Troops’ rally trumps Trout
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion provided a happy birthday for Stan Butler.
Butler, the Ontario Hockey League club’s director of hockey operations and head coach, marked his 62nd birthday by watching his charges overcome a three-goal first-period deficit to defeat the Mississauga Steelheads 5-3 Friday night.
Matthew Struthers scored two goals and Jake Henderson, Luke Burghardt and Brandon Coe each had one for North Bay, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 23-21-6 for 52 points, third in the Central Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. Goaltender Christian Propp made 33 saves for the Troops, who are 10-2-0 in their last 12 games.
Cole Carter scored two goals and Ryan McLeod had one for Mississauga, 23-25-1 for 47 points, fourth in the division and eighth in the conference, one point behind the Ottawa 67’s, who downed the visiting Niagara IceDogs 6-5. The Steelheads had won five straight games since a 6-2 loss Jan. 17 at Ottawa. Goaltender Jacob Ingham faced 36 shots before an announced crowd of 1,876 at the Hershey Centre.
McLeod opened the scoring at 5:51 of the first period, ripping a Cole Schwindt pass high over Propp’s glove from the edge of the left-wing circle. Carter connected at 10:03, finishing a two-on-one rush with Michael McLeod, and Albert Michnac eluded Adam Thilander and Rhys Forhan on the way to the net, dishing the puck across the goalmouth to Carter, who fired it home at 13:59 for his 14th goal of the season.
After Brad Chenier decisioned Mississauga’s Ian McKinnon in a fight at 15:01, the Troops struck for two goals 40 seconds apart, sparked by Henderson, who shoveled home the rebound of a Kyle Potts shot at 18:30. Adam McMaster also assisted on Henderson’s eighth goal, his second with North Bay since a Jan. 9 trade from the Kitchener Rangers.
The teams were skating four-on-four when Struthers scored at 19:10, racing into Mississauga territory off a faceoff and driving to the net to cap a two-on-one rush with Justin Brazeau.
Burghardt tied it at 7:03 of the second period. McLeod turned over the puck, and Burghardt capitalized for his 23rd goal, wiring a shot over Ingham’s glove from the right circle.
Propp was outstanding in the period as he faced 20 shots, stoning Mathieu Foget on a breakaway in the first minute and making back-to-back saves on an Owen Tippett shot off the right wing and Foget’s attempt at the rebound. Propp denied a Carter chance off the right wing, foiled McLeod in the deep slot and turned away Tippett on a drive from the left wing. Mississauga’s Trent Fox and Nicolas Hague each rang the puck off iron.
Coe collected the winning goal at 4:43 of the third period, banging home his own rebound. Assists on rookie Coe’s seventh goal went to Nick King and Potts.
Struthers provided an insurance tally at 9:38. Brazeau, on a dash down the right wing behind the net, banked the puck off the end boards to Struthers, alone at the right post for the conversion. Riley Bruce had the second assist on Struthers’s 14th goal of the campaign and his fifth since a Jan. 3 trade from the Owen Sound Attack.
Ingham left for a sixth skater with 2:30 to play, but Mississauga’s only chance was a Tippett drive from the top of the right circle.
The Battalion plays host to the Guelph Storm at 2 p.m. Sunday.
BATTALION BULLETS: It was the fourth of six games between the teams. The Battalion is 3-1-0 against Mississauga, with the fifth meeting scheduled Feb. 18 at Memorial Gardens … Coe has a six-game points streak in which he has three goals and three assists for six points … Brazeau celebrated his 20th birthday … The Battalion was 0-for-5 on the power play. Mississauga went 0-for-4 … North Bay defenceman Travis Mailhot, who turned 18 on Jan. 17, has been named the Central Division academic player for January. The resident of Caledon East, Ont., has an 86-percent average in Grade 12 university-level law, international business and co-op courses at Chippewa Secondary School. “Travis is a very conscientious student who’s a hard worker and good role model in class,” noted club academic advisor Colleen Point … Opening lines included Struthers centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Potts centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Forhan pivoting left winger McMaster and right winger Henderson. Luke Moncada centred left winger Daniel Walker and right winger Andy Baker … The Battalion was without Simon Rose, Kurtis Evans and Patrick Brown … Foget saw the end of an 11-game points streak, in which he had three goals and 13 assists for 16 points since being acquired Jan. 1 from Ottawa … The referees were Joe Celestin and Josh Schein.