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BRAMPTON, Ont. – Goaltender Charlie Graham made 30 saves for his first Ontario Hockey League shutout, backstopping the Belleville Bulls to a 2-0 victory Friday night over the Brampton Battalion.
Aaron Berisha and Sergey Kuptsov scored for Belleville, which defeated the Battalion for the second time in three days. The Bulls downed the Troops 2-1 via shootout Wednesday night at home and now have a won-lost-extended record of 5-2-1 for 11 points, second in the East Division.
Goaltender Matej Machovsky made 31 saves for the Battalion, which suffered a fourth consecutive loss and is 2-4-3 for seven points and fifth place in the Central Division. The Troops’ last win was a 4-1 verdict over the visiting Kingston Frontenacs on Oct. 4.
“It was a disappointing game,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler. “We had a couple of mental lapses that really cost us tonight.”
Added Barclay Goodrow: “We got out-battled and outworked. They wanted it more than us tonight, and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Berisha opened the scoring at 17:33 of the first period. Cameron Wind turned over the puck behind the Battalion goal to Scott Simmonds, who spotted the open Berisha in front of the net. His one-timer beat Machovsky to the blocker side.
“We made two mental mistakes on that first goal,” said Butler. “It was a bang-bang play after Wind lost the puck.”
The Battalion had the only power play of the period after Brendan Gaunce went off for hooking at 11:30. The Troops were unable to solve Graham, seeing his first action of the season.
“We’re not getting the goals that we need to get out there,” said Goodrow. “We need to make things more difficult for the other goalies and make it so they can’t see the puck.”
Nick Paul had the Battalion’s best scoring chance of the opening frame. After some valiant work on the right-wing boards, Goodrow found Paul at the left side of the net, but Graham made it across in time to stop the shot and subsequent rebound.
Niki Petti threatened for the Bulls in the seventh minute after taking a pass from Kuptsov but was denied by Machovsky.
“It seemed like some of us were scared out there tonight,” said Marcus McIvor, who returned to the Battalion blue line for the first time since Sept. 23. “We have to do our jobs out there.”
Kuptsov connected on the power play at 19:24 of the second period with Nicholas Foglia serving a tripping penalty. Kuptsov converted a nifty cross-goalmouth pass from Joseph Cramarossa into the top right corner.
The Troops were awarded their second power play at 1:20 when Brady Austin went off for interference. Graham made a solid glove save on a Dylan Blujus slap shot.
“Graham played a great game out there,” said McIvor. “We just didn’t have the confidence tonight to test him more.”
Goodrow had several chances in the second period. He was set up in front by Patrik Machac but couldn’t jam the puck past Graham and also was foiled on a two-on-one rush with Blake Clarke.
The Bulls got their second power play in the third period when Foglia was whistled for high-sticking at 5:34. The Troops killed the penalty but were unable to generate chances despite outshooting Belleville 11-8 in the period.
The Battalion scratched Mark Raycroft and Mathew Santos. Belleville scratches were Alex Carnevale, Chad Heffernan and Daniel De Sousa.
The Battalion hosts the Saginaw Spirit at 2 p.m. Sunday.
BATTALION NOTEBOOK: Attendance was 1,852 … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Belleville was 1-for-2 … Opening Battalion line combinations included Machac centring left winger Paul and right winger Goodrow, Jamie Lewis pivoting left winger Brandon Robinson and right winger Matt MacLeod and Foglia centring left winger Derek Froats and right winger Brendan Childerley. Connor Jarvis centred left winger Clarke and right winger Mike Amadio … Blujus and Garrett Hooey went off for roughing after a scuffle at 9:52 of the second period. The two dropped the gloves to fight but were quickly separated by the officials … MacLeod returned to action after missing five games with a high-ankle sprain. He suffered the injury Sept. 28, when the Battalion downed the visiting Bulls 1-0 … The game marked the first time the Troops were shut out since Jan. 29, when they were blanked 3-0 by the visiting Niagara IceDogs … Defenceman Wind played his 235th game with the Battalion, tying Jay McClement and Howie Martin for 10th place on the club’s career list … The Bulls traded right winger Mack Lemmon to Niagara on Friday for a third-round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, trimming the Belleville roster to 23 … The Toronto Argonauts Sunshine Cheerleaders Alumnae were on hand to sell pink ribbons in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Director Donna Soltes and Darlene Stirling, Miss Grey Cup 1981, conducted a ceremonial faceoff with captains Goodrow and Gaunce before watching the third period from Battalion owner Scott Abbott’s box … The Battalion and Bulls complete their four-game season series Feb. 27 at Belleville … The referees were Korey Bannerman and T.J. Foster.