IceDogs edge Battalion 4-3

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Matthew Philip scored two goals, including the winner, as the Niagara IceDogs defeated the North Bay Battalion 4-3 Sunday, snapping a seven-game Ontario Hockey League losing streak.

Johnny Corneil and Ben Jones scored a goal apiece for Niagara, which got 30 saves from goaltender Stephen Dhillon. The IceDogs, who lost 6-1 Saturday night to the host Barrie Colts, have a won-lost-extended record of 8-6-4 for 20 points, second in the Central Division. Their previous win was a 6-3 home-ice verdict Oct. 19 over the Mississauga Steelheads.

Riley Bruce, Brett McKenzie and Brad Chenier scored for North Bay, 6-12-2 for 14 points, fifth in the division. Goaltender Julian Sime faced 30 shots before 2,823 at Memorial Gardens who saw the Battalion wear special ‘Canada 150’ sweaters, featuring the CF-18 demonstration jet, on Military Appreciation Day.

“Obviously, we didn’t get off to a good start, and any time you dig a hole like we did, three goals like that, it’s tough to come back,” said coach Stan Butler, whose Troops have lost four straight games and played at home for the first time in seven. “I mean I do give the kids credit: They battled their way back, and we had chances to probably close the gap.”

The Battalion, which trailed 4-2 after 40 minutes, pulled within a goal at 14:39 of the third period when Chenier took a short pass from Patrick Brown and ripped the puck past Dhillon from the top of the left-wing circle off a rush. Cam Dineen also assisted as Chenier collected his third goal of the season.

Kirill Maksimov broke in alone on Sime in the 17th minute, hitting the right post, before the Battalion went on the power play at 16:48 when Akil Thomas was called for high-sticking. The Troops, who applied pressure but failed to score, pulled Sime for a sixth attacker with 1:04 to play, with Dineen almost connecting on a screened drive from the left point in the final seconds.

Niagara jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead, with Corneil opening the scoring at 2:44. Thomas kept a clearing attempt inside the Battalion blue line, knocking the puck to Corneil, alone behind defenders, for a forehand deke.

Jones tipped a screened Liam Ham drive from the blue line on the power play at 6:42 for a team-leading 10th goal, and Philip deflected a right-point lob by Zach Shankar at 12:20. Overager Shankar, who was traded Aug. 24 for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, faced his former Battalion teammates for the first time.

Bruce replied on the power play at 18:07 off a faceoff to Dhillon’s left. Adam McMaster got the puck back to the right point, from where defenceman Bruce blasted his third goal. The sprawling Dhillon then robbed Luke Burghardt with the glove on a close-range backhander off a McKenzie rebound with a minute left in the frame.

McKenzie scored his fifth goal with the man advantage at 8:19 of the second period. Adam Thilander drilled the puck from the blue line and, after Burghardt was denied, he backhanded the disc to McKenzie at the goalmouth for the conversion. McKenzie has scored in each of the last three games.

Philip struck at 12:27 for what proved to be the winning goal, one-timing a pass from Maksimov, who had two assists, from the mid slot. It was Philip’s fifth goal.

The Battalion plays host to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 7 p.m. Thursday on GoodLife Fitness Night.

BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion sweaters were sold in a silent auction, raising $8,700 for the Military Family Resource Centre at Canadian Forces Base North Bay … In 278 career games, McKenzie has 84 goals, tied with Sam Carrick for ninth place on the franchise list, and 99 assists for 183 points, tying Jeff Bateman for eighth in Battalion history … The Battalion has an all-time won-lost-tied record of 67-53-5 against the IceDogs franchise, which iced an expansion club in Mississauga in 1998-99, debuting simultaneously with the Troops in Brampton. The Battalion hasn’t had a losing season against Niagara since 2011-12 … North Bay went 2-for-7 on the power play. Niagara was 1-for-5 … Opening line combinations had McKenzie centring Burghardt on left wing and right winger Brown, McMaster pivoting left winger Luke Moncada and Rhys Forhan on right wing and Kyle Potts centring left winger Chenier and right winger Justin Brazeau. Kurtis Evans centred Alex Robert on left wing and right winger Andy Baker … The Battalion was without Eric Allair, Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker, Brandon Coe and Christian Propp … Coe earned a silver medal with Canada Red in a 6-4 loss Saturday night to the United States in the title game of the eight-team World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at Dawson Creek, B.C. In five games, Coe had one goal and three assists for four points. He was due back in North Bay on Sunday night.

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