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Greyhounds outrace Troops

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Jack Kopacka’s power-play goal at 10:36 of the second period stood up as the winner as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds pushed their Ontario Hockey League winning streak to four games with a 3-1 victory Sunday over the North Bay Battalion.

Brett Jacklin and Boris Katchouk, into an empty net, also scored for the Greyhounds, who improved their won-lost-extended record to 13-3-2 for 28 points, second in the West Division. Goaltender Matthew Villalta was credited with 25 saves, although Battalion shots were under-counted.

Brett McKenzie scored for North Bay, 6-10-2 for 14 points, fifth in the Central Division after the Mississauga Steelheads dumped the visiting Peterborough Petes 9-2. Goaltender Julian Sime faced 32 shots as the Troops wrapped up a three-game weekend road trip.

“It’s tough to generate offence when you’re killing penalties,” said coach Stan Butler, whose Battalion was shorthanded seven times before 3,627 at the Essar Centre.

Rookie Jacklin opened the scoring with his first OHL goal at 15:18 of the first period, snapping a feed from Morgan Frost past Sime’s glove from the edge of the left-wing circle. Tim Gettinger also assisted.

The goal immediately followed a check from behind into the boards by Gettinger on Cam Dineen that leveled the defenceman behind the net and knocked his helmet off his head. Dineen was on his feet in an apparently dazed state when Jacklin scored, leaving Butler incredulous that there was no penalty on the play.

Sime, who was tested with 12 shots, was sharp over the last minute and a half of the period when he faced close-in chances for Frost, Katchouk, Hayden Verbeek and Rasmus Sandin. Nick King, Brad Chenier and Dineen were among those directing shots at Villalta.

Luke Burghardt was sent off for slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct at 7:56 of the second period, and North Bay killed the first penalty before Kopacka ripped a wrister from the top of the left circle past a screened Sime.

Sault Ste. Marie directed 11 shots at Sime, who denied Frost on a rush to the net early in the period, fended off Keegan Howdeshell as he whacked away at a rebound and foiled shots later in the frame by Verbeek, Kopacka, Katchouk, Barrett Hayton and Cole MacKay.

The Battalion capitalized on a two-man advantage at 16:15 of the third period when McKenzie cruised to the net and converted a Burghardt feed to cut the deficit to 2-1. Dineen also earned an assist on McKenzie’s third goal of the season.

Sime headed to the bench for a sixth skater, and Katchouk finished the scoring in the vacant net at 19:07.

The Troops had several good chances earlier in the period among their 13 shots, but Villalta denied Burghardt as he drove to the net and fought off Patrick Brown with a rebound in the deep slot. Adam McMaster had two chances, and Daniel Walker dashed to the net in the 14th minute.

The Battalion plays the last of six consecutive road games when it visits the Guelph Storm at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The game can be seen live on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: The Greyhounds sported special red-based uniforms in recognition of Remembrance Day, with the Battalion wearing its white sweaters and socks on the road for the second time in three games … It was the second of the teams’ four meetings, after the Greyhounds won 2-1 in overtime Sept. 29 at Memorial Gardens. The ’Hounds visit North Bay on Nov. 16 before the season series ends at Sault Ste. Marie on Dec. 8 … The Battalion went 1-for-4 on the power play. The Greyhounds were 1-for-7 … The Battalion is 2-7-0 on the road. Sault Ste. Marie is 8-1-1 at home … Opening lines featured McKenzie centring Burghardt on left wing and right winger Alex Robert, McMaster centring left winger Chenier and right winger Justin Brazeau and Kyle Potts pivoting left winger Luke Moncada and Rhys Forhan on right wing. Brown centred left winger Walker and right winger Andy Baker … The Battalion was without Eric Allair, Travis Mailhot, Kurtis Evans, Brandon Coe and Christian Propp … Katchouk has four-game goals and points streaks during which he has five goals and three assists for eight points. He leads the league with six game-winning goals and is tied with Aaron Luchuk of the Windsor Spitfires for the overall lead with 18 … Villalta is 10-2-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage … The referees were Mike Hamilton and Tom Sweeney.

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