BARRIE, Ont. — Justin Brazeau scored two goals and added an assist to power the North Bay Battalion to a 4-1 victory Saturday night over the Barrie Colts, pulling the Troops within three points of the Colts in the Ontario Hockey League’s Central Division.
Matthew Struthers had one goal and two assists and Luke Moncada scored an empty-net goal for North Bay, which has a won-lost-extended record of 13-18-2 for 28 points, fifth in the division. Goaltender Christian Propp turned aside 34 shots in a stellar performance in the opening game of a home-and-home set.
Tyler Tucker scored for the Colts, 15-16-1 for 31 points, fourth in the division with a game in hand. Goaltender Kai Edmonds made 21 saves before 3,640 at the Barrie Molson Centre.
The teams meet again at North Bay at 2 p.m. Sunday, when the Battalion holds its annual Teddy Bear Toss.
Brazeau produced all the offence the Battalion would need in the second period. He tied the game 1-1 on the power play at 1:25, putting a Struthers pass over Edmonds’s glove from the slot. Luke Burghardt earned the second assist.
Brazeau connected for the winning goal at 5:50, muscling his way around Tucker and, alone with the goaltender, chipping the puck over Edmonds’s right pad for a team-leading 30th goal on the season. Nick King had the sole assist.
The teams were skating four-on-four when Brazeau set up the Battalion’s third goal. After Edmonds abandoned his crease to play the puck to his left, Brazeau stripped him of the disc and slid it to a charging Struthers, who converted into the vacant net for his 16th goal at 17:02.
The manpower situation arose after Barrie’s Riley Piercey delivered a head check to Brandon Coe at 16:40. Brad Chenier jumped Piercey, pummeling him and getting the takedown. Piercey was assessed head-checking and fighting majors and a game misconduct, while Chenier drew an instigating minor and fighting major. Coe received six stitches near his right eye and returned to action.
Propp was outstanding, producing 19 saves in the period. He denied Jaden Peca and Jason Willms in close in the first minute, parried a drive from the blue line by Christopher Cameron in the fourth and slid across the crease to rob Jacob Tortora at the left post in the seventh. Propp foiled good chances for Ben Hawerchuk, Ryan Suzuki, Tyson Foerster and Lucas Chiodo, who also lost control of the puck with Propp going the other way in the crease late in the frame.
The Colts didn’t record a third-period shot until 12:53, when Propp reacted quickly to foil a Chiodo wraparound attempt at the left post. Barrie couldn’t create a scoring attempt on the period’s only power play and, seconds after Edmonds left for a sixth skater, Propp lofted the puck down the ice just wide of the open net.
Moncada hit the empty net at 19:41 for his third goal, with Struthers and Patrick Brown drawing assists.
The hosts enjoyed a decided territorial edge in the first period and had several good scoring chances before defenceman Tucker scored the only goal of the frame, on the power play at 18:21, when he hammered a shot from the blue line over Propp’s glove.
Barrie outshot North Bay 12-5 in the opening period. Propp denied Piercey on a breakaway in the fourth minute and stopped Nathan Allensen on a rush to the net in the seventh. Propp sprawled in his crease to kick away a short-range threat from Aidan Brown in the 11th minute. The Battalion’s best chance came in the 17th minute when Moncada hit the post off the left wing.
BATTALION BULLETS: In 233 games Brazeau has 97 goals and 87 assists for 184 points, one more than Jeff Bateman and ninth in franchise history. Brazeau scored his 13th game-winning goal, tying John Hughes, Raffi Torres and Mike Amadio for fifth place on the Battalion’s career list … Moncada played his 100th game since a June 27, 2017, trade with the Guelph Storm. A third-round pick by Guelph in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection from the Toronto Red Wings minor midgets, he was acquired with Burghardt for forward Zach Poirier and defenceman Mark Shoemaker. Moncada has 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points with North Bay after earning five assists in 37 games for Guelph … The Battalion went 1-for-3 on the power play. Barrie was 1-for-4 … Opening lines included Struthers centring Adam McMaster on left wing and right winger Brazeau, Mason Primeau pivoting left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Burghardt centring left winger Daniel Walker and right winger Kurtis Evans. Moncada centred left winger Harrison Caines and Brown on right wing … North Bay was without Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan, David Maier and Cameron Peters … Those missing for Barrie were Joey Keane, Matej Pekar and Maksim Zhukov … Barrie’s Brown returned from a two-game suspension for a slew-footing match penalty in a 5-1 road loss Dec. 7 to the Sudbury Wolves.