Road warriors end with win
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Justin Brazeau scored at 3:12 of overtime to lift the North Bay Battalion to a 3-2 victory Sunday over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds as the Troops earned a second win in completing a three-game Ontario Hockey League road trip.
Brad Chenier and Adam McMaster also scored and goaltender Christian Purboo made 32 saves for North Bay, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 4-6-0 for eight points, fifth in the Central Division.
The Battalion, which played a third game in three days, won 5-3 Friday night over the Flint Firebirds and lost 6-2 Saturday night to the Saginaw Spirit. The road wins were the team’s first of the season.
Ryan Roth and Barrett Hayton scored for Sault Ste. Marie, 5-3-2 for 12 points, second in the West Division, one point behind Saginaw. Goaltender Ethan Taylor faced 26 shots before 3,588 at GFL Memorial Gardens.
“We worked hard,” said Battalion assistant coach Scott Wray. “We showed that we can play with anybody in the league when we have a good work ethic.
“Purboo was outstanding. He made great saves in overtime against (Cole) MacKay even after losing his glove.”
The overtime period, the first the Troops have played, was uneventful until the two-minute mark, when Purboo made three stellar stops in close on MacKay, who had chances at several rebounds.
Brazeau then charged to the net off the right wing and lifted a backhander that Taylor parried into the corner but, a few seconds later, Brazeau again moved off the wing, went around Jordan Sambrook and lofted a backhander to the stick side. Theo Calvas had the lone assist on Brazeau’s team-leading eighth goal of the season.
The Troops trailed 2-1 in the third period before McMaster tied it at 4:25, roaring down the left wing on a two-on-one rush with Brazeau and beating Taylor low to the stick side. The unassisted goal was McMaster’s fifth.
The Greyhounds failed to generate a scoring chance on the power play after Calvas was sent off for crosschecking at 11:40, and Mac Hollowell rang the puck off the left post in the 16th minute.
Hayton broke a 1-1 tie at 6:07 of the second period. Keegan Howdeshell forced Braden Henderson to turn over the puck deep in Battalion territory and, after getting off a shot that missed, Hayton tucked the rebound inside the left post.
Brazeau had two fine chances in the frame. Taylor turned him away in close in the seventh minute and, in the 15th, Brazeau stole the puck from Hayton and tested Taylor from the lip of the crease. The goaltender flopped on the puck before Egor Postnov could get to it.
Roth opened the scoring at 10:34 of the first period as he picked up a loose puck, raced into Battalion territory, eluded Henderson, who had stumbled, and beat Purboo with a wrister to the stick side. Rory Kerins and Hollowell drew assists.
The Battalion, which spent much of the first half of the period hemmed in its own end, replied at 16:00. Brandon Coe wheeled behind the net and fed a backhanded pass in front to Chenier, who converted for his third goal. It was the Troops’ first in two games against the Greyhounds.
The Battalion plays host to the Mississauga Steelheads at 7 p.m. Thursday in the annual Pink in the Rink game.
BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion made its second and last visit of the season to Sault Ste. Marie, where the Greyhounds won 6-0 on Sept. 29. Sault Ste. Marie visits North Bay on Jan. 17 and Feb. 14 … The Troops bused to Sault Ste. Marie immediately after the game at Saginaw, arriving at 2 a.m. … In 210 games, Brazeau has 75 goals and 66 assists for 141 points, eclipsing Nick Paul for sole possession of 19th place in franchise history … Opening lines saw McMaster centring left winger Postnov and right winger Brazeau, Kyle Jackson pivoting left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Luke Moncada centring left winger Harrison Caines and Rhys Forhan on right wing. Centre Patrick Brown and Pacey Schlueting, a defenceman, at left wing had various linemates … The Battalion, which dressed 11 at forward and seven defencemen, was without Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker, Kurtis Evans, Matthew Struthers and Cameron Peters … North Bay went 0-for-2 on the power play. Sault Ste. Marie was 0-for-5 … Wray and fellow assistant Adam Dennis ran the Battalion bench, with coach Stan Butler on medical leave … Hayton has three goals and three assists for six points in three games since returning from the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes … Hollowell has two goals and three assists for five points in the last five games … Howdeshell has two goals and two assists for four points in the last three games.