Battalion feasts on Fish
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Brad Chenier scored two goals and added two assists to help power the North Bay Battalion to an 8-3 rout of the Mississauga Steelheads on Sunday in the Troops’ annual New Year’s Eve game.
Luke Burghardt provided two goals and one assist, Andy Baker contributed one goal and three assists, Adam McMaster and Cam Dineen each had one goal and one assist and Luke Moncada scored the other goal, while Brett McKenzie registered four assists. Goaltender Christian Propp made 38 saves before 2,706 at Memorial Gardens.
The Battalion, with a won-lost-extended record of 13-18-5 for 31 points, moved two points ahead of Mississauga for sole possession of third place in the Ontario Hockey League’s Central Division.
Ryan McLeod and Owen Tippett each had one goal and one assist and Cole Schwindt the other goal for the Steelheads, 14-22-1 and fourth in the division. Starting goaltender Emanuel Vella gave up four goals on 12 shots before being relieved by Jacob Ingham, who surrendered four goals on 19 shots.
“We capitalized when we had opportunities,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler. “It wasn’t like we had a lot of chances early, but when we did get them we put the puck in the net.”
North Bay struck for two first-period goals 26 seconds apart, sparked by Chenier at 10:56. Several Troops converged on the puck at the lip of the crease, with McKenzie hitting the crossbar before Chenier steered the puck home. Burghardt then doubled the lead. Stephen Gibson blocked a McKenzie drive, but Burghardt cruised across the goalmouth to backhand the rubber past Vella.
The Battalion outscored the visitors 5-3 in the middle period, netting four goals in the first 5:38.
McKenzie cleanly beat McLeod on a faceoff to Vella’s right and pulled the puck on the forehand back to Burghardt, who whipped it past the goaltender’s glove from the edge of the left-wing circle. The goal, scored 13 seconds into the frame, was Burghardt’s 15th of the season.
Chenier ended Vella’s crease time with what proved to be the winning goal at 1:07, driving to the net to convert a McMaster feed at the left post. Baker also assisted on Chenier’s 10th goal.
Ingham’s first action was a penalty shot awarded by referee Aaron Neely at 2:07 after both Jake Gravelle and Keean Washkurak hooked Burghardt on a breakaway attempt. Burghardt tried to loft a backhander behind Ingham, but he parried the shot with his glove.
Moncada made it 5-0 at 2:58, finishing off a two-on-one rush with Baker by ripping the puck past a sliding Ingham, and the Troops capitalized on another odd-man rush when McMaster put a Chenier pass over Ingham’s glove. Dineen also assisted on McMaster’s third goal.
Mississauga replied with two goals 16 seconds apart, with McLeod connecting from the left circle at 10:35 before Schwindt’s shot from deep on the same side eluded a screened Propp.
Baker knocked home North Bay’s seventh goal at 13:06 as the puck slid across the crease, collecting his seventh goal, and Tippett one-timed a McLeod pass in the right circle at 15:33.
Dineen poked home a McKenzie rebound from deep in the left circle at 16:05 of the third period. Burghardt drew the other assist on defenceman Dineen’s 11th goal.
The Battalion visits the Oshawa Generals at 2:05 p.m. Monday. 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 has an all-time won-lost-tied record of 16-3-1 on Dec. 31. The Steelheads franchise has provided the opposition nine times, including once as the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors and four times as the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. The Mississauga IceDogs were the opponents for the first six years, starting on Dec. 31, 1998, at Brampton, while the Sudbury Wolves have been the opposition twice. Other visitors have been Oshawa, the Kingston Frontenacs and Ottawa 67’s. The Troops have a won-lost-extended record of 3-1-1 on the date at North Bay, having faced the Steelheads three times and Sudbury and Ottawa once each … McKenzie eclipsed Adam Henrich for sole possession of seventh place on the franchise scoring list. McKenzie, who has 88 goals and 110 assists for 198 points in 294 games, is seventh in career Battalion assists … The Troops scored eight goals for the second time this season. The Battalion also scored eight goals on Dec. 31 in 1998 and 2007 against the IceDogs and Majors respectively … Battalion rearguard Adam Thilander, a native of Skovde, Sweden, played his 100th game … North Bay went 5-3-2 in December … The Battalion scratched Eric Allair, Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan and Daniel Walker … Mississauga’s Michael McLeod is with Canada and Jacob Moverare with Sweden at the World Junior Championship at Buffalo, N.Y.