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Troops storm back for late 5-4 victory

BRAMPTON, Ont. – Ian Watters’s second goal of the game, at 19:07 of the third period, gave the Brampton Battalion a stirring 5-4 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs on Thursday night, extending the Troops’ Ontario Hockey League winning streak to four games.

Michael Santini also scored two goals and Sean Jones contributed one for the Battalion, which ralllied from a 4-2 deficit by scoring three goals in a span of 7:42 in the last nine minutes. Goaltender Jacob Riley faced 23 shots as the Troops improved their won-lost-extended record to 4-1-0 for eight points and first place in the Central Division.

The Battalion last won a home game in the final minute of regulation time on Feb. 2, 2003, a 4-3 conquest of the Plymouth Whalers.

Ethan Werek, Clark Seymour, Michael Fine and Stephen Broek scored for Kingston, 2-3-0 for four points and a tie for second place in the East Division with the Ottawa 67’s. Goaltender Franky Palazzese made 32 saves in his first appearance of the season.

The game was the first between the teams since March 30, when the Battalion won 5-2 at Kingston in the seventh and deciding game of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

The Troops trailed 3-2 after two periods before Broek gave the visitors a two-goal lead at 3:38 of the third, converting a goalmouth pass at the right post.

“We have a young defence and we’re going to have some games where they make some mistakes,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler. “The good thing was we were down only 3-2 after two, and this group of kids really battles and finds a way to win games.”

The revolving door to the Battalion’s forward ranks continued. The team welcomed back centre Jonathan Johansson and right winger Matt MacLeod, who missed three games with knee and ankle injuries respectively, but was without centre Sam Carrick and right winger Philip Lane, sidelined with ankle and shoulder injuries respectively. MacLeod left after the second period with a recurrence of his ankle injury.

“We weren’t at our best in the first two periods,” said Jones. “We can’t really worry about whos in or whos out of the lineup. We battled back as a team and outworked Kingston in the third. A lot of people have written us off, but we’re a young team with a lot of rookies and we can just go in with no pressure, play our game and outwork the other team.”

Santini sparked the third-period comeback with a dazzling goal at 11:25. After coming off the bench and stripping the puck from Seymour, Santini entered Kingston territory in a one-on-one battle with Taylor Doherty. Santini faked a shot before moving around Doherty and snapping the puck over Palazzese’s left shoulder.

Jones tied the game at 14:38 when his shot from the left-wing boards hit Doherty’s stick and slid inside the right post. The goal was Jones’s fourth, tied with Santini for the team lead.

“I was just trying to get that puck on the net,” said Jones. I was a little frustrated, so I fired it at the net and it went off Doherty’s stick. It was a lucky shot, but it was the right idea to get it on the net. You never know what will happen then.

The Battalion, unable to capitalize on a roughing call to Mitch Lebar at 15:29, got another chance on the power play when Nathan Moon went off for hooking. Watters buried a loose puck in the deep slot for his third goal.

Santini opened the scoring at 16:07 of the first period, converting the rebound of a Zack Bell point shot, but Kingston replied 52 seconds later with the first of two goals 38 seconds apart. Werek put home his own rebound, and defenceman Seymour’s point shot eluded Riley after caroming off the glove of defender Craig Moore.

Watters tied it 2-2 at 8:05 of the second period, whacking a Barclay Goodrow feed past Palazzese. The second assist went to rookie Swedish import Johansson, who earned his first OHL point.

Fine put Kingston back in front with a shorthanded goal at 16:00. Dylan Blujus turned the puck over at the Frontenacs blue line, and Fine broke in alone on Riley with Johansson in pursuit. Riley came out to challenge, but Fine slid a backhander between the goaltender’s legs.

In addition to Lane and Carrick, the Battalion scratched Andreas Tsogkas. Kingston scratched Patrick Harrison, Tyler Mort, Nathan Cull, Ryan Davidson and Derek Froats.

The Battalion visits the Owen Sound Attack at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The game can be seen live in Brampton on Rogers Cable 10 and in Bolton, Caledon and Orangeville on Rogers Cable 63.

BATTALION NOTEBOOK: Attendance was 1,438 … The Battalion went 1-for-5 on the power play. Kingston was 0-for-2 … The Battalion is 2-1-0 at home, while the Frontenacs are 1-2-0 on the road … The Troops’ last win in the last minute of the third period came on Feb. 1, 2008, when they posted a 2-1 victory over the host Sudbury Wolves … For the fourth consecutive game the Battalion dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Opening line combinations featured Moore centring left winger Jones and right winger Scott Tanski, Johansson pivoting left winger Watters and Goodrow on right wing and Domenic Alberga centring left winger Stephon Thorne and right winger MacLeod. Left winger Alex O’Neil and right winger Santini had various linemates … Jamie Allison, the Battalion’s new skills development coach, watched the first two periods from the media box before viewing the third on television in the coaches office. Allison was an assistant coach with the club for the last three seasons … Frontenacs blueliner Erik Gudbranson made his season debut after being released Tuesday by the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League. Gudbranson was the third overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft in June. Brother Alex, a 16-year-old defenceman, was Kingston’s first-round choice in the OHL Priority Selection in May … Palazzese, a 17-year-old from Mississauga, made two starts last season … Philipp Grubauer, who backed up Palazzese, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals on Monday. A fourth-round pick in the NHL Entry Draft in June, Grubauer, a native of Germany, backstopped the Windsor Spitfires to the OHL championship and a Memorial Cup title last season.

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