London prevails in overtime
LONDON, Ont. — Robert Thomas scored at 4:27 of overtime to lift the London Knights to a 3-2 comeback victory over the North Bay Battalion in a high-tempo Ontario Hockey League game Saturday night.
Thomas assisted on the other London goals, by Cliff Pu and Alex Formenton, and goaltender Joseph Raaymakers made 21 saves as the Knights improved their won-lost-extended record to 13-12-2 for 28 points, fourth in the Midwest Division.
Brett McKenzie and Kyle Potts scored for North Bay, 9-15-4 for 22 points, which moved into a tie with the Sudbury Wolves for fourth place in the Central Division with a game in hand. Goaltender Christian Propp, seeing his second action with the Battalion, turned in a solid performance while facing 30 shots.
The Troops completed a road trip of three games on consecutive days, having downed the Sarnia Sting 3-2 Friday night after a 5-2 loss Thursday night to the Windsor Spitfires. The crowd of 9,036 at Budweiser Gardens was the largest to see the Battalion play this season.
Thomas netted his team-leading 17th goal of the season when he got the puck back on a crisscross give-and-go rush with Sam Miletic, putting the disc over the sprawling Propp. Each of Miletic and Evan Bouchard earned his second assist on the play.
Formenton tied it 2-2 with a power-play tip at 6:08 of the third period after Luke Burghardt was assessed an inexplicable high-sticking call on a sequence in which McKenzie was drilled headfirst into the boards.
The Battalion went to the power play without effect shortly thereafter, receiving a two-man advantage for 17 seconds after Liam Foudy, in what may have been a makeup call, went off for interference at 7:40 and Formenton was whistled for blindsiding at 9:23.
A would-be London goal at 14:40 was waved off for coming after the play was blown dead, and Miletic hit the right post from close range soon after the ensuing faceoff. Burghardt then was handed an unfathomable tripping penalty while on a rush in the offensive zone at 15:00. Bouchard tied up Justin Brazeau going to the net on the penalty kill, with Brazeau looking askance at referee Josh Schein for the absence of a call.
McKenzie opened the scoring unassisted at 3:34 of the first period. London’s Richard Whittaker fired a blind pass from the boards to Raaymakers’s right, appearing to surprise McKenzie at his good fortune to find himself alone in the mid slot for a one-timer that produced his eighth goal.
Pu replied with his 13th goal on the power play at 9:43, redirecting a pass to the goalmouth from Miletic in the left-wing circle. The goal elicited a torrent of plush toys from the stands on the occasion of the Knights’ Teddy Bear Toss, delaying resumption of play for almost 16 minutes.
Potts collected his fifth goal at 18:03 when he got his stick on a left-point drive by Jesse Saban, with Luke Moncada earning the second assist.
McKenzie set up Brazeau in front in the eighth minute of the second period off a rush, but Brazeau was impeded from getting off a shot. The teams then traded power-play opportunities, with Pu having the best chance when he hit the left post as he darted up the slot with Saban serving a roughing call.
Later in the period, the Troops’ Travis Mailhot took a stretch pass for a breakaway coming out of the penalty box but hit the left post.
The Battalion plays host to the Mississauga Steelheads at 7 p.m. Thursday on The Home Depot night.
BATTALION BULLETS: Propp was acquired Oct. 22 from the Owen Sound Attack and made his Battalion debut Oct. 26, leaving with a lower-body injury after 5:31 of the first period of a 4-0 home-ice victory over Windsor, earning the win and sharing the shutout with Julian Sime. In three games this season with the Barrie Colts, who dealt him to Owen Sound, Propp went 1-1-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage … Sime started the previous five games and nine of the previous 10 for the Troops, relieving Christian Purboo in the other … The Battalion went 0-for-4 on the power play. London was 2-for-5 … Opening lines featured McKenzie centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Adam McMaster pivoting left winger Moncada and right winger Brandon Coe and Potts centring left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Andy Baker. Wingers Patrick Brown and Alex Robert saw various linemates … North Bay, which dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, was without Eric Allair, Rhys Forhan, Daniel Walker and Kurtis Evans … Thomas has eight-game points and assists streaks during which he has two goals and 13 assists for 15 points … The Knights announced that 9,431 plush toys were collected. The Battalion will hold the Hamelin’s Outdoor Power Equipment Teddy Bear Toss next Sunday when Barrie visits Memorial Gardens … Brett Montsion was the other referee.