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Hamilton prevails 5-2 late

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Matthew Strome, Marian Studenic and Benjamin Gleason each scored one goal and added an assist to lead the Hamilton Bulldogs to a 5-2 decision Thursday night that left the North Bay Battalion wondering what might have been.

MacKenzie Entwistle and Arthur Kaliyev scored a goal apiece for Hamilton, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 19-7-6 for 44 points atop the Ontario Hockey League’s East Division and Eastern Conference. Goaltender Nick Donofrio made 24 saves as the Bulldogs won a third straight game.

Cam Dineen and Riley Bruce scored for North Bay, which trailed 3-1 after the first period but pulled within a goal on Bruce’s third-period tally before a match penalty for slew-footing to Brad Chenier led to the last two Hamilton goals. Goaltender Christian Propp faced 36 shots, including 12 in the final frame, when the Troops managed just four before a crowd of 2,225.

The Battalion, which opens a two-game road trip Friday night, is 11-17-4 for 26 points, third in the Central Division.

“The ice was a little slanted when it came to penalties, that’s for sure,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler.

“There’s no doubt they’ve got an outstanding power play, and they really move the puck around well. They’ve got a lot of skilled players. They’ve got what a lot of teams don’t have in this league, which is two good units so, obviously, when they got the opportunities tonight — I think it was nine by the end — you’re not going to have much of a chance to win.”

After good work on the end boards by Luke Moncada and Kyle Potts, defenceman Bruce lobbed the puck from the right point past Donofrio at 8:36. Riding the momentum, the Battalion had several good chances to tie it before referees Joe Celestin and Ryan Harrison conferred at centre ice and assessed Chenier the slew-footing call for a tumble with Strome at 12:56.

Gleason scored on a snap shot from the high slot through a screen at 13:28, and Kaliyev connected from the inner edge of the right-wing circle 40 seconds later.

Adam Thilander fired the puck from the crease into the stands for a delay-of-game call at 18:07, and eight seconds later Bruce was penalized for a blindside hit on Nicholas Caamano that many in the crowd believed to be well deserved for his chippy play, putting the Troops two men short for the rest of the game.

Entwistle opened the scoring at 9:09 of the first period, stopping at the right faceoff dot and, using Bruce as a partial screen, beating Propp with a low wrister before the teams combined for three goals in a span of 1:52.

Strome connected on the power play, redirecting a Gleason right-point shot at 15:50, and Dineen replied at 17:06. Brandon Coe fed the puck from the right circle to the goalmouth, where Potts and defenceman Dineen jammed at it, the latter putting it past Donofrio for a ninth goal on the season.

Studenic struck 36 seconds later, deking to the crease and diving to stuff the puck behind Propp with Connor Walters and Caamano assisting.

Caamano went off for checking from behind on Justin Brazeau 27 seconds into the second period, but the Troops failed to mount a serious assault on their first power play.

Propp made a solid save against Will Bitten from the mid slot in the sixth minute before denying Studenic in the slot with Hamilton on the power play after Luke Burghardt was called for high-sticking at 9:39. The teams then each had a man advantage before the end of the frame.

The Battalion visits the Niagara IceDogs at 7 p.m. Friday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: On Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Night, the first 1,000 fans to arrive received a car air freshener, and a similar number of smartphone wallets were available in the main concourse. The winner of a car assembly contest earned a 12-volt vehicle booster pack from the presenting sponsor … It was the second of four meetings, after the visiting Bulldogs won 4-3 on Oct. 15. The next game is at Hamilton on Jan. 5 … Brazeau, named the OHL’s Player of the Week for the period ended Sunday, was held without a point for the first time in four games … Dineen has a four-game points streak in which he has two goals and three assists for five points … Unless Chenier’s match penalty is rescinded, he faces a two-game suspension … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Hamilton was 3-for-9 … The Battalion scratched Eric Allair, Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan and Daniel Walker … Hamilton acquired Caamano and Ryan Moore from the Flint Firebirds in a Nov. 25 trade for Connor Roberts and three OHL Priority Selection picks, in a second-rounder in 2019 and third-rounders in 2019 and 2020 … Caamano has a six-game points streak in which he has three goals and four assists for seven points … Hamilton’s Navrin Mutter is serving an eight-game suspension for a head check in a 6-3 home-ice loss Dec. 6 to the Guelph Storm that elicited no penalty. He’s eligible to return Jan. 3.

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