Troops trek on to victory
HAMILTON — Justin Brazeau’s goal at 8:31 of the third period proved to be the winner as the North Bay Battalion defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-2 Sunday, extending its Ontario Hockey League winning streak to four games.
Brad Chenier scored two goals and goaltender Christian Propp provided an outstanding performance, making 31 saves, as North Bay improved its won-lost-extended record to 8-7-0 for 16 points, fifth in the Central Division.
The Battalion, which completed a two-game road trip after a 5-2 win Saturday night over the Erie Otters, hasn’t lost since a 4-3 home-ice setback Oct. 18 to the Mississauga Steelheads.
Arthur Kaliyev and Nicolas Mattinen scored for the Bulldogs, who have lost four straight games since a 7-6 victory via shootout Oct. 17 over the host Owen Sound Attack. Goaltender Zachary Roy faced 18 shots before 2,735 at FirstOntario Centre.
Hamilton, 7-7-1 for 15 points, is fourth in the East Division.
The Battalion scored two goals 1:17 apart in the third period to take a 3-1 lead, with Chenier putting the Troops ahead at 7:14, finding himself alone in front of the net to one-time a pass from Adam McMaster behind the goal line on the left wing. Brandon Coe had the second assist on Chenier’s sixth goal of the season.
Brazeau, lurking in the goalmouth, then redirected Matthew Struthers’s drive from the left boards past Roy’s glove. Egor Postnov earned the second assist on Brazeau’s 16th goal, which tied Tye Felhaber of the Ottawa 67’s for the league lead. Brazeau leads the OHL scoring race with 32 points, including 16 assists, in 15 games.
The Battalion was skating four on three when Hamilton pulled within a goal at 11:58. Josh Wainman missed the net on a partial breakaway, and Mattinen followed up to bury the rebound off the end boards. The shorthanded goal was defenceman Mattinen’s fifth.
The Bulldogs attacked with six skaters for the final 1:55, getting plenty of time in the Battalion zone, but Propp turned away Kaliyev, Mattinen and Matthew Strome, whose attempt from the right circle rolled through the crease after hitting the goaltender.
Kaliyev opened the scoring at 6:07 of the first period on a play that should have been icing. Kaliyev took the puck from Simon Rose on the end boards and banked it into the net off Propp’s left skate from behind the goal line. In a blatant display of stats-padding, Brandon Saigeon and Michael Renwick were awarded assists.
The Battalion, which had two power plays in the period, had its best chance with the man advantage in the 13th minute when Struthers fanned on a shot in the right circle with an open net looming. Roy denied penalty killer Brazeau on a left-wing rush in the eighth minute.
Chenier tied it 1-1 at 17:17 of the second period after Luke Moncada missed the net with a screened drive from the mid slot. The puck rebounded off the end boards to Chenier, who converted from a sharp angle at the left post. Rhys Forhan also assisted.
The Battalion, outshot 11-4 in the period, had two other outstanding chances. Roy slid across the crease to deny Coe in close in the second minute, and Wainman raced back to break up Struthers’s breakaway opportunity in the 16th. Propp made outstanding saves on Kaliyev and Navrin Mutter.
The Battalion plays host to Erie at 7 p.m. Thursday.
BATTALION BULLETS: It was the second game between the teams, after the Battalion won 7-5 at North Bay on Sept. 21 in the season opener for both … Brazeau’s 12th career game-winning goal tied him with Adam Henrich and Chris Rowan for eighth place in franchise history. Brazeau has nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in the last six games … In his last eight games, Struthers has scored nine goals and earned 12 assists for 21 points … The Battalion went 7-3-0 in October … Opening lines featured Struthers centring left winger Postnov and right winger Brazeau, McMaster centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Moncada pivoting left winger Daniel Walker and Forhan on right wing. Centre Patrick Brown and right winger Kurtis Evans had various linemates … The Battalion, which dressed seven defencemen, was without Travis Mailhot, Harrison Caines, Cameron Peters and Payton Vescio … The game, which featured the OHL’s best two power plays, saw top-rated North Bay go 0-for-6 and Hamilton 0-for-3 … Hamilton’s MacKenzie Entwistle saw the end of an eight-game points streak during which he had seven goals and five assists for 12 points … Saigeon’s generous assist extended a points streak to seven games, in which he’s credited with five goals and seven assists for 12 points … Strome saw the end of a five-game assists streak in which he had eight assists.