Battalion downs IceDogs

NORTH BAY, Ont. — This time, it didn’t take overtime.

Brad Chenier’s goal at 16:07 of the second period proved the winner as the North Bay Battalion defeated the Niagara IceDogs 4-3 Saturday night to complete a sweep of their home-and-home series.

Brandon Coe, Matthew Struthers and Braden Henderson also scored for North Bay, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 10-8-1 for 21 points, fourth in the Ontario Hockey League’s Central Division, two points ahead of the Barrie Colts, who lost 4-2 to the visiting Ottawa 67’s.

Adam McMaster, who scored the overtime winner in a 4-3 verdict Friday night at Niagara, and Simon Rose each provided two assists for the Battalion, while goaltender Christian Purboo made 35 saves before 2,470 at Memorial Gardens.

Ben Jones had one goal and one assist and Daniel Bukac and Drew Hunter a goal apiece for Niagara, with goaltender Christian Sbaraglia, who made his OHL debut, facing 25 shots. Sbaraglia was a sixth-round pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection from the Vaughan Kings minor midgets.

Niagara, which has lost three straight games, is 10-6-3 for 23 points, third in the division, a point behind the Mississauga Steelheads and Sudbury Wolves.

Henderson broke a 2-2 tie on the power play at 13:01 of the second period, stepping into the left-wing circle and snapping the puck past Sbaraglia. McMaster and Rose drew assists on defenceman Henderson’s first OHL goal in his 70th game split between the Sarnia Sting and Battalion.

Chenier then took a short back pass from Justin Brazeau and ripped the puck home from the mid slot. Rose also assisted on Chenier’s eighth goal of the season. The assist gave Brazeau, the OHL’s scoring leader, 39 points on 19 goals and 20 assists in 19 games.

Bukac instigated a fight with Daniel Walker at 5:06 but likely regretted it, as Walker pounded his opponent to the ice for the takedown and a clear decision. Each received a major and game misconduct, with Walker assessed a misconduct for persistence.

“Say what you will, it definitely turned the momentum for us,” Battalion assistant coach Adam Dennis said of the fight, which occurred five seconds after Niagara’s Philip Tomasino had a would-be goal negated by an offside entry into the zone.

Jones pulled the visitors within a goal at 15:22 of the third period, connecting from the inner edge of the right circle off a feed from Elijah Roberts, but the IceDogs, who played the final 1:55 with six attackers, could get no closer as the Troops just missed the empty net several times.

The teams split four first-period goals, with defenceman Bukac opening the scoring at 1:08 on a right-point lob that found the far high corner of the net before Coe countered at 5:04 off a two-on-one rush, flipping the puck past Sbaraglia from deep in the right circle. McMaster and Nick King assisted on Coe’s fifth goal.

Struthers struck for his 12th goal at 8:36, scoring high to Sbaraglia’s stick side from an open position on the left side of the goalmouth. Cole Cameron and Walker had the assists. Defenceman Hunter tied it again during a two-man advantage at 15:23, snapping the puck home from the top of the right circle for his first goal, assisted by Oliver Castleman and Tomasino.

Chenier, who stripped Kyen Sopa of the puck at the Niagara blue line, was denied on a shorthanded breakaway when Sbaraglia made a right-pad save and covered up at 13:21.

The Battalion visits Barrie at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: Remembrance Night ceremonies honoured the sacrifice of members of the Canadian military. Taking part in the puck drop were Master Warrant Officer Sarah Surtees, Master Corporal Evan Cabanaw, 79-year-old Sgt. James Dean, retired, and 92-year-old Lieut. Ralph Diegel, retired. Craig Rodwell of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23 played The Last Post, and pipe major Bill Boutilier of the North Bay Pipe and Drum Band played The Flowers of the Forest … Also honoured was Brad Handley, the Battalion’s head trainer in Brampton for five seasons culminating in 2006-07, who passed away Friday … Apart from a New Year’s Eve date in 2016, it was the Battalion’s first regular-season home game on a Saturday since relocating to North Bay for the 2013-14 season … Brazeau has a 10-game points streak in which he has 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points … The Battalion was 1-for-1 on the power play. Niagara went 1-for-5 … North Bay, which dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, was without Travis Mailhot, Egor Postnov, Rhys Forhan and David Maier … Niagara again was missing centre Akil Thomas, who’s their leading scorer, right winger Kirill Maksimov and defenceman Lleyton Moore, a first-round pick in the OHL Priority Selection last April … Jones has three goals and three assists in the last five games … In three games against North Bay, Tomasino has one goal and five assists for six points.

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