Troops break Spirit in OT
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Adam McMaster scored two goals, including the winner 23 seconds into overtime, to give the North Bay Battalion a 4-3 comeback victory over the Saginaw Spirit in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday.
Adam Thilander contributed one goal and one assist and Brad Chenier also scored for North Bay, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 20-20-6 for 46 points, third in the Central Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Goaltender Julian Sime faced 28 shots before a crowd of 2,348 as the Battalion overcame a pair of one-goal deficits.
Jake Goldowski and Max Grondin each had one goal and one assist for the Spirit, which got its other goal from Danny Katic. Goaltender Evan Cormier made 29 saves. Saginaw, the onetime North Bay Centennials franchise, is 23-17-4 for 50 points, tied for third place in the West Division and fifth place in the Western Conference with the Windsor Spitfires, who blanked the visiting Flint Firebirds 1-0.
“It was a really entertaining game for the fans,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler. “One thing about the Saginaw team is they work really hard. It was very close, and we’re starting to win games that earlier in the year the other team was winning. We worked really hard over the last half of the game, but there were times before that where they were dictating the work ethic. Hopefully, we’re learning that you have to work hard from the drop of the puck.”
The teams traded chances over the first half of the third period before Grondin received credit for breaking a 2-2 tie at 9:53. Goldowski directed a shot toward the net from a sharp angle to Sime’s left, and the puck hit the right post and caromed off the goaltender before entering the net.
Thilander replied on the power play at 11:40, burying a Luke Burghardt pass while stationed deep in the left-wing circle. Justin Brazeau earned the other assist on defenceman Thilander’s fifth goal of the season.
The Troops had several chances in the rest of the period, but Saginaw enjoyed the best scoring opportunity when Sime denied D.J. Busdeker on a breakaway in the 14th minute.
McMaster collected the winner and his eighth goal when he darted to the net off the right side and backhanded a Thilander pass high over Cormier’s glove.
Katic opened the scoring at 16:03 of the first period when he tamed a bouncing puck at the Battalion blue line, moved into the right circle and snapped a wrister that beat Sime low to the glove side.
The Troops held an 11-9 edge in shots and threatened on several occasions. Penalty killer Brazeau was thwarted on a breakaway by Cormier in the eighth minute, not long after shooting wide of the left post from close range. Cormier foiled Matthew Struthers as he rushed to the net in the 12th minute, and the goaltender found a Thilander point shot through a maze of bodies in the 17th.
Brandon Coe set up North Bay’s first goal, at 9:02 of the second period, when he raced down the right wing and sent the puck to the front of the net, where Chenier steered it home for his 12th goal.
The Troops took a 2-1 lead at 15:41 after Cormier and Reilly Webb combined to turn over the puck deep in their own territory. Jake Henderson grabbed it and fed McMaster for a scoring shot from the left circle, but Goldowski tied it at 17:58, converting a loose puck at the lip of the crease.
Saginaw outshot the Battalion 12-6 in the period, with most of its shots coming in the middle of the frame when the Battalion was whistled for three minors in a span of 2:10. Sime made three good saves against the Spirit’s first power play before Riley Bruce went off for high-sticking and North Bay was assessed a bench minor at 12:21, putting the Troops two men short for a full two minutes. Jesse Saban sacrificed himself to block a shot, and Goldowski rang the puck off the left post.
The Battalion visits the Ottawa 67’s at 7 p.m. Friday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: The teams completed their season series after Saginaw won 6-1 at home Nov. 4. In 40 all-time games against the Centennials and Spirit, the fewest against any opponent, the Battalion has a won-lost-tied record of 19-20-1 … Chenier has a four-game points streak during which he has two goals and two assists for four points. He scored the Battalion goal in a 2-1 loss Saturday night to the host Sudbury Wolves that ended a six-game winning streak … The Battalion went 1-for-5 on the power play. Saginaw was 0-for-4 … Opening line combinations included Struthers centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Kyle Potts skating between left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Rhys Forhan centring left winger McMaster and right winger Henderson. Luke Moncada centred left winger Daniel Walker and right winger Andy Baker … The Battalion scratched Travis Mailhot, Kurtis Evans and Patrick Brown … Among the missing for Saginaw, which dressed 17 skaters, one below the limit, were Brady Gilmour and Brock Hill … Overager Cormier is a former member of the Battalion … Saginaw has five Northern Ontario products on the roster, in forwards Grondin of Hearst, Katic of South Porcupine, Nicholas Porco of Sault Ste. Marie and Damien Giroux of Hanmer as well as goaltender Cameron Lamour of Naughton … The referees were Stacy Jackson and Aaron Neely.