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Erie blanks Battalion 3-0

ERIE, Pa. — Kyle Maksimovich scored two goals, including an empty-netter, and Jordan Sambrook had the other to lead the Erie Otters to a 3-0 victory Saturday night over the North Bay Battalion as Erie goaltender Anand Oberoi made 28 saves for his first Ontario Hockey League shutout.

Maksimovich also contributed an assist and Ivan Lodnia earned three as Erie broke a nine-game losing streak, moving its won-lost-extended record to 11-17-6 for 28 points, fifth in the Midwest Division.

Goaltender Christian Propp faced 25 shots in a strong performance for North Bay, 12-18-4 for 28 points, third in the Central Division. The Battalion, playing a third game in three nights, completed a two-game road trip with its last game before the OHL’s Christmas break, having defeated the Niagara IceDogs 6-3 Friday night.

Defenceman Sambrook made it 2-0 at 8:34 of the third period, taking a back pass from Lodnia and snapping the puck past Propp from the right-wing circle before 3,181 at the Erie Insurance Arena.

The Battalion stepped up the pace in an effort to tie it, with Kyle Potts and Andy Baker jamming at the puck in the crease in the 12th minute in an attempt to break first-year goaltender Oberoi’s shutout bid.

Propp was forced to glove penalty killer Christian Girhiny’s drive on a two-on-one rush soon after that, and Justin Brazeau and Brett McKenzie whacked at the puck with Oberoi scrambling in the 17th minute.

Propp left for a sixth skater with three minutes to play, and Maksimovich, who was hooked down on the way to the empty net by Adam Thilander, slid and scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season at 18:56.

Maksimovich struck during a two-man advantage at 9:25 of the first period after Potts and Brandon Coe went off together for crosschecking and hooking respectively at 7:30. Propp made a stellar save on Gera Poddubnyi at the back door on the left side, and it appeared the Troops would survive the situation, but Maksimovich cashed a Lodnia rebound from the right circle on Erie’s third shot of the power play.

Luke Burghardt hit the crossbar on the power play after Erie’s Chad Yetman was called for tripping at 1:19, and McKenzie rang the puck off the left post in the 11th minute. Propp snagged a Cade Robinson drive on a shorthanded two-on-one rush after Lodnia was penalized for tripping at 14:42, with the Battalion failing to mount an attack.

But the Troops threatened late, with Burghardt, McKenzie, Cam Dineen and Brazeau among those with good chances. Jesse Saban and Adam McMaster followed up a turnover with a two-man sortie in the 18th minute, with Oberoi denying Saban from the left side.

Oberoi gloved a Brazeau blast off a two-on-one rush with McKenzie in the fourth minute of the second period, and Propp countered with a blocker stop from his stomach against Patrick Fellows as the Otters stormed the crease in the seventh.

After Alex Robert and Erie’s Kurtis Henry drew roughing minors at 10:05, Saban fell in the neutral zone while retreating in the face of a looming breakaway but managed to get his stick on the puck to deny the chance.

Oberoi stretched for a left-toe save against Brazeau on a setup from behind the net by McKenzie in the 18th minute.

The Battalion, which reached the halfway point of its schedule, returns to action when it plays host to Niagara at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28.

BATTALION BULLETS: It was the first meeting of the season between the Battalion and Otters, the reigning OHL champions. The series wraps up when Erie visits Memorial Gardens on Feb. 1 … The Otters had gone 0-6-3 in their previous nine games since a 5-4 victory via shootout Nov. 23 over the visiting Ottawa 67’s … McKenzie played his 292nd game, eclipsing Cameron Wind and Matt McLeod for sole possession of third place on the Battalion’s all-time list. Marcus McIvor holds the franchise record with 324 games, while Barclay Goodrow is second at 313 … Dineen saw the end of a five-game points streak in which he had three goals and three assists for six points … The Battalion went 0-for-4 on the power play. Erie was 1-for-3 … The Troops’ Brad Chenier completed a two-game suspension for a slew-footing match penalty in a 5-2 loss Thursday night to the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs … In addition to Chenier, the Battalion was without Eric Allair, Rhys Forhan and Daniel Walker … Among the missing for Erie was Taylor Raddysh, who’s with the Canadian entry in the World Junior Championship, which opens Dec. 26 at Buffalo, N.Y. He has 15 goals and 29 assists for 44 points in 30 games … Maksimovich, with five goals in the last four games, has a nine-game points streak during which he has eight goals and six assists for 14 points … Lodnia has one goal and six assists for seven points in the last four games.

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