‘Dogs down Battalion in season opener
NORTH BAY, Ont. — The Niagara IceDogs stole the thunder at Memorial Gardens on Friday night, defeating the North Bay Battalion 3-1 in the Ontario Hockey League season opener for both teams.
Kyle Langdon had one goal and one assist and William Lochead and Matthew Philip a goal apiece for the IceDogs, who got 32 saves from rookie goaltender Colton Incze.
David Bell made his debut as head coach after the firing of Marty Williamson, who took Niagara to the OHL final last season, losing to the London Knights.
Brad Chenier scored for the Battalion, while goaltender Brent Moran, a former member of the IceDogs, provided 38 saves for North Bay, which dressed 13 forwards and five defencemen as both teams had veterans attending National Hockey League camps.
A crowd of 3,080 raised the curtain on the fourth season of Battalion hockey in the Gateway City, chanting “Go, Troops, go” before both the player introductions and the opening faceoff, but it was the IceDogs who stormed out of the gate and by the final period had the crowd subdued.
“I thought he was good,” Battalion coach Stan Butler said of Moran, an overager acquired in an Aug. 22 trade with the Flint Firebirds, while describing the overall effort as “disgusting.”
“He was definitely our best player; he gave us a chance. The only reason we scored the first goal tonight was because of how he played.”
Added Butler: “I thought our compete level was terrible. We got knocked off the puck all night. My hat’s off to Niagara. They came in here and they showed our guys how hard you’ve got to work.”
Chenier opened the scoring at 2:37 of the second period when he shoveled home the rebound of Eric Allair’s shot from directly in front of Incze. It was the first OHL goal for Chenier, who earned one assist in nine games last season, and the first point for fellow rookie Allair.
After Moran denied Danial Singer on a breakaway in the fifth minute, defenceman Lochead tied it at 5:31 on a heavily screened left-point shot that was deflected on the way to the net. Langdon then scored what proved to be the winning goal 37 seconds later, converting Ondrej Machala’s rebound from the goalmouth.
North Bay’s Jacob Ball struggled off the ice after blocking a shot while killing a mid-period hooking penalty to Max Kislinger. Ball didn’t return.
Philip connected at 5:52 of the third period, poking a puck past a scrum of Troops and just across the goal line in his OHL debut.
Moran and Incze kept the first period scoreless as the visitors outshot the Battalion 14-7. Moran snagged a drive from the slot by Langdon in the seventh minute and, soon thereafter, smothered a puck that sneaked through traffic and hit the right post. Incze produced a sterling glove save on Kyle Potts in tight to the goaltender off a setup from Maurizio Colella at 8:05.
Niagara’s Nick Pastorious received a charging major and game misconduct for ramming Mark Shoemaker into the boards at 12:29. The Troops had several good chances on the power play but managed only one shot as the IceDogs weathered the assault.
The Battalion is idle until hosting the Kitchener Rangers at 7 p.m. next Friday.
BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion has an all-time won-lost-extended record of 5-12-2 in home openers, including 0-3-1 since relocating to North Bay. The Troops have a won-lost-tied record of 4-14-1 in season openers, including 3-10-1 on home ice … Opening line combinations featured Brett Hargrave centring left winger Daniil Vertiy and right winger Steve Harland, Adam McMaster centring left winger David Sherman and right winger Zach Poirier and Potts pivoting left winger Colella and Kislinger on right wing. Ball centred left winger Chenier and Daniel Walker and Rhys Forhan, who shared time on the right wing … The defencemen were Shoemaker, Zach Shankar, Adam Thilander, Brady Lyle and Allair … The Battalion was without Cam Dineen, Riley Bruce, Brett McKenzie and Justin Brazeau, who are at NHL camps. Moran and Shoemaker had just returned from NHL rookie camps … McMaster, Walker, Forhan, Thilander and Allair made their OHL regular-season debuts, while rookie Mat Woroniuk backed up Moran … Shankar, named Wednesday as an alternate under captain Bruce with McKenzie and Dineen, was the only regular letter-wearer in the lineup but was joined by Poirier and Shoemaker … The Battalion roster is at 24 after defenceman Jake Ramalho was claimed on waivers Thursday by the Mississauga Steelheads … North Bay went 0-for-2 on the power play. Niagara was 0-for-3.