Battalion downs Rangers 5-4
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Justin Brazeau scored two goals, including the winner at 19:06 of the third period, as the North Bay Battalion defeated the Kitchener Rangers 5-4 Thursday night, vaulting past the Sudbury Wolves into fourth place in the Ontario Hockey League’s Central Division.
Cam Dineen contributed one goal and two assists, Nick King had one goal and one assist and Adam McMaster also scored for North Bay, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 8-13-3 for 19 points, one more than Sudbury with two games in hand.
Goaltender Julian Sime, an 11th-round pick by Kitchener in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection who never played for the club, made 34 saves before 2,216 at Memorial Gardens.
Riley Damiani scored two goals for Kitchener, which got singles from Logan Stanley and Jonathan Yantsis. Goaltender Chris McGonigle faced 23 shots for coach Jay McKee’s Rangers, who had won their previous four games and eight of nine. Kitchener is 15-7-2 for 32 points atop the Midwest Division.
“Any time you can get scoring from more players than you usually do, it increases your chances to win,” said coach Stan Butler, whose Troops won a second straight game, after a 6-5 decision Sunday at Sudbury. “I’m really happy for the kids. We’ve had a lot of tough losses this year, and it’s nice to see them have a good win.”
The Battalion carried a 4-3 lead into the third period, but Kitchener, which erased a pair of two-goal deficits, tied it when Damiani spun deep in the left-wing circle and beat Sime high to the glove side at 2:15. The Rangers, who outshot the Battalion 11-5 in the frame, had the better chances through the rest of the period, but Sime was sharp.
The winning goal resulted when Dineen cruised deep down the left wing and passed the puck across the goalmouth to Brazeau, who tipped it home for his team-leading 17th goal of the season. Luke Burghardt also assisted.
McGonigle went to the bench for a sixth skater with 45 seconds left. Kitchener’s best chance came when Stanley fired the puck off the post and Adam Mascherin and Connor Bunnaman stormed the crease.
McMaster opened the scoring on the power play at 5:20 of the first period, racing down the right wing, skirting Giovanni Vallati and snapping the puck high over McGonigle’s glove. King and Sime drew assists on McMaster’s second goal.
Dineen connected with the man advantage at 9:30 when his snap shot from above the circles beat McGonigle, who was screened by Brazeau. Burghardt and Brett McKenzie assisted on defenceman Dineen’s seventh goal.
The Rangers tied it with goals 1:53 apart in the second period, starting when rearguard Stanley beat a screened Sime with a wrister from the top of the right circle at 8:49. Damiani then struck on the power play at 10:42 off a pass from behind the goal line from Mascherin.
Brazeau gave the Troops a 3-2 lead 35 seconds later. McGonigle stopped a Dineen shot, but the puck squirted from the goaltender’s glove and lay behind him in the crease, with Brazeau arriving to knock it over the line. McKenzie was credited with the second assist.
King scored on the power play at 15:56 as a screened McGonigle failed to find the shot from the left circle. Assists on defenceman King’s second goal went to Riley Bruce and Brad Chenier. Yantsis answered at 18:29, beating Sime to the glove side from the left circle after Nick McHugh grabbed a Bruce turnover.
The Battalion plays host to the Barrie Colts at 2 p.m. Sunday as Subway presents Food Bank Day.
BATTALION BULLETS: OHL Big Ticket Night in support of Special Olympics Ontario featured a silent auction in the north concourse. A second-intermission bucket pass saw more than $2,900 raised toward the National Games next summer at Antigonish, N.S. Sponsors numbered the Battalion, North Bay YMCA, Algonquin and Robinson’s Pharmasaves, Foot & Sole, Hampton Inn, Hickory Farm, Metro, St. John’s Ambulance, The Escape Movement and The Home Depot … Christian Propp backed up Sime. Propp, a former Colts goaltender, hasn’t played since suffering a lower-body injury early in his Battalion debut, a 4-0 win Oct. 26 over the visiting Windsor Spitfires … In 282 games, McKenzie has 103 assists, one more than Dylan Blujus and Barclay Goodrow and eighth in franchise history … Burghardt has an eight-game points streak, the Troops’ longest this season, in which he has three goals and seven assists for 10 points … Brazeau has scored in the last four games, with five goals … North Bay went 3-for-4 on the power play. Kitchener was 1-for-3 … The Battalion was without Eric Allair, Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan and Daniel Walker … The Rangers have hired Kitchener native Dennis Wideman as an assistant coach for the rest of the season. Defenceman Wideman played five OHL seasons with Sudbury and the London Knights through 2003-04 before playing 870 National Hockey League games with five clubs in 12 seasons.