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Hustling Troops corral Colts

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Justin Brazeau scored two goals and added an assist to power the North Bay Battalion to a dramatic 4-1 victory over the Barrie Colts in an Ontario Hockey League game Thursday night.

Brazeau, named the OHL’s and Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Week for the period ended Sunday after recording nine points, including four goals, in two games last week, leads the league in scoring with 14 goals and as many assists for 28 points.

David Maier had one goal and one assist and Brandon Coe also scored for North Bay, which captured a second straight win and moved its won-lost-extended record to 6-7-0 for 12 points, fifth in the Central Division. Goaltender Christian Purboo, something of a surprise starter, provided 28 saves in a stellar performance before 2,439 at Memorial Gardens.

Matej Pekar scored for Barrie, 7-6-1 for 15 points, fourth in the division. Starting goaltender Kai Edmonds allowed four goals on 17 shots before giving way to Maksim Zhukov, who made seven saves.

“I thought he did a really good job controlling his rebounds,” Battalion assistant coach Adam Dennis said of Purboo. “His first period really set the tone for the rest of our game. He made a couple of nice saves, a couple of nice flurries, and it settled our group down and we were able to get to work after that.”

Pekar opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal at 7:12 of the first period. Pekar stole the puck from Payton Vescio in the neutral zone, broke in alone on Purboo and lifted a backhander high over his glove.

Brazeau replied at 8:53, slipping to the net off the left wing, cruising across the goalmouth and sweeping the puck around Edmonds’s left pad. Matthew Struthers earned the lone assist.

The Troops, who had four power plays in the period, capitalized with the man advantage at 15:36 when Maier directed the puck toward a screened Edmonds from the blue line. Brazeau deftly knocked down the disc and calmly shoveled it home from the goalmouth. Maier and Struthers earned assists on what proved to be the winner.

Purboo, making a second consecutive start for the first time this season, faced 11 shots in the period. He was especially sharp in the 14th minute, making successive saves on Jason Willms and Ben Hawerchuk in close while down in the crease.

Coe made it 3-1 on the power play at 6:05 of the second period. Edmonds stopped Simon Rose’s initial shot but kicked the rebound directly to Coe, who put the puck through a maze of bodies in front of the net for his second goal of the season. Adam McMaster drew the other assist.

Brazeau, Struthers and Cameron Peters missed chances in tight, while Purboo wasn’t severely tested by any of the four shots sent his way.

Maier converted with the man advantage at 3:14 of the third period. Brad Chenier and Brazeau won a puck battle on the end boards, with Brazeau feeding the disc out front to Maier, who beat Edmonds low to the stick side from just inside the blue line. Defenceman Maier’s third goal ended Edmonds’s game.

Purboo faced 14 shots in the period, with his toughest saves coming in the ninth minute with Barrie on the power play as he turned away chances for Hawerchuk, Tyler Tucker and Riley Piercey. Purboo got his glove on a Jaden Peca drive off the left wing in the 14th minute and blocked a Nathan Allensen attempt in close in the 16th.

The Battalion opens a two-game road trip at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Erie Otters. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: On Ontario Northland Employee Appreciation Night, the ceremonial puck drop was performed by Corina Moore, the organization’s president and chief executive officer, Spike the mascot and George Hughes, the Battalion bus driver … In 213 games, Brazeau has 81 goals and 72 assists for 153 points, tied with Lukas Havel for 13th place in franchise history. Brazeau’s 29th power-play goal eclipsed Raffi Torres for fifth place on the franchise list, while the captain’s 11th game-winning goal tied him with Kurt MacSweyn, Tyler Harrison, Sam Carrick and Luke Lynes for 10th in Battalion history … Struthers has six goals and 10 assists for 16 points in his last six games … Opening lines featured Struthers centring left winger Egor Postnov and right winger Brazeau, McMaster centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Luke Moncada pivoting left winger Daniel Walker and Rhys Forhan on right wing. Centre Patrick Brown and left winger Peters had various linemates … The Battalion, which dressed seven defencemen, scratched Pacey Schlueting, Travis Mailhot, Kurtis Evans and Harrison Caines … Evans completed an eight-game suspension for a head check in a 7-5 loss Sept. 30 to the host Oshawa Generals … Walker returned after missing five games to injury, the first of which coincided with a one-game suspension … The Battalion went 3-for-8 on the power play. Barrie was 0-for-3.

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