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Troops secure seventh

MISSISSAUGA , Ont. — Brad Chenier and Brandon Coe each scored two goals and added an assist as the North Bay Battalion downed the Mississauga Steelheads 7-4 in a chippy Ontario Hockey League game Friday night, securing seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Matthew Struthers had one goal and two assists and Luke Burghardt and Luke Moncada scored a goal apiece for North Bay, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 30-32-5 for 65 points, fourth in the Central Division. Goaltender Christian Purboo made 34 saves before an announced crowd of 2,695 at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.

The Battalion moved out of a tie with the East Division’s Hamilton Bulldogs, who ended their schedule with an 8-4 road loss to the Sudbury Wolves, and will face either the Niagara IceDogs or Sudbury in a best-of-seven conference quarterfinal starting next week.

Adam Varga had two goals and one assist and each of Thomas Harley and Keean Washkurak provided one goal and two assists for Mississauga, 31-29-7 for 69 points, third in the Central. The Steelheads slipped to sixth in the conference when the Peterborough Petes defeated the host Ottawa 67’s 3-2 in overtime.

Starting goaltender Jacob Ingham surrendered five goals on 20 shots before being relieved for the third period by Joe Ranger, who gave up two goals on eight shots in a game in which the Steelheads scored the last three goals on the power play to make the score more flattering.

The Battalion’s Justin Brazeau, who earned three assists, has 60 goals and 50 assists for 110 points in 67 games. He leads the league in goals and is tied with Niagara’s Jason Robertson atop the scoring race.

The Troops, leading 5-1 after two periods, extended their lead when Struthers circled the net and knocked home a puck lying behind the prone Ranger at 3:28 of the final period. Brazeau and Chenier assisted on Struthers’s 30th goal of the season.

Coe connected 12 seconds later, driving to the net off the left wing and, without releasing a shot, steering the puck on the backhand between Ranger’s legs. The unassisted goal, his second of the game, was Coe’s 17th of the season.

A fracas at 7:33 saw Coe assessed slashing and roughing minors, Patrick Brown a checking-from-behind call and Harrison Caines a roughing penalty while Mississauga’s Aidan Prueter and Callan Christner each received a roughing minor, all of which gave the Steelheads a two-man advantage scheduled for two minutes.

Varga cashed a rebound 25 seconds into the double advantage, and Washkurak one-timed the puck past Purboo nine seconds after that to convert the other half of the largesse, pulling Mississauga within 7-3. Varga snapped home his sixth goal at 17:09 to complete the scoring with Chenier off for a blindside hit on Washkurak.

After the teams battled to a 1-1 tie through 20 minutes, Chenier scored at 5:35 of the second period, cashing a pass from Brazeau on a three-on-one power-play rush. Struthers also assisted.

Coe scored with the man advantage at 15:13, stalking the net from the left wing and wiring a shot off the crossbar and down at the left corner of the net, and Moncada connected at 18:12, deftly converting a pass from the end boards from Caines, with Coe drawing the second assist.

Chenier collected his 29th goal at 19:22, getting the last touch on what appeared to be a scoring play by Brazeau, who broke in alone past Ryan Barbosa and went from his forehand to his backhand to shovel the puck behind Ingham.

Harley struck first with a fluky power-play goal at 8:49 of the opening period, 21 seconds after Nick King was sent off for a weak tripping call. Defenceman Harley fired the puck wide right of the net, but it rebounded off the end boards and appeared to strike Purboo’s left leg for a redirection into the goal.

Burghardt replied with the man advantage at 14:24, slipping across the top of the zone and snapping the puck through a screen, with Brazeau on the doorstep to provide the biggest obstacle to Ingham’s sight lines. It was Burghardt’s ninth goal.

Burghardt was assessed a match penalty for slew-footing at 15:49, putting the Troops a man short for the rest of the period and the start of the second. He also faces supplemental discipline.

The Battalion plays host to Niagara at 2 p.m. Sunday, the last day of the regular season, on Enercare Fan Appreciation Day.

BATTALION BULLETS: North Bay went 3-2-1 in the teams’ season series. The Battalion has an all-time won-lost-tied record against the Steelheads franchise, dating to its days as the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors, of 71-48-3 … The Troops, who have won their last three games, posted a won-lost-extended record of 13-20-1 on the road this season … In 267 career games, Brazeau has 108 assists, one more than Howie Martin and eighth in franchise history. Brazeau has a five-game points streak in which he has seven goals and five assists for 12 points. In six games against Mississauga, Brazeau had five goals and eight assists for 13 points … Brazeau is the third player to score as many as 60 goals for the Gateway of the North in an OHL season, the others being the North Bay Centennials’ Nick Kypreos, with 62 goals in 1985-86, and Vitali Yachmenev, with 61 in 1993-94 … In five games against Mississauga, Struthers had four goals and six assists for 10 points … North Bay went 3-for-5 on the power play. Mississauga was 4-for-6 … The Steelheads outshot the Troops 15-5 in the first period. North Bay essentially reversed the count in the second, forging a 15-6 edge … The Battalion was without Pacey Schlueting, Travis Mailhot and Kurtis Evans … Among the missing for Mississauga were Nick McHugh, Cole Carter and Liam Ham … The referees were Scott Ferguson and Ryan Harrison.

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