NORTH BAY, Ont. — Adam Varga scored the winning goal at 18:36 of the second period as the Mississauga Steelheads edged the North Bay Battalion 4-3 Thursday night in the Ontario Hockey League club’s annual Pink in the Rink game in support of the Canadian Cancer Society and breast cancer awareness.
Richard Whittaker, Cole Carter and Ryan Barbosa also scored for Mississauga, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 7-2-1 for 15 points atop the Central Division. Goaltender Jacob Ingham made 25 saves.
Matthew Struthers and Justin Brazeau each had one goal and one assist for North Bay, which also got a goal from Brandon Coe. Goaltender Christian Propp faced 30 shots before 2,148 at Memorial Gardens. The Battalion is 4-7-0 for eight points, fifth in the division.
“For the most part we played a pretty good game,” said Adam Dennis, who ran the Battalion bench with fellow assistant Scott Wray in the absence of coach Stan Butler. “We battled hard and, for the first time in a long time, I don’t think we got the goaltending we needed, but that’s going to happen from time to time. There were a lot of positives, and we deserved a better result.”
Whittaker opened the scoring at 14:41 of the first period. Nicholas Canade raced to the net off the right wing and got off a shot that Propp stopped, but the rebound fell to Whittaker alone at the lip of the crease for the tap-in.
Mississauga took a 2-0 lead at 19:52. Defender Theo Calvas lost control of the puck in the goalmouth, and it was scooped up by Keean Washkurak, who slid the disc to Carter for a scoring shot from the deep slot.
The Steelheads failed to capitalize when the Battalion ran into penalty trouble early in the frame, with Luke Moncada called for hooking 13 seconds before the expiration of a double minor for high-sticking assessed to Patrick Brown.
The Troops cut the deficit to 2-1 at 3:08 of the second period when Struthers finished off a passing play with Brazeau and Egor Postnov, converting into an open net for a sixth goal on the season.
Brazeau tied it at 6:30, breaking in alone on Ingham and beating the goaltender with a backhand deke. Struthers and Postnov assisted on Brazeau’s team-leading ninth goal.
Barbosa restored the visitors’ lead at 7:51, rushing into the top of the right-wing circle and whipping a Ryan McLeod feed high over Propp’s blocker. It was defenceman Barbosa’s first OHL goal.
Coe made it 3-3 on the power play at 11:31 when his shot off the right wing eluded Ingham, who was screened by teammate Charlie Callaghan. Simon Rose had the only assist on Coe’s first goal.
Varga put the visitors in front to stay, putting the puck home on the short side on a rush off the right wing.
The scoreless third period, in which the Steelheads held an 8-6 edge in shots, saw the Troops get their best scoring chance in the fourth minute when Ingham denied Struthers on a breakaway. Brazeau missed finishing off a pass in close from Postnov in the 10th minute. Propp went to the bench for a sixth skater with 1:23 left to play and, despite pinning the Steelheads in their own zone for the rest of the game, the Battalion couldn’t find the equalizer.
The Battalion plays host to the Kingston Frontenacs at 2 p.m. Sunday.
BATTALION BULLETS: Conducting the ceremonial faceoff were Gil Pharand, senior manager of the North Bay office of the Canadian Cancer Society, Josh Cappadocia of the Canadian Automobile Association North Bay and Shelly Dwyer-Cappadocia, a double cancer survivor. A silent auction was held for the Troops’ pink sweaters, an autographed team sweater and a Battalion fire pit. Limited-edition pink hats were for sale, as were SugarDaddy cupcakes and pink ribbons … In 211 games, Brazeau has 76 goals and 67 assists for 143 points, tied with Luch Aquino for 18th place in franchise history … Opening lines featured Struthers centring left winger Postnov and right winger Brazeau, Adam McMaster pivoting left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Coe and Moncada centring left winger Harrison Caines and Rhys Forhan on right wing. Centre Brown and David Maier, a defenceman, at right wing had various linemates … North Bay, which dressed 11 at forward and seven defencemen, was without Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker, Kurtis Evans and Cameron Peters … Struthers returned after missing three games with an upper-body injury … Centre Kyle Jackson, recalled for the previous three games, has rejoined the junior A Ottawa Jr. Senators … The Battalion went 1-for-3 on the power play. Mississauga was 0-for-6 … Carter has 11 goals and four assists for 15 points in the last nine games.