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Ottawa slips past Battalion

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Jacob Cascagnette’s power-play goal at 18:49 of the second period stood as the winner as the Ottawa 67’s defeated the North Bay Battalion 4-2 in Ontario Hockey League action Thursday night, vaulting past the Troops into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Sasha Chmelevski scored two goals and Travis Barron provided an empty-netter and an assist for Ottawa, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 28-24-8 for 64 points, fourth in the East Division and one point ahead of the Battalion in the conference. Goaltender Olivier Tremblay made 34 saves before 2,343 at Memorial Gardens.

Adam Thilander had one goal and one assist and Justin Brazeau the other goal for North Bay, 27-25-9 for 63 points, third in the Central Division and seventh in the conference. Goaltender Christian Propp gave up three goals on 27 shots for the Troops, who suffered a third straight loss.

“We had our opportunities to cash in on goals and we just didn’t finish,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler. “We battled back and got two to tie it up, and then we gave a power-play goal up. We even had chances in the third (period). We had a couple of two-on-ones where pucks bounced over the sticks, but you’ve got to make those plays.”

Cascagnette gave Ottawa a 3-2 lead with the man advantage late in the middle period, going to the goalmouth to redirect a Graeme Clarke slap shot from the top of the right-wing circle, and the 67’s fought off every Battalion offensive in the third frame. The Troops outshot the visitors 14-9 in the period, but Barron scored the only goal at 18:39 after Propp left for a sixth skater.

Chmelevski posted the visitors to a 2-0 lead in the second period, opening the scoring at 4:06 when he took a pass from Barron, cruised across the blue line and beat Propp with a shot from the high slot.

Chmelevski connected for his team-leading 33rd goal of the season on the power play at 12:44, converting a pass from behind the net from Mitchell Hoelscher with a quick strike from the right circle.

The Battalion tied it with two goals during a major penalty for a head check on Kurtis Evans issued at 13:23 to Nikita Okhotyuk, who also received a game misconduct.

Thilander took a cross-ice pass from Luke Burghardt to score from deep on the left wing at 13:54. Matthew Struthers also assisted on defenceman Thilander’s ninth goal and his third in the last three games.

Brazeau collected his team-leading 37th goal at 15:35, deftly tipping a Thilander pass from the top of the right circle. Burghardt also assisted on Brazeau’s 24th career power-play goal, which saw him surpass Luch Aquino for sole possession of ninth place in franchise history.

The teams skated through a scoreless, penalty-free first period in which North Bay outshot Ottawa 10-9 and had the better chances.

Struthers, who was partially checked on the way to the net in the second minute, put the puck in front, but Brazeau was unable to get to it. Propp made a solid left-pad save on a Merrick Rippon blast from high on the left wing at the four-minute mark, and Kyle Potts couldn’t convert into the open right side of Tremblay’s net in the 16th minute.

The Battalion visits the Mississauga Steelheads at 7 p.m. Friday. The game can be heard live in North Bay on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: The teams complete their season series at Ottawa on March 18, the last day of the schedule. North Bay is 1-1-1 against the 67’s … Riley Bruce played his 262nd game, tying Chris Rowan for eighth place on the Battalion’s career list … Brazeau has a nine-game points streak, a season high for the Troops, in which he has six goals and eight assists for 14 points … The Battalion went 2-for-6 on the power play. Ottawa was 2-for-3 … Opening lines featured Struthers centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Potts pivoting Andy Baker on left wing and right winger Jake Henderson and Luke Moncada centring left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Brandon Coe. Rhys Forhan centred Patrick Brown on left wing and Evans on right wing … The Battalion scratched Simon Rose, Daniel Walker and Adam McMaster … Walker is out six to eight weeks after surgery on a hand he injured in a fight in a 4-1 road loss Sunday to the Hamilton Bulldogs, and McMaster has an upper-body injury … Among the missing for Ottawa were Kevin Bahl and Shaw Boomhower, serving 10- and 12-game suspensions respectively after each drew a match penalty for a head check, Bahl on Feb. 4 against the visiting Peterborough Petes and Boomhower on Feb. 14 at home against the Kingston Frontenacs … Chmelevski has a six-game points streak in which he has five goals and five assists for 10 points.

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