FLINT, Mich. — Kyle Potts scored two goals, including the winner, to pace the North Bay Battalion to a 5-1 victory over the Flint Firebirds in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night.
Justin Brazeau had one goal and one assist and Adam McMaster and Riley Bruce also were credited with goals for North Bay, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 6-8-2 for 14 points, fourth in the Central Division. Goaltender Julian Sime, who was backed up by Christian Purboo, made 41 saves as the Battalion opened a three-game road trip.
Nicholas Caamano scored the goal and goaltender Garrett Forrest faced 30 shots for Flint, 6-9-1 for 13 points, fourth in the West Division, before 2,989 at the Dort Federal Event Center. The Firebirds have lost six straight games since a 7-3 win Oct. 21 over the visiting Peterborough Petes, being outscored 37-9 since then.
“The difference in the game was probably goaltending,” said coach Stan Butler, whose Troops wore their white sweaters and socks. “We know Forrest is a great goalie, but tonight was Julian’s night. He was great and, even in the third period, when Flint really pushed, he was there to make the saves he needed to make.
“It was nice to see Potts, who’s kind of an unsung hero, a third-line centre who works really hard, get rewarded.”
North Bay was outshot 10-6 in the first period but emerged with a 2-0 lead, striking twice among its first three shots. The first resulted in McMaster’s first goal of the season, at 7:10, as he beat Forrest to the stick side with a wrister from the right-wing circle. Potts followed with what proved to be the winner at 12:24, snapping the puck over Forrest’s blocker off the left wing. Brad Chenier and Adam Thilander drew assists.
Flint’s best chance came in the 16th minute during the period’s lone power play, but Sime was tight to the right post to deny Caamano and Ryan Moore as they whacked at a loose puck.
Bruce was credited with a goal at 12:01 of the middle period, seconds after Forrest denied Rhys Forhan from the deep slot. Forhan dished the rebound to defenceman Bruce, whose shot from the right point eluded Forrest, likely because it was redirected by Andy Baker. Officially, Forhan and Daniel Walker assisted on Bruce’s first goal.
Potts collected his third goal at 16:55 for a 4-0 lead. Forrest made an initial stop on Brazeau as he drove to the net and produced several saves while prone on the ice before Potts put a rebound past the goaltender’s outstretched right leg. Brazeau and Cam Dineen earned assists.
Sime was strong in the period, turning aside 15 shots, none more threatening than Ty Dellandrea’s shorthanded breakaway attempt, with the goaltender sliding across the crease to parry a backhander.
Brazeau struck at 6:59 of the third period, streaking down the right wing and ripping the puck over Forrest’s glove. Thilander had the lone assist on Brazeau’s team-leading 12th goal.
The Firebirds finally solved Sime at 7:36 when Caamano finished off a three-way passing play at the right post.
Sime, who faced 17 shots in the period, was strong early as Flint applied pressure. Sime denied Dellandrea in the opening minute, came up with two more saves on Caamano and turned away chances for C.J. Clarke and Hunter Holmes. Jake Durham hit the crossbar in the 12th minute on a shorthanded two-on-one rush with Holmes.
The Battalion faces the Saginaw Spirit at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. The game can be heard live on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: Mickey Redmond, a native of Kirkland Lake, Ont., who won two Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, in 1968 and 1969, before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings to complete his National Hockey League career, was honoured before the game. Right winger Redmond set a Detroit franchise record, since eclipsed, with 52 goals in 1972-73. In 538 NHL games, he had 233 goals and 195 assists for 428 points. He played four seasons with Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey Association culminating in 1966-67. At 69 he still does colour commentary on Red Wings telecasts … Brazeau has 10 goals and three assists for 13 points in the last eight games, going without a point once in that span … Potts had his first multi-goal game … North Bay was 0-for-3 on the power play. Flint went 0-for-2 … The Battalion was without Eric Allair, Travis Mailhot, Kurtis Evans, Brandon Coe and Christian Propp … The Firebirds’ Maurizio Colella and Max Kislinger are former Battalion members, and North Bay once held the OHL rights to Forrest. Flint coach Ryan Oulahen, a former Battalion captain and assistant coach, was absent while serving as head coach of Canada White, one of three Canadian entries in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C., starting Sunday. Paul Flache, another former Battalion member, is associate coach … Coe is with Canada Red.