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Troops counter Attack in OT

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion leaped off the bench to swarm Justin Brazeau on the end boards, and a Memorial Gardens crowd of 2,348 launched into a chant of “Go, Troops, go!”

Brazeau scored on the power play 21 seconds into overtime to give the Battalion a 3-2 comeback victory over the Owen Sound Attack in Ontario Hockey League play Thursday night.

Riley Bruce had one goal and one assist, Matthew Struthers also scored and goaltender Julian Sime contributed 30 saves for North Bay, which trailed 2-0 midway through the third period.

The Battalion, which won a third consecutive game for the first time since the start of the season, improved its won-lost-extended record to 16-19-6 for 38 points, third in the Central Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Peterborough Petes. It was a welcome win after the OHL trade deadline passed at noon Wednesday, the Troops having consummated three deals in the previous seven days.

Jake Henderson, acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Kitchener Rangers, made his Battalion debut. Brett McKenzie and Brady Lyle, dealt to Owen Sound in separate trades this season, made their first returns to the Gateway City, while Struthers, acquired for McKenzie on Jan. 3, faced his former teammates for the first time. The Battalion’s Nick King, acquired from Owen Sound on Oct. 23, played his previous team for the second time.

Lyle scored both Owen Sound goals, while goaltender Mack Guzda faced 17 shots for the Attack, 16-16-7 for 39 points, fourth in the Midwest Division.

“They’re a really good hockey team, and in the first part of the game we really struggled with their speed, and it took us a while to adapt to it,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler.

“When Riley scored the goal, it gave us a little bit of confidence and momentum. Up until that point, they were dominating the game and we weren’t really in it. Julian kept us in it. But once Riley scored, it gave our guys some life, and we went from there.”

With Cade Robinson serving a holdover tripping penalty from the third period, Adam Thilander set up the winner, moving into the left-wing circle and threading a pass to Brazeau, who was at the right side of the crease to jam the puck behind Guzda. Luke Burghardt earned the second assist on Brazeau’s team-leading 28th goal of the season.

North Bay tied it with two goals 52 seconds apart in the third frame, sparked by Bruce at 12:12. He used his condor-like wingspan to wheel the puck home with a wrister from high on the right wing. Brandon Coe and Kyle Potts assisted on defenceman Bruce’s fourth goal.

Struthers, who played 145 games with Owen Sound over two-plus seasons, found the equalizer at 13:04, steering a nifty backhanded pass from Burghardt past Guzda from the left side. Bruce also assisted on Struthers’s 11th goal of the campaign and second with the Troops.

Defenceman Lyle struck first at 2:56 of the opening period when he lofted a wrister from the top of the right circle that eluded Sime, who was screened by Aidan Dudas. Lyle scored his seventh goal and fifth with the Attack at 2:14 of the second period, hammering a pass from Alan Lyszczarczyk past Sime, again screened by Dudas, off the right wing.

The Battalion visits the Barrie Colts at 7:30 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: The teams completed their season series, after Owen Sound won 3-2 at home Oct. 28 … Each of Brazeau and Burghardt has a four-game points streak during which he has four goals and six assists for 10 points … Struthers has two goals and three assists for five points in four games with the Battalion … Potts has two goals and two assists for four points in the last four games … North Bay went 1-for-3 on the power play. Owen Sound was 0-for-3 … Opening lines featured Struthers centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Potts centring left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Coe and Rhys Forhan pivoting Adam McMaster on left wing and right winger Henderson. Luke Moncada centred Patrick Brown on left wing and right winger Andy Baker … North Bay scratched Simon Rose, Daniel Walker and Kurtis Evans … Winger Alex Robert, who cleared OHL waivers and was released by the Battalion this week, has joined the junior A Rockland Nationals of the Central Canada Hockey League … Among Owen Sound’s scratches were Jonah Gadjovich and Jacob Friend, who served the second game of a four-game suspension for a head check in a 7-0 home-ice win Saturday night over Kitchener … McKenzie and Lyle were recognized via video highlights during the first-period promotional break … Guzda, a resident of Knoxville, Tenn., marked his 17th birthday Thursday.

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