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Niagara falls to Battalion

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Kyle Potts scored one goal and earned an assist and Luke Burghardt provided three assists, powering the North Bay Battalion to a 6-3 victory over the Niagara IceDogs in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night.

North Bay, which struck three times on the power play against Niagara’s penalty-killing unit, ranked third in the league, also got goals from Patrick Brown, Justin Brazeau, Cam Dineen, Nick King and Kurtis Evans. Goaltender Julian Sime faced 35 shots as the Battalion, which opened a two-game road trip, improved its won-lost-extended record to 12-17-4 for 28 points, third in the Central Division.

Johnny Corneil, Kirill Maksimov and Ben Jones each had one goal and one assist for Niagara before 4,814. Starting goaltender Stephen Dhillon allowed five goals on 25 shots before giving way to Colton Incze, who gave up one goal on 10 shots. The IceDogs, who lost for the first time in four games, are 16-10-5 for 37 points, second in the division.

“We played really well; the boys were flying,” said rookie Evans, who scored his first OHL goal. “We had a lot of good chances and we capitalized on them.”

The teams traded goals in the first period, with the Troops capitalizing on a turnover by Elijah Roberts as Brown fired the puck off Dhillon’s right arm into the net at 7:28. Brandon Coe had the only assist on Brown’s second goal of the season.

Niagara tied it at 12:00 when Corneil’s low shot from the top of the right-wing circle eluded the screened Sime. The goal brought a torrent of plush toys from the stands, necessitating an 11-minute delay as the ice was cleared. The IceDogs wore red sweaters and socks for the Teddy Bear Toss occasion, putting the Troops in white.

Potts restored the Battalion’s lead on the power play at 1:46 of the second period, taking advantage of a stellar effort by Burghardt, who took the puck from behind his own net down the right wing, circled the Niagara zone and, after cruising across the blue line, fired from above the right circle. Brett McKenzie got a touch, and Potts cashed his sixth goal.

With North Bay on another power play, Dhillon went behind the goal line to play the puck, with his attempted long pass intercepted by Brazeau high in the zone. He moved in to beat the unsettled Dhillon with a wrister from the inner edge of the right circle for a team-leading 24th goal at 12:01.

Maksimov got the IceDogs within 3-2 at 18:19, burying Jones’s pass across the goalmouth at the right post, but the Battalion struck for three goals inside six minutes of the third period to pull away.

Dineen struck on the power play at 48 seconds when he snapped the puck from the top of the left circle over the glove of Dhillon, who was screened by Brazeau. Adam Thilander and Burghardt assisted on defenceman Dineen’s 10th goal.

King ended Dhillon’s night at 1:31, beating him high to the glove side with a wrister off the left wing. Potts and Coe earned assists on defenceman King’s third goal. His second assist marked rookie Coe’s first multi-point OHL game.

Evans made it 6-2 at 5:39 when he converted a patient Burghardt feed on a three-on-one rush at the left post, and Jones one-timed a Maksimov pass from behind the goal line at 15:42.

The Battalion completes the road trip with its last game before the OHL’s Christmas break, a visit to the Erie Otters at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game can be heard live in North Bay on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: Earlier Friday at the Meridian Centre, Canada defeated Denmark 5-2 in a pre-tournament game leading to the World Junior Championship to be held at Buffalo, N.Y., starting Dec. 26 … It was the Battalion’s first win in three games against Niagara, which won 4-3 at North Bay on Nov. 12 and 6-1 at St. Catharines on Nov. 17. The next meeting is at Memorial Gardens on Dec. 28 … McKenzie played his 291st game, tying Cameron Wind and Matt McLeod for third place on the Battalion’s career list … Dineen has a five-game points streak in which he has three goals and three assists for six points … Zach Shankar, traded by the Troops to Niagara on Aug. 24, leveled Coe without a penalty as the IceDogs killed an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Oliver Castleman at 17:34 of the final period. Shankar charged Coe, elbowing him in the head in a clear attempt to injure … North Bay was 3-for-4 on the power play. Niagara went 0-for-3 … The Battalion’s Brad Chenier started serving a two-game suspension for a slew-footing match penalty late in a 5-2 home-ice loss Thursday night to the Hamilton Bulldogs … Apart from Chenier, the Troops were without Eric Allair, Rhys Forhan and Daniel Walker … Jones has a four-game points streak during which he has one goal and four assists for five points … Corneil has three goals and three assists for six points in three games against North Bay.

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