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Peterborough prevails in Battalion’s opener

NORTH BAY, Ont. – Greg Betzold scored the first two goals as the Peterborough Petes defeated the North Bay Battalion 4-1 Friday night in the Troops’ Ontario Hockey League season opener.

Adam Timleck contributed one goal and one assist and Steven Lorentz also scored for the Petes, who got 31 saves from goaltender Dylan Wells. Peterborough downed the visiting Ottawa 67’s 5-4 Thursday, the first night of the schedule.

Zach Poirier scored for the Battalion, which has a won-lost-tied record of 4-13-1 in season openers. Goaltender Jake Smith faced 20 shots before a crowd of 3,764 at Memorial Gardens.

“We put a lot of new guys in the lineup, and there’ll be some growing pains,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler, who had six players making their OHL debuts.

“Wells is a good goalie, and he showed it again tonight. There are probably a couple of goals Smith would like back. It’s one of those games, and we have lot of work ahead of us and we know that. We can definitely improve on tonight’s effort.”

Butler said the turning point was a major penalty and game misconduct for checking to the head issued to Mathew Santos at 3:46 of the second period after he appeared to hit Josh Maguire in the shoulder.

“I thought it was a clean check, but the four zebras didn’t see it the same way. That took a big player out of our game and really changed the momentum.”

Some undisciplined play in the first period resulted in three Peterborough power plays, with the Petes converting on the last as Betzold buried a Hunter Garlent pass at 17:01 while alone in the slot.

The Battalion outshot the visitors 11-6 in the period. Wells was tested by Zach Bratina in the ninth minute, and the goaltender kicked out his right leg to deny Mike Amadio from deep in the right-wing circle in the 14th. Wells swatted away the rebound of a Jacob Ball shot off the left wing in the final minute with Max Kislinger lurking at the lip of the crease.

Smith was sharp, getting in front of Lorentz’s tip of a Dominik Masin shot from the blue line in the fifth minute, snaring a Jonathan Ang effort off a right-wing rush and parrying a subsequent shot from the blue line by Kyle Jenkins in the 17th. 

The Petes struck again on the power play at 10:30 of the second period after the Battalion was issued a bench minor as Butler continued to voice his displeasure with the quality of officiating. Betzold straddled the blue line and reached high to keep the puck onside, stepped around Poirier and Zach Shankar and snapped a shot over Smith’s glove from the slot.

“I thought it was offside,” said Butler. “It was good of the linesman to come over and explain the call. That was more than the referees did all night.”

Timleck made it 3-0 at 13:41, racing between Miles Liberati and Riley Bruce to chip a loose puck over a sprawling Smith.

Lorentz gave the Petes a four-goal lead at 17:40, converting a cross-crease pass from Eric Cornel at the right post.

The Troops managed seven shots and tested Wells early, but he denied chances by Brett McKenzie, Kislinger, Liberati and Bratina.

Poirier scored on the power play at 11:41 of the third period, snapping a Bratina feed over Wells’s glove from the deep slot. Cam Dineen earned his first OHL point with the second assist.

North Bay had some chances late, but Bratina steered a backhander wide of the right post and Wells made saves on Dineen, Ball and Justin Brazeau.

The Battalion visits the Oshawa Generals at 6:05 p.m. Sunday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on TVCogeco Cable 12 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: North Bay went 1-for-6 on the power play. The Petes were 2-for-6 … The Battalion hasn’t won a season opener since a 3-2 Brampton victory at Peterborough on Sept. 21, 2006. The Troops haven’t won a home opener since a 5-2 verdict over the Guelph Storm on Sept. 24, 2004. The Battalion has a won-lost-extended record of 5-11-2 in such games … Bratina and Liberati each was credited with a team-leading five shots on goal as the OHL officially tracked that individual statistic for the first time. Betzold led the Petes with four shots … Opening lines included Amadio centring left winger Bratina and Poirier on right wing, McKenzie centring left winger Mike Baird and right winger Santos and Kyle Potts pivoting left winger David Sherman and right winger Kyle Moore. Kislinger centred left winger Ball and right winger Brazeau … Defence pairings saw Liberati with Bruce, Shankar with Mark Shoemaker and Jake Ramalho with Dineen … The Battalion scratched Austin Kosack, Kyle Wood, Owen Green, Brady Lyle and Calvin Gomes … Potts, Ball, Kislinger, Brazeau, Ramalho and Dineen made their OHL debuts … Jake Kment backed up Smith … The referees were Brent Coulombe and Darryl Wolfe. In keeping with a new protocol, the on-ice officials’ shirts featured name bars on the back.

The online game sheet can be found here.

The game highlights can be found here.

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