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Barrie beats Battalion

BARRIE, Ont. — Luke Bignell scored two goals to help send the Barrie Colts to a 6-1 victory over the North Bay Battalion in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night.

Tyson Foerster provided one goal and three assists, Jason Willms had one goal and one assist and Jack York and Oliver Smith also scored for Barrie, which has a won-lost-extended record of 16-16-3 for 35 points, tied with the Niagara IceDogs for second place in the Central Division. Goaltender Jet Greaves made 32 saves before a crowd recorded as 3,600.

Mitchell Russell scored for North Bay, 9-27-1 for 19 points, fifth and last in the division. Goaltender Joe Vrbetic faced 26 shots as the Battalion returned closer to form after losing 9-8 in overtime at home to Niagara in a scoring festival Thursday night.

Foerster opened the scoring on the power play at 12:06 of the first period after Brad Chenier was issued a major and game misconduct for a check from behind on Brandt Clarke, whom Chenier tried to save from the effect of the contact. Foerster took a pass from Ryan Suzuki and hammered the puck from the top of the right-wing circle past Vrbetic, who was screened by Bignell.

Bignell scored what proved to be the winning goal at 19:56 off a two-on-one rush with Foerster.

The Troops held a 10-9 edge in shots, with their best chances coming late in the frame. Greaves, who stopped a long drive by Alex Christopoulos as well as Liam Arnsby’s close-range attempt at the rebound in the 18th minute, blocked a Luke Moncada shot from deep in the left circle in the 20th.

Willms struck at 18:29 of the second period when he drove to the net and chipped a Foerster feed over Vrbetic’s right shoulder.

Vrbetic made good stops early in the period against Aidan Brown and Riley Piercey. Foerster just missed converting a Suzuki pass at the right post in the 10th minute. Greaves foiled Brandon Coe on a strong move to the net off the left wing in the sixth minute and got the glove on a Nick Grima drive from the slot in the 16th. Greaves was tight to the post to deny Russell in the 18th minute.

Penalty-killing defenceman York struck at 1:56 of the third period as he trailed the play, took a back pass from Brown and beat Vrbetic low to the glove side.

Russell scored at 6:17, moving through the slot and firing a wrister over Greaves’s left pad. Grima and Simon Rose assisted on Russell’s 14th goal of the season.

Bignell capitalized with the man advantage at 16:52, and Smith converted from the left circle at 19:36 to pad Barrie’s margin.

The Battalion outshot the hosts 15-7 in the period but, despite threats by the likes of Russell, Coe and Kyle Jackson, couldn’t connect on a man advantage scheduled for four minutes that carried over from the middle frame. Chad Denault tested Greaves in tight in the 13th minute, and Harrison Caines forced the goaltender to slide to deny a shot off a two-on-one attack with Josh Currie in the 15th. Greaves foiled chances for Rose and Mason Primeau in the 16th minute.

The Battalion plays host to the Windsor Spitfires at 2 p.m. Sunday.

BATTALION BULLETS: Per the OHL’s practice after New Year’s, the Battalion wore white-based sweaters and socks on the road … The 17 combined goals in Niagara’s win set a record for goals in a Battalion game, breaking the mark of 14, which has occurred 11 times, including twice since relocation to North Bay in 2013. The most recent incidence was an 11-3 road loss Sept. 27 to the Sudbury Wolves, and the other North Bay game was a 12-2 loss Jan. 2, 2016, at Barrie. The Battalion has a won-lost-tied record of 2-7-2 in 14-goal games … The meeting was the teams’ third of six and the first at Barrie. The Colts won 3-0 in the season opener Sept. 20, and the Troops prevailed 5-4 on Nov. 17. The next game is Feb. 15 at Barrie … Russell, a Barrie resident, has a four-game points streak in which he has four goals and two assists for six points. The four goals have come in his last three games … North Bay went 0-for-4 on the power play. Barrie was 2-for-3 … The Battalion was without James Mayotte and Christian Cicigoi … Among the missing for Barrie, which dressed 16 skaters, two below the limit, was Matej Pekar, who’s been with the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship in his home country … In three games against North Bay, Willms has two goals and four assists for six points … Suzuki has one goal and four assists for five points in a four-game points streak … The referees were Drew Jackson and Tom Sweeney.

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