injuries, as does Walker, who served a one-game suspension for a purported head check in a 4-1 loss Monday to the visiting Peterborough Petes. Evans served the third game of an eight-game suspension, while Peters is sick … The Battalion went 3-for-8 on the power play. Flint, which hasn’t scored a man-advantage goal this season, was 0-for-3 … The Troops bused to Saginaw on Thursday … Centre Kyle Potts, who cleared OHL waivers last week, was released by the Battalion and has joined the junior A Oakville Blades.