Wolves nip Troops late
SUDBURY, Ont. — Drake Pilon scored on the power play at 19:16 of the third period to lift the Sudbury Wolves to a 4-3 victory over the North Bay Battalion in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday.
Zack Malik had one goal and one assist and Shane Bulitka and Owen Gilhula also scored for Sudbury, which moved its won-lost extended record to 10-6-1 for 21 points, third in the Central Division, two points ahead of the Barrie Colts, who fell 4-0 Sunday night to the host Oshawa Generals. Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen faced 37 shots before a crowd recorded as 3,043.
Justin Brazeau scored one goal and added an assist for North Bay, which also got goals from Harrison Caines and Brad Chenier and three assists from Nick King. Goaltender Christian Propp made 32 saves as the Troops lost a second straight game. The Battalion is 8-8-1 for 17 points, fifth in the division.
North Bay, which trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes, used its league-leading power play to tie the game and take its first lead early in the third period, sparked by Brazeau. Parked in front of Luukkonen, he tipped home David Maier’s wrister from the blue line at 3:04. King had the second assist on Brazeau’s 19th goal of the season, tied with Tye Felhaber of the Ottawa 67’s for the league lead.
Brazeau has 86 career goals, tied with Mike Amadio for second place among Battalion scorers since the franchise moved from Brampton for the 2013-14 season. Brett McKenzie is the leader in the North Bay era with 88 goals. Brazeau leads the OHL scoring race with 36 points, including 17 assists, in 17 games.
Chenier capitalized on the second half of a double minor for high-sticking issued to Kirill Nizhnikov, taking a feed from Maier and beating Luukkonen high to the glove side at the right post at 7:49. King also assisted on Chenier’s seventh goal.
Gilhula tied it 3-3 at 10:14. Propp got the glove on a breakaway effort by Nolan Hutcheson, but Gilhula followed up to flip the rebound over the prone goaltender.
Pilon struck for the winner with Matthew Struthers off for slashing. Liam Ross moved the puck to Pilon at the left post and, as he attempted a pass across the goalmouth, the disc hit the left leg of defender Theo Calvas and bounced back to Pilon, who converted into an open net.
Sudbury took a 2-0 lead with goals 46 seconds apart in the opening period, the first credited to Bulitka at 4:29 when his pass attempt across the goalmouth to David Levin was directed into the net by defender Adam McMaster. Second-year defenceman Malik then collected his first OHL goal when his wrister from the left point beat Propp high to the glove side.
Rookie Caines replied with his first OHL goal at 19:46 as he took a pass from Brazeau behind the goal line while alone in the slot and shoveled the puck past Luukkonen’s right pad. King drew the second assist.
The Troops were outshot 14-8 in the frame, and Propp made several fine saves with Sudbury on a four-minute power play, denying Hutcheson, Darian Pilon and Drake Pilon. Propp turned away Owen Robinson with a glove save in close in the 18th minute.
The Battalion outshot Sudbury 18-7 in the scoreless second period. Luukkonen faced good chances from McMaster, Calvas, Struthers and Daniel Walker. Darian Pilon narrowly missed converting a Bulitka pass at the goalmouth in the sixth minute, and Propp made good stops on Levin and Drake Pilon.
The Battalion opens a home-and-home series with the Niagara IceDogs at St. Catharines at 7 p.m. Friday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: It was the first of eight meetings between the teams. The next is Nov. 16 at North Bay … The Battalion’s last visit to the Sudbury Community Arena saw the Kingston Frontenacs defeat the Troops 4-1 in the third game of a best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal March 27 as Memorial Gardens was reconfigured to hockey after the World Women’s Curling Championship. Kingston won the series in five games … Brazeau has 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points in the last eight games … Struthers saw the end of a nine-game points streak in which he had nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points … King produced the first three-point game of his OHL career … The Battalion, which dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, was without Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan, Patrick Brown and Payton Vescio … The Troops’ power play went 2-for-5. Sudbury was 1-for-5 … Sudbury was without centre Quinton Byfield, who’s with Canada Black at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B. Byfield was the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection in April from the York Simcoe Express minor midgets. Second-round defenceman Jack Thompson is with Canada Red … Luukkonen, of Espoo, Finland, was the third overall pick in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft last June. He is 8-3-1 with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage and one shutout.