NORTH BAY, Ont. — Luke Moncada’s goal at 10:23 of the third period stood up as the winner for the North Bay Battalion, which defeated the Niagara IceDogs 4-3 in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday.
Matthew Struthers, Nick Grima and Brad Chenier also scored for North Bay, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 5-19-0 for 10 points, fifth in the Central Division. Rookie goaltender Joe Vrbetic faced 29 shots before 1,908 at Memorial Gardens.
Philip Tomasino and Andrew Bruder each had one goal and one assist for Niagara, which got its other goal from Jake Uberti. Goaltender Tucker Tynan made 33 saves for the IceDogs, 9-12-4 for 22 points, third in the division.
“It was a great win for our group,” said assistant coach Adam Dennis of the Battalion, which has beaten Niagara twice, including an 8-2 rout Oct. 12 at St. Catharines. “From the goalie out, we put a full team effort together, and it’s nice when you can be rewarded for it.
“Vrbetic does a lot for us. He made a flurry of saves to begin the game and, when you have a young group, you need that out of your goalie. It settles you down, and it’s nice when you can look back and you have a guy like that back there who’s holding the fort for you. He’s getting stronger every game.”
The teams were tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, but the Troops dominated the third period, outshooting Niagara 12-8 on the way to ending a two-game skid. The IceDogs killed a two-man disadvantage lasting 46 seconds before Chenier capitalized on the second penalty, a delay-of-game call against Tynan for dislodging the net. Chenier buried his own rebound at 5:46 from deep in the right-wing circle.
Moncada gave the Troops a two-goal lead when he drove to the left side on a two-on-one rush to convert a Brandon Coe pass. Simon Rose also assisted on Moncada’s 11th goal of the season, which tied Chenier and Struthers for the team lead.
Tynan left for a sixth skater before Uberti pulled Niagara within a goal at 17:35, sweeping an Akil Thomas rebound home from deep in the left circle.
The game started ominously for North Bay when Paul Christopoulos was assessed a match penalty for slew-footing 54 seconds into the first period. The Battalion dressed 17 skaters, one under the limit, and Christopoulos’s banishment ended a plan to deploy defenceman James Mayotte at left wing.
But penalty killer Struthers stripped the puck from a fumbling Adrien Beraldo at the Battalion blue line and broke away on Tynan, who made an initial save before Struthers took two more whacks at the puck to put it into the net at 1:35.
Tomasino replied with his team-high 14th goal at 6:11 through a scrum after Vrbetic stopped Jackson Doherty’s drive from the left wing, and Bruder made it 2-1 at 10:09, cashing Lucas Theriault’s rebound.
The Battalion, outshot 12-9 in the frame, had two power plays. The Troops’ best opportunity with the man advantage came in the 18th minute, when Chenier and Moncada each had chances at the goalmouth after Coe lofted the disc from the right wing. Coe tested Tynan in the 11th minute, making a strong move off the left wing.
Vrbetic produced two good saves on drives by Kyen Sopa, and Pacey Schlueting poked the puck away from Thomas as he steamed toward the net in the sixth minute.
Grima tied it at 3:28 of the second period off a faceoff, threading the puck through traffic. Liam Arnsby won the draw back to defenceman Grima for his first goal since an Oct. 7 trade from the Sarnia Sting.
The Battalion visits the Peterborough Petes at 7:05 p.m. Thursday to open a three-game road trip. The game at Peterborough can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: Special Olympics Day saw athletes, families and supporters in attendance. Fans, one of whom won an autographed Battalion sweater, took part in a bucket fundraiser that generated more than $2,454. An information kiosk was set up in the main concourse … The OHL has joined with Ascend Fundraising Solutions to donate proceeds of a league-wide 50-50 raffle to Special Olympics Ontario. Fans can visit specialolympics5050.com throughout November to buy a ticket for the chance to win a guaranteed minimum prize of $5,000. The inaugural winner will be drawn on Monday, Dec. 2 … In 228 games, Chenier has 65 goals and 69 assists for 134 points, one more than Scott Tanski and 23rd on the franchise’s all-time list … The Battalion went 1-for-6 on the power play. Niagara was 0-for-3 … Opening lines included Moncada centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe, Struthers centring left winger Kyle Jackson and Arnsby on right wing and Cameron Peters pivoting left winger Josh Currie and Harrison Caines on right wing. Right winger Alex Christopoulos had various linemates … The Battalion was without Niki Korpialho, Mason Primeau and Mitchell Russell … The North Bay date for the Wawanesa Toy Drive is Sunday, Dec. 15, when the Owen Sound Attack visits. Wawanesa also has worked with its broker partners to provide fans with toy drive drop-off locations.