NORTH BAY, Ont. – Jordan Maletta scored the winning goal at 12:11 of the third period to lift the Niagara IceDogs to a 3-1 Ontario Hockey League victory Sunday over the North Bay Battalion.
Josh Ho-Sang provided an empty-net goal and two assists and Blake Siebenaler also scored for Niagara, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 7-7-1 for 15 points, leapfrogging North Bay for third place in the Central Division. Goaltender Stephen Dhillon faced 22 shots.
Mathew Santos scored for the Battalion, 6-7-2 for 14 points. Goaltender Jake Kment, making a third straight start, contributed 18 saves before 3,176 at Memorial Gardens.
Maletta broke a 1-1 tie with his team-leading ninth goal of the season when he whipped a Ho-Sang feed from the end boards past Kment’s glove from the high slot.
Battalion coach Stan Butler, troubled by what he called a questionable first IceDogs goal, said he felt the Troops were outworked on the winner. Mike Baird was hobbled after blocking a shot and couldn’t get into the lane to impede Maletta’s shot.
“Our work ethic for the most part is pretty good, but it comes and goes,” said Butler. “The winning goal is a good example of that. There were a lot of battles we could have won in an even game, and our guys just found ways to lose those battles, and as a result the puck ended up in the back of our net. Baird did his job. He worked extremely hard on that shift, but there were a couple of other guys on the ice who lost battles.”
The Battalion, which had several chances early in the frame, fought for the equalizer, but Dhillon denied an in-close backhander by Zach Poirier in the 14th minute and fended off a net rush by Santos before stopping an Austin Kosack drive with Poirier lurking for the rebound with the Troops on a late power play.
Ho-Sang finished the scoring at 19:06 with Kment on the bench.
Siebenaler was credited with opening the scoring at 4:03 of the first period on a goal that required a lengthy video review. Defenceman Siebenaler fired a shot from the top of the right-wing circle that appeared to hit the left post. Referee Jason Goldenberg signaled a goal and, after a conference with the video goal judge lasting more than six minutes, the call was allowed to stand.
Butler, who viewed available video, was adamant that the puck never entered the net but said he’d like to see the view from above the cage.
Santos tied it on the power play at 5:14, racing down the right wing and snapping the puck inside the left post. Mike Amadio and Mark Shoemaker collected assists on Santos’s first goal of the campaign.
The Troops outshot the visitors 7-6 in the period. Dhillon denied Kyle Potts’s shot from deep on the left wing and foiled Shoemaker and Santos. Dhillon foiled penalty killer Brett McKenzie after he jumped on a turnover deep in Niagara territory, and Justin Brazeau rang the rubber off the right post.
Kment stretched to get his left pad on Johnny Corneil’s effort from the deep slot, found a fluttering puck from Corneil and used the blocker to parry a Ryan Mantha drive.
Both teams had excellent scoring chances in the second period. Dhillon poked the puck away from a charging Santos and stopped a Kosack drive. Dhillon kicked out an Amadio shot and survived breakaways by penalty killers Santos and Amadio with Baird serving a double minor for high-sticking.
Kment got his blocker on a Siebenaler drive, stopped Zach Wilkie’s attempt from the goalmouth and made stops on Siebenaler and Vince Dunn in the final minutes. Niagara’s Graham Knott lost control of the puck on a breakaway midway in the frame.
The Battalion visits the Peterborough Petes at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on TVCogeco Cable 12 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: Amadio, who’s on a nine-game points streak during which he has seven goals and six assists for 13 points, tied Luch Aquino for 16th place on the franchise’s all-time points list. In 210 games, Amadio has 49 goals and 94 assists for 143 points … Kment suffered his first regulation-time loss and is 1-1-1 this season, 7-1-1 over two years … The Battalion went 1-for-6 on the power play. Niagara was 0-for-5 … Opening lines included Amadio centring left winger Jacob Ball and right winger Santos, McKenzie centring left winger Baird and right winger Brett Hargrave and Poirier pivoting Zach Shankar on left wing and right winger Brazeau. Potts centred left winger Max Kislinger and right winger Kyle Moore … The Battalion scratched Jake Smith, Kyle Wood, David Sherman, Zach Bratina and Brady Lyle … Brendan Dale of the North Bay Trappers midgets backed up Kment, allowing the Battalion to dress overage defenceman Kosack … Shankar, normally a defenceman, returned from a two-game suspension for a slewfoot in a 4-2 road loss to the Mississauga Steelheads last Sunday … Ho-Sang has a six-game assists streak during which he has eight assists … The game was the second of six between North Bay and Niagara, the host Battalion having won 4-3 on Oct. 18. The Troops travel to St. Catharines on Nov. 27.