FLINT, Mich. — Jake Durham scored two goals, including an empty-netter, and added one assist as the Flint Firebirds defeated the depleted North Bay Battalion 6-3 in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night.
Nicholas Caamano had one goal and two assists, Everett Clark contributed one goal and one assist and Maurizio Colella and Michal Steinocher also scored for Flint, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 29-23-5 for 63 points, third in the West Division. Goaltender Connor Hicks faced 34 shots before 2,590 at the Dort Federal Event Center.
Adam Thilander had one goal and one assist for North Bay, which also got goals from Andy Baker and Kyle Potts in opening a three-game road trip. The Battalion, 21-32-4 for 46 points, is fourth in the Central Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference, sitting outside a playoff berth.
The Troops are two points behind the Ottawa 67’s, who beat the visiting Oshawa Generals 3-2, and the Niagara IceDogs, who lost 3-2 to the host Kingston Frontenacs. The Troops, who dressed 17 skaters, one below the limit, blanked the visiting Firebirds 6-0 on Dec. 8.
Starting goaltender Brent Moran allowed four goals on 20 shots before being relieved by Julian Sime, who gave up one goal on 17 shots. Moran, who joined the Troops in a trade from Flint last August, has been pulled in five of his last eight starts.
Colella, whom North Bay traded to Flint on Jan. 6, opened the scoring on the power play at 1:49 of the first period, redirecting Mathieu Henderson’s shot from the right point past Moran’s glove.
Clark was awarded a penalty shot at 8:13 after being grabbed by Thilander. Clark moved slowly in along the right wing before snapping a wrister past Moran’s blocker. The goal was the first the Troops had allowed via penalty shot since Jan. 16, 2014, when Andreas Athanasiou of the visiting Barrie Colts beat goaltender Jake Smith.
Defenceman Thilander struck on the power play at 9:14 as he moved into the left-wing circle and buried a cross-ice pass from Steve Harland. Brett McKenzie also assisted on Thilander’s fifth goal of the season.
The Firebirds responded 34 seconds later as Caamano converted his own rebound, and Steinocher, a defenceman playing up front, gave Flint a 4-1 lead and ended Moran’s night at 3:01 of the second period. Thilander blocked Alex Peters’s shot from the blue line, but the puck went to Steinocher, who hammered it over Moran’s glove from the slot.
Baker cut the deficit at 5:40 when he tipped home Mark Shoemaker’s drive from the blue line. Brady Lyle had the other assist on Baker’s second goal.
Durham was credited with Flint’s fifth goal, at 7:35, when he moved below the goal line and banked the puck into the net off Sime’s left pad.
North Bay pulled within 5-3 at 4:44 of the third period when Potts’s drive from the high slot glanced off Hicks’s blocker into the net. Potts’s 10th goal was assisted by Thilander and Zach Shankar.
The Battalion had the only two power plays of the period, but Hicks turned aside two drives from the left circle by Thilander and one off the right wing by Adam McMaster. Justin Brazeau and Zach Poirier had close-in chances in the 14th minute, and Brazeau threatened from the left circle in the 16th.
Sime went to the bench for a sixth attacker with 2:20 left to play, and Durham finished the scoring into the empty net at 19:13.
The Battalion visits the Saginaw Spirit at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. The game can be heard live on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion left North Bay on Thursday, overnighting at Saginaw … McKenzie played his 253rd career game, tying Wojtek Wolski and John de Gray for 10th place in franchise history … McKenzie fought Peters at 7:21 of the third period, with both drawing majors … The Battalion went 1-for-4 on the power play. Flint was 1-for-1 … Opening lines featured Potts centring McMaster on left wing and right winger Brazeau, Poirier pivoting left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Baker and Brett Hargrave centring left winger Brett Hahkala and right winger Rhys Forhan. Centre McKenzie and right winger Harland had rotating left wingers … The Battalion was without Cam Dineen, Riley Bruce, Daniel Walker, Jacob Ball, Max Kislinger, Daniil Vertiy and Mat Woroniuk … Hargrave returned after missing six games with an upper-body ailment, but rearguard Eric Allair left after one period … Walker and Kislinger completed two-game suspensions … Baker and Hahkala, a 17-year-old making his OHL debut, were up from the junior A Powassan Voodoos. Hahkala is the first Battalion forward to wear No. 7 since left winger Bryan Blair, who played two games with Brampton in the expansion season of 1998-99 before a trade to the Windsor Spitfires. Right winger Jason Doyle had worn the number in four games before joining the London Knights … McMaster marked his 17th birthday.