NORTH BAY, Ont. — Sam Bitten scored two goals and added two assists in helping the Ottawa 67’s to a 7-4 victory over the North Bay Battalion in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday.
Sasha Chmelevski and Kody Clark each had one goal and two assists, Jack Quinn contributed one goal and one assist and Tye Felhaber and Austen Keating also scored for Ottawa. Goaltender Cedrick Andree faced 24 shots.
Ottawa, which boasts the OHL’s best record, has a won-lost-extended log of 19-3-3 for 41 points atop the East Division. The 67’s are 16-0-3 since a 4-3 loss in regulation time Oct. 3 at North Bay in which Matthew Struthers and David Maier each scored two goals for the hosts.
Adam McMaster scored two goals for the Battalion, which got one goal and two assists from Justin Brazeau and its other goal from Mason Primeau. The Troops, who have lost their last three games, are 10-11-1 for 21 points, fifth in the Central Division. Goaltender Christian Propp made 24 saves before a Memorial Gardens crowd of 2,102, the smallest of the season.
North Bay was without forwards Struthers and Daniel Walker, each of whom started serving a suspension.
“This was our best effort of the weekend,” said Battalion assistant coach Adam Dennis. “We had a hard time controlling their speed. We didn’t really slow them down through the neutral zone, and they cashed in on more of their chances than we did. We could have used a save here and there, but that’s hockey.
“This was a key test for us. They’re a good team. We knew that going in, and they’re missing some key guys too. When you can be within a goal going into the third period against a team like that, you’re within striking distance. We gave ourselves a chance.”
Felhaber opened the scoring with his league-leading 24th goal of the season at 8:44 of the first period after Theo Calvas failed to keep the puck in the Ottawa zone at the blue line. Felhaber tore off on a left-wing rush to beat Propp low to the glove side.
Chmelevski struck at 11:14, looking off Clark and ripping a shot over Propp’s blocker. A weak tripping call to Brad Chenier then sent the 67’s to the power play, and they capitalized at 14:56 as Quinn put a wrister past Propp’s right pad from the edge of the right circle.
Primeau responded at 15:24, rushing to the net and chipping a Maier feed under the crossbar. Brandon Coe also assisted on Primeau’s fifth goal of the campaign and second since joining the Battalion in a trade Thursday with the Guelph Storm.
With the teams skating four a side, McMaster made it 3-2 at 10:25 of the second period, slipping past Hudson Wilson to the mid slot and sliding the puck past Andree’s left pad. Brazeau and Simon Rose earned assists.
Brazeau tied it on the power play with his team-leading 20th goal at 14:24 when he weaved his way past Mitchell Hoelscher, Merrick Rippon and Kevin Bahl to beat Andree with a backhand deke. Maier and Propp, who collected his first OHL point, drew the assists. Brazeau, who has 22 assists and 42 points in 22 games, is second in the OHL scoring race.
Ottawa went back in front at 15:20, taking advantage of a turnover in the slot as Keating shoveled a loose puck inside the right post, but the Troops had several good chances late in the period. Andree denied Maier and Patrick Brown, and Brazeau was unable to corral a pass on a two-on-one rush with Chenier. Among Propp’s nine saves was a glove stop on Felhaber on a breakaway in the 12th minute.
The visitors struck for three consecutive goals in the third period to put the game away. Clark scored what proved to be the winner at 1:05, converting into an open net after Bahl’s shot from the left point glanced off Bitten, who scored at 6:40 and 13:27 before McMaster connected at 18:41 when he beat Andree with a wrister. Brazeau and Luke Moncada earned assists on McMaster’s ninth goal.
The Battalion plays host to the Saginaw Spirit at 7 p.m. Thursday.
BATTALION BULLETS: It was the teams’ second meeting, the first of which drew the previous low attendance of 2,147. They face off Dec. 2 and Feb. 18 at Ottawa … Walker has been suspended for five games and Struthers for four for actions in a 7-1 loss Friday night to the visiting Sudbury Wolves. Walker drew a match penalty and game misconduct for an attempt to injure, while Struthers received a match penalty and game misconduct for kicking … Brazeau has 87 goals, 10th on the Battalion’s all-time list, one behind Brett McKenzie, who leads scorers in the North Bay era … Each team went 1-for-4 on the power play … Opening lines featured McMaster centring left winger Chenier and right winger Brazeau, Primeau pivoting left winger Harrison Caines and right winger Coe and Moncada centring Cameron Peters on left wing and right winger Kurtis Evans. Centre Brown and Rhys Forhan on right wing had various linemates … Apart from Struthers and Walker, the Battalion, which dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, was without Travis Mailhot, Egor Postnov and Payton Vescio … Felhaber has a 10-game points streak in which he has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points … Chmelevski has one goal and eight assists for nine points in the last four games … Among the missing for Ottawa, which dressed 16 skaters, two below the limit, were Marco Rossi and Graeme Clarke.