Troops tame Bulldogs 3-2

HAMILTON — Newcomer Matthew Struthers’s goal at 17:05 of the second period proved the winner as the North Bay Battalion skated to a 3-2 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night.

Kyle Potts and Andy Baker also scored for North Bay, which got 30 saves from goaltender Julian Sime before a crowd of 4,188 at the FirstOntario Centre. The Battalion moved its won-lost-extended record to 14-19-6 for 34 points, fourth in the Central Division.

Jack Hanley and Nicholas Caamano scored for Hamilton, 24-9-6 for 54 points atop the East Division and Eastern Conference. Goaltender Kaden Fulcher faced 29 shots for the Bulldogs, who are 13-3-3 at home.

Baker gave the Battalion a 2-0 lead at 7:58 of the second period, seizing a turnover in the neutral zone and outracing Hanley down the right wing before cruising across the goalmouth and slipping a backhander past Fulcher. It was Baker’s eighth goal of the season.

Hanley replied at 15:05, firing the puck home from the mid slot as the trailer on an odd-man rush. Will Bitten and Ryan Moore drew assists on defenceman Hanley’s first goal.

Struthers then struck for his first goal with the Battalion after a trade Wednesday from the Owen Sound Attack, with a bouncing puck glancing off his leg. Justin Brazeau and Luke Burghardt had assists on the 10th goal of the season for Struthers, who was acquired by the Troops with a 14th-round pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection and a 2020 second-rounder in exchange for overager Brett McKenzie.

Caamano pulled Hamilton within a goal at 8:27 of the third period when he drove to the net off the right wing and directed the puck toward the goal, where Struthers put it into his own cage. Caamano received credit for his 18th goal, with assists going to Benjamin Gleason and Hanley.

Fulcher left for a sixth attacker with 1:45 to play, but the Troops fended off the hosts down the stretch. Sime shone in the final frame, snagging a Riley Stillman blast off the left wing in the second minute and denying Isaac Nurse in tight in the eighth.

Potts opened the scoring at 18:51 of the first period, emerging from the left wing and skating across the crease, with the puck eluding Fulcher even without a definitive shot being taken. Luke Moncada assisted on Potts’s seventh goal.

Sime made a solid left-pad save against MacKenzie Entwistle in alone in the 11th minute and was strong when Burghardt took his second penalty of the period, a minor for blindsiding, at 14:09.

The Battalion plays host to the London Knights at 2 p.m. Sunday.

BATTALION BULLETS: Struthers, who still hasn’t practised with his new teammates, had an assist in his Battalion debut, a 6-5 loss via shootout Thursday night to the visiting Oshawa Generals … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Hamilton was 0-for-3 … Opening lines included Struthers centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Adam McMaster centring left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Baker and Potts pivoting left winger Moncada and right winger Brandon Coe. Patrick Brown skated between Alex Robert on left wing and Kurtis Evans on right wing … The Battalion scratched Eric Allair, Riley Bruce, Rhys Forhan and Daniel Walker … McMaster, the Battalion’s first-round pick, 13th overall, in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection from the Niagara North Stars minor midgets, played his 100th game. The 17-year-old Hamilton native and Beamsville, Ont., resident has scored eight goals and earned 31 assists for 39 points in his OHL career … Among the scratches for Hamilton were Brandon Saigeon and Connor McMichael … Caamano has an 11-game points streak during which he has scored five goals and earned nine assists for 14 points … Moore has a nine-game assists streak in which he has accumulated 10 assists … Hamilton’s Matthew Strome saw the end of a four-game scoring streak in which he had six goals … The referees were Ryan Elbers and Mike Marley.

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