Guelph storms to win

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Liam Hawel and Cedric Ralph scored second-period goals 23 seconds apart to break a tie and spark the Guelph Storm to a 6-2 victory over the North Bay Battalion in a chippy Ontario Hockey League game Sunday.

Alexey Toropchenko had two goals and one assist and Barret Kirwin and Isaac Ratcliffe also scored for Guelph, while goaltender Anthony Popovich contributed 34 saves. The Storm, which was drubbed 8-2 Saturday night by the host Barrie Colts, improved its won-lost-extended record to 13-6-6 for 32 points, second in the Midwest Division.

Brad Chenier had one goal and one assist and Justin Brazeau the other goal for North Bay, which ended a losing skid at four games with a 5-2 road win Friday night over the Mississauga Steelheads. Goaltender Christian Propp faced 28 shots before 2,279 on GoodLife Fitness Day. The Battalion is 11-12-2 for 24 points, fifth in the Central Division.

In 25 games, Brazeau, who’s leading the OHL scoring race, has 23 goals and 24 assists for 47 points, one more than Kevin Hancock of the Owen Sound Attack and Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Mason Primeau, acquired in a Nov. 15 trade with Guelph, had plenty of interaction with his onetime teammates, including a post-whistle session with Ratcliffe at the Battalion net late in the first period. Primeau was assessed crosschecking and roughing minors and a misconduct, while Ratcliffe drew a roughing call and misconduct.

Primeau received an earlier crosschecking minor and, in the third period, went off with Ryan Merkley, each assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“It was a pretty good weekend,” said Battalion assistant coach Adam Dennis. “We had a good effort. We’ll agree to disagree on some of the decisions made by the officials, but that’s hockey. We can’t control that. We had some chances we couldn’t put away, and their goalie made more saves than ours.”

Hawel gave Guelph a 3-2 lead with what proved to be the winning goal on the power play at 7:17 of the middle period, finishing off a three-way passing play by steering a Nate Schnarr feed high over Propp’s glove. Ralph, his back to the net, then tipped home a shot by Dmitri Samorukov, who had three assists.

Ratcliffe beat Nick King for the puck in the neutral zone, moved down the right wing and snapped the disc under Propp’s right pad at 12:28 of the third period before Toropchenko finished the scoring at 18:54, sweeping a Samorukov setup into an open net from the right side. Ralph also assisted, for a two-point game.

The Troops, who outshot Guelph 12-8 in the frame, had several chances on the power play earlier in the period, but Popovich foiled Brazeau, Primeau and Luke Moncada.

Toropchenko opened the scoring at 7:43 of the first period, a second after an interference penalty to Theo Calvas expired, but Chenier responded one minute later. Adam McMaster recovered the puck off a faceoff to Popovich’s right and lofted a backhander that Chenier knocked out of the air for his 11th goal of the season.

Guelph regained the lead at 13:35 when Kirwin banged home a Samorukov rebound, and the Troops scored a similar goal to tie it again at 14:40. Popovich bobbled Chenier’s drive, and McMaster dug for the rebound, which slid to Brazeau on the left side for the conversion.

The Battalion opens a three-game road trip, constituting the first half of six straight away games, against the Peterborough Petes at 7:05 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: Conducting the ceremonial faceoff were Ally Tynan of GoodLife Fitness and Ontario finance minister Vic Fedeli, who served two terms as mayor of North Bay starting in 2003 … Primeau faced his former teammates for the first time. He has two goals and two assists for four points in six games with the Battalion … Chenier has three goals and four assists for seven points in the last three games … McMaster has one goal and four assists for five points in the last two games … North Bay was 0-for-4 on the power play. Guelph went 1-for-4 … Opening lines featured McMaster centring left winger Chenier and right winger Brazeau, Primeau centring left winger Harrison Caines and right winger Brandon Coe and Patrick Brown pivoting Moncada on left wing and right winger Kurtis Evans. Centre Rhys Forhan and Payton Vescio, normally a defenceman, on right wing had various linemates … The Battalion, which had seven on the blue line, scratched Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker, Matthew Struthers and Cameron Peters … Struthers completed a four-game suspension for a match penalty for kicking in a 7-1 loss Nov. 16 to the visiting Sudbury Wolves. Walker has one game left in a five-game suspension from the same game … Among the missing for Guelph, which dressed 17 skaters, one below the limit, was Cam Hillis … The referees were Brent Coulombe and Josh Schein.

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