Wolves nip Battalion 2-1
SUDBURY, Ont. — Drake Pilon scored at 17:49 of the third period to lift the Sudbury Wolves to a 2-1 victory Saturday night over the North Bay Battalion, snapping the Troops’ Ontario Hockey League winning streak at six games.
David Levin also scored for Sudbury, while goaltender Jake McGrath provided 32 saves. The Wolves have a won-lost-extended record of 13-27-6 for 32 points, fifth in the Central Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Brad Chenier scored for North Bay, 19-20-6 for 44 points, third in the division and sixth in the conference. The Troops’ previous loss was a 6-5 setback via shootout to the visiting Oshawa Generals on Jan. 4. Goaltender Christian Propp faced 34 shots before 2,690 at the Sudbury Community Arena.
Blake Murray took the puck behind the net and attempted a wraparound at the left post, with Pilon driving to the crease to stuff the disc home for his ninth goal of the season.
Propp left for a sixth attacker off the ensuing faceoff, but Sudbury withstood intense pressure to preserve the lead, putting its record in the last 14 games at 3-10-1. The Battalion downed the Wolves 5-3 Thursday night at North Bay before Sudbury fell 4-2 Friday night to the visiting Saginaw Spirit.
The teams swapped second-period goals, with Chenier opening the scoring at 7:01 on his 11th goal of the season. Jesse Saban fired the puck from the mid blue line through traffic, and Chenier jammed at the rubber in the crease to put it under McGrath. Brandon Coe had the other assist.
Levin responded at 11:59 with a wrister from the top of the left-wing circle off a rush. Doug Blaisdell and Alexey Lipanov drew assists.
Daniel Walker had two cracks at the puck in a sweep across McGrath’s crease in the fifth minute, and Matthew Struthers tipped the puck dangerously at the goaltender off a hard pass from the right wing in the sixth. Sudbury applied sustained pressure in the seventh and eighth minutes after Chenier scored, with two Levin threats foiled.
The Troops killed a two-man disadvantage lasting 18 seconds after Kyle Potts was penalized for slashing at 16:18 and Riley Bruce for crosschecking at 18:00.
In the first period, McGrath made a solid blocker save on Andy Baker in the 12th minute off a setup by Walker. Propp countered by denying Lipanov at the goalmouth in the 14th minute before producing two rapid-fire stops, the second coming against Kirill Nizhnikov at 16:40 after the goaltender had lost his mask. Nizhnikov, a former teammate with the Barrie Colts, found Propp and gave him an apologetic tap.
Sudbury’s Kyle Rhodes hit the left post with a screened lob in the 19th minute before Bruce and Darian Pilon went off for roughing after a pileup on top of McGrath at 19:00. The Troops had two excellent chances, with Justin Brazeau backhanding the puck off the crossbar and watching it land atop the net at 19:14 and Struthers taking off on a breakaway only to be stopped with 14 seconds left in the period.
The Battalion plays host to Saginaw at 2 p.m. Sunday.
BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion’s six-game winning streak equaled the record since relocation to North Bay in 2013. The Troops also won six in a row March 6-16, 2014, to end the season. The franchise record is 16 straight wins Oct. 13 to Nov. 23, 2008, when based in Brampton … It was the fifth of eight season meetings, with the next Feb. 21 at North Bay. The Battalion is 4-1-0 against Sudbury … Chenier, a resident of Hanmer, Ont., marked his 19th birthday Saturday. He scored a career-high three goals in the Troops’ last visit to Sudbury, a 6-5 win Nov. 19 … Brazeau saw the end of a seven-game points streak during which he had five goals and nine assists for 14 points … The Battalion’s Adam McMaster failed to score for the first time in four games … North Bay went 0-for-1 on the power play. Sudbury was 0-for-2 … Opening line combinations included Struthers centring left winger Luke Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Potts centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Patrick Brown pivoting McMaster on left wing and right winger Jake Henderson. Luke Moncada centred left winger Walker and right winger Baker … The Battalion was without Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan and Kurtis Evans … Rookie Murray has a six-game points streak in which he has two goals and five assists for seven points … Sudbury scratched Blake McConville and Zack Malik … The referees were Jason Faist and Josh Schein.