NORTH BAY, Ont. — Liam Kirk scored three goals to pace the Peterborough Petes to a 6-5 Ontario Hockey League victory Sunday over the North Bay Battalion that left the Troops’ playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Adam Timleck scored one goal and added three assists, Nick Robertson had one goal and one assist and Cole Fraser scored what proved to be the winning goal into an empty net. Peterborough improved its won-lost-extended record to 32-30-3 for 67 points, third in the East Division and tied with the Mississauga Steelheads for fifth in the Eastern Conference. Goaltender Tye Austin faced 39 shots as the Petes clinched a playoff spot.
Theo Calvas scored two goals and assisted on another, Justin Brazeau had one goal and two assists, Matthew Struthers provided one goal and one assist and Mitchell Russell also scored for North Bay, 27-32-5 for 59 points, fourth in the Central Division and eighth in the conference. Goaltender Christian Propp made 30 saves before a crowd of 2,267.
The Battalion, three points ahead of the Barrie Colts in the battle for the last conference playoff berth, plays host to the division rival Colts at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a game rescheduled from last Thursday night, when Memorial Gardens was closed because of snow and ice on the roof. Each team has four games left in the schedule after Barrie lost 4-3 to the host Niagara IceDogs.
“Our special teams weren’t great today,” said assistant coach Adam Dennis after the Battalion went 0-for-6 on the power play. “We gave up a couple on the penalty kill and couldn’t cash in on our power play. We pushed hard at the end, but our start to the third period was disappointing. In a game with the magnitude that this had, we needed a little more jump to come into the third and we didn’t get it, and we ended up chasing the period after that.”
Brazeau has a franchise-record 55 goals and 47 assists for 102 points in 64 games. He’s the second Battalion player and the first in the North Bay era to register as many as 100 points in a season. Wojtek Wolski had 47 goals and 81 assists for 128 points in 56 games for Brampton in 2005-06.
Timleck broke a 3-3 tie at 2:46 of the third period, burying the rebound of a Christopher Paquette shot. Kirk scored his 25th goal at 5:38, beating Propp low to the glove side with a wrister from the slot.
Calvas pulled the Troops within 5-4 at 6:59. Austin blocked a Brandon Coe drive off the right wing and a followup attempt by Brad Chenier before Calvas put the puck home over the prone Austin. It was defenceman Calvas’s third goal.
Austin, who faced 14 shots in the frame, denied several chances as the Troops pressed to tie. The goaltender blocked a Nick King shot from the blue line, and Mason Primeau drilled the rebound off the right post. Austin, who found Braden Henderson’s left-point shot through traffic, blocked a Calvas drive from the right-wing circle, and Coe missed in close.
Propp was on the bench for a sixth skater when Austin foiled Chenier at the lip of the crease. Defenceman Fraser found the puck and sent it the length of the ice into the empty net at 18:17 as Austin was credited with the lone assist.
Struthers connected at 19:37 on a backhander past Austin’s left pad. Calvas and Brazeau assisted on Struthers’s 29th goal.
Calvas opened the scoring at 5:36 of the first period. Brazeau hustled to negate an icing and eventually fed a pass to Calvas, who blasted the puck between Austin’s pads from above the right circle. Luke Burghardt also assisted.
Kirk replied on the power play at 19:50 when he swept a Timleck pass over Propp’s glove from the right circle. Kirk struck again with the man advantage at 3:41 of the second period. Propp blocked a Timleck shot from the blue line, but the rebound went to Kirk, who shoveled the puck into an open net from the left side.
Austin was turned around in the crease dealing with a charging Burghardt when Brazeau fired the puck past the goaltender off the right wing at 6:02. Struthers and Burghardt earned assists.
Russell put North Bay ahead 3-2 at 17:27 on a solo rush. Using Robertson as a screen, Russell whipped a wrister high over Austin’s glove. Primeau and Patrick Brown drew assists on Russell‘s 13th goal of the season and his eighth since a trade from the Owen Sound Attack.
Robertson tied it at 18:48, cashing the rebound of a Timleck shot off a two-on-one rush against sliding defender Simon Rose.
Among the Battalion’s 16 shots were two breakaway attempts by Brazeau. Penalty killer Zach Gallant seized a turnover in the neutral zone in the 17th minute and broke in alone on Propp, who stopped the initial drive and Gallant’s attempt at the rebound.
BATTALION BULLETS: Special Olympics Day saw the 50th anniversary of the organization saluted. More than a dozen athletes attended the game as Alisha Windsor conducted the ceremonial faceoff with North Bay police chief Shawn Devine, and Chris O’Connor sang O Canada. More than 15 members of law enforcement helped with a fundraiser that generated $3,100 … The teams wrapped up their season series. The Battalion went 1-3-0 against the Petes, winning 7-2 at Peterborough on Jan. 12 … Brazeau has 122 goals and 105 assists for 227 points, one more than Mike Amadio and fourth in franchise history. Brazeau played his 264th game, passing Amadio for sole possession of eighth place in Battalion annals … Struthers has a five-game points streak in which he has three goals and five assists for eight points … Chenier played a 200th game since being chosen in the fourth round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Sudbury Wolves minor midgets. He has 50 goals and 53 assists for 103 career points … Peterborough went 2-for-4 on the power play … The Battalion was without Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker and Kurtis Evans … Walker started serving a two-game suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of a 7-1 road loss Friday night to the Oshawa Generals … Thursday night tickets will be honoured for the rescheduled game Tuesday night.