Battalion downs Erie 5-2
ERIE, Pa. — Matthew Struthers scored three goals, including the winner, and added an assist to power the North Bay Battalion to a 5-2 victory Saturday night over the Erie Otters, giving the Troops a season-high third straight Ontario Hockey League win.
Justin Brazeau contributed one goal and two assists and Brandon Coe also scored as North Bay evened its won-lost-extended record at 7-7-0 for 14 points, fifth in the Central Division, in opening a two-game road trip. Brazeau leads OHL scorers with 32 points on 15 goals and 17 assists in 14 games.
Goaltender Christian Propp provided 24 saves as the Battalion won at Erie for the first time since a 2-1 verdict Dec. 17, 2010, when the franchise still was in Brampton.
Chad Yetman and Gera Poddubnyi scored for the Otters, 5-7-1 for 11 points, fifth in the Midwest Division. Goaltender Noah Battaglia faced 28 shots before 3,004 at Erie Insurance Arena. The Otters, who dressed 17 skaters, one below the limit, had won four in a row since a 5-3 setback Oct. 14 to the host Ottawa 67’s.
Struthers broke a 2-2 tie on the power play at 19:10 of the second period, beating Battaglia high on the short side from a near-impossible angle deep on right wing. Brad Chenier, who fed Struthers from behind the net, and Nick King earned assists.
Erie, which erased a 2-0 deficit in the period, outshot the Battalion 13-8 in the frame. Propp was busy in the fourth minute as the Otters buzzed around his net. The hosts’ best chance in that span came when Joseph Mack’s shot from deep in the right circle glanced off Propp into the crease, only to be cleared by Brazeau.
Coe’s third goal of the season, all coming in the last four games, made it 4-2 at 1:22 of the third period as he buried a loose puck at the lip of the crease past a prone Battaglia. Kurtis Evans, with his first point of the season, and Theo Calvas earned the assists.
The Battalion then put the game away by converting on a two-man advantage at 14:09 as Struthers buried a Chenier feed at the right post. Brazeau drew the other assist on Struthers’s 11th goal.
North Bay scored on its first shot of the game, at 4:50 of the first period, when Struthers lofted a wrister from deep in the right circle that beat Battaglia high to the stick side. Brazeau had the only assist.
Propp, who faced six shots in the period, produced good stops on two chances for Kyle Maksimovich. The Otters’ best scoring opportunity came in the eighth minute when Brendan Hoffmann just missed cashing a loose puck at the lip of the crease.
Brazeau made it 2-0 on the power play at 1:37 of the second period, sweeping a cross-ice pass from Struthers past a lunging Battaglia from the left circle. King had the second assist on Brazeau’s 15th goal, which tied Tye Felhaber of Ottawa for the league lead.
Erie got on the board on the power play at 9:26 when Yetman beat Propp low to the glove side from the right circle, and Poddubnyi tied it at 13:07 when his wrister off the right wing found its way over Propp’s blocker.
The Battalion completes the road trip against the Hamilton Bulldogs at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion and Otters wrap up their season series Thursday night at North Bay in a quick rematch … In 214 games, Brazeau has 82 goals and 74 assists for 156 points, the 13th-highest total in franchise history, three points ahead of Lukas Havel. Brazeau has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in the last five games … Struthers has scored nine goals and earned 11 assists for 20 points in his last seven games … Opening lines featured Struthers centring left winger Egor Postnov and right winger Brazeau, Adam McMaster pivoting left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Luke Moncada centring left winger Daniel Walker and right winger Evans. Centre Cameron Peters and left winger Harrison Caines had various linemates … The Battalion, which dressed seven defencemen, scratched Travis Mailhot, Simon Rose, Rhys Forhan and Patrick Brown … Walker played his 100th game after the Battalion took him in the 10th round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Sudbury Wolves minor midgets … Evans returned from an eight-game suspension for a head check in a 7-5 loss Sept. 30 to the host Oshawa Generals … The Battalion went 3-for-9 on the power play. Erie was 1-for-4 … The Troops left North Bay on Friday and overnighted at Hamilton, returning there after the game … The referees were Darcy Burchell and Drew Jackson.