Troops’ comeback defeats Sudbury
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Adam Thilander’s goal at 14:11 of the third period proved the winner as the North Bay Battalion rallied to a 5-3 victory Thursday night over the Sudbury Wolves, pushing the Troops’ season-high Ontario Hockey League winning streak to six games.
Thilander also had two assists, while Luke Burghardt scored one goal and added an assist, with Justin Brazeau, Andy Baker and Adam McMaster, into an empty net, providing the other goals for North Bay, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 19-19-6 for 44 points, third in the Central Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Goaltender Christian Propp made 26 saves before 2,314 at Memorial Gardens as the Battalion bounced back from a 3-0 first-period deficit.
Blake Murray and Darian Pilon each had one goal and one assist and Alexey Lipanov the other goal for Sudbury, 12-26-6 for 30 points, last in the division and conference. Goaltender Jake McGrath gave up four goals on 49 shots.
“I told the guys they had to be ready to start tonight because these guys were going to come out hard, and obviously we weren’t ready to start and we dug ourselves into a big hole and, thank God, we were able to find a way to get back,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler.
Thilander broke a 3-3 tie off a rush, taking a behind-the-back, backhanded pass from Burghardt and driving into the right-wing circle to beat McGrath with a snap shot. Matthew Struthers also assisted on defenceman Thilander’s fourth goal of the season.
Sudbury went to the power play at 16:28 when Nick King drew a delay-of-game penalty, and Wolves coach Cory Stillman pulled McGrath for a sixth attacker and a two-skater edge with 1:05 left in the man advantage. But Murray took a hooking call at 18:21, and McMaster scored a power-play empty-netter at 19:14, with Thilander and Riley Bruce assisting.
After a bad opening 20 minutes despite a 20-12 shots advantage, the Troops tied it by the end of the second period, with Burghardt igniting the comeback with a blistering drive from the top of the left circle on a partial breakaway at 2:24. Jesse Saban sprang Burghardt from the North Bay blue line for his 21st goal.
Brazeau scored on the power play at 5:01 when he tipped a Braden Henderson blast from the mid blue line past McGrath. Thilander also assisted on Brazeau’s team-leading 29th goal, which earned Henderson his first point in five games since a Jan. 6 trade from the Sarnia Sting.
Baker tied it with the man advantage at 13:19, putting the rebound of a Bruce shot from high on the right wing behind McGrath’s left pad. Brad Chenier drew the other assist on Baker’s ninth goal.
Sudbury jumped out in the opening frame with three goals in a span of 5:08, sparked by Murray at 14:32. He fed the puck to the centre off the right wing and got a return pass at the right edge of the crease from Drake Pilon. Twin brother Darian Pilon also assisted.
Pilon struck at 17:03, one-timing a pass from Murray in the left corner, and Lipanov capitalized at 19:40 after Kirill Nizhnikov and David Levin worked the puck behind the net and sent it out front.
The Battalion visits Sudbury at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: Pepsi Night saw numerous prizes awarded, including a lucky row winning pizza slices and four separate prize draws for a Pepsi camping kit, Pepsi Ultimate Prize Pack and autographed green- and white-based Battalion sweaters. Fans sampled new Lemon Lemon, White Peach and Cucumber Mint sparking lemonade in the concourse … It was the fourth of the teams’ eight season meetings, with the Battalion having won the first three by the score of 6-5, on Sept. 24 at Sudbury, Sept. 27 in overtime at North Bay and Nov. 19 in the Nickel City … Brazeau has 22 career power-play goals, tied with Sam Carrick and Mike Amadio for 10th place in franchise history. Brazeau has a seven-game points streak during which he has five goals and nine assists for 14 points … The Troops’ 50 shots were the most they’ve taken since 51 at Sudbury on Jan. 8, 2016 … McMaster has a goal in each of the last three games … The Battalion was 3-for-5 on the power play. Sudbury went 0-for-3 … North Bay’s Daniel Walker, who suffered a back injury, returned after missing 25 games since a 3-1 road loss Nov. 5 to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds … The Battalion scratched Travis Mailhot, Kurtis Evans and Patrick Brown … Mailhot and teammate Rhys Forhan both turned 18 on Wednesday … Sudbury was without Dawson Baker and Zack Malik … The Wolves’ Peter Stratis marked his 18th birthday Thursday.