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Heroes aplenty in victory

KINGSTON, Ont. — There was no scarcity of dynamic performers for the North Bay Battalion as it regained home-ice advantage in its Ontario Hockey League second-round playoff series with the Kingston Frontenacs with a 6-3 comeback victory Tuesday night.

Kyle Jackson scored four goals, tying Justin Brazeau’s single-game franchise playoff scoring record, and Brandon Coe provided four assists to lead the Battalion to a 2-1 lead in games in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal with Game 4 set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Leon’s Centre. The teams meet again Saturday night at North Bay, where they split the first two games.

Third-place Kingston jumped to a 2-0 lead before the second-place Battalion went to work on offence, with rookie Owen Outwater breaking a 3-3 tie at 15:51 of the second period and Mitchell Russell contributing an empty-netter. First-year goaltender Dom DiVincentiis made his first playoff start, evening his won-lost record at 1-1 after he took the loss in relief of Joe Vrbetic in a 5-4 overtime setback Sunday.

“I actually really liked the way we came out,” said coach Ryan Oulahen. “We came out on our toes, real good intention, and then just kind of made one of those mistakes again, and it was quickly in the back of our net.

“At that point we were still feeling good about where we were at and our game overall, so guys were with belief on our bench we weren’t going to get down. There was still a lot of time left. We ended up getting into our rhythm, being a little bit smarter with the puck, and overall after 60 minutes we’re quite pleased with the result.”

Oulahen praised Outwater, who beat Thomas Budnick for the puck at the Battalion blue line, gained control of it in the neutral zone and broke free for his first playoff goal.

“Of course, you’re probably going to see the breakaway and his shot but, if you back it up a little bit more, I just love the whole play there. He’s real hard on his point. He does the right job. He kind of out-competes and battles for a loose puck and uses his speed to go in alone. That’s the ability that he has, and that was a huge goal in the game for us.”

While Outwater recorded his first postseason goal, Jackson continued his torrid showing at Kingston, where he had five goals and three assists for eight points in two regular-season wins in November.

“He’s been so good,” Oulahen said of Jackson, who skated with Russell and Coe. “He clearly loves this building. I think he has nine goals in three games in this building this year, which is pretty impressive. That line has been real good for us all playoffs so far, and they continue to lead the way for us.”

DiVincentiis also came in for plaudits, as he settled the Troops down with timely stops after the early deficit.

“I thought he was solid,” noted Oulahen. “It’s not an easy task to go in and start your first playoff game, especially the way it started there, basically with a little bit of a turnover mistake. But Dom prepares the same way every single game. We’ve said that from the beginning with him. We knew he’d be ready today.”

Russell, who leads the OHL in playoff scoring with nine goals and nine assists for 18 points in seven games, is tied for the lead in goals with Logan Morrison of the Hamilton Bulldogs. In seven games, Coe has 12 assists to top the league and, at plus-12, is tied for first in the plus-minus ratings with Kingston’s Paul Ludwinski.

In 12 career postseason games with the Battalion, Russell has 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points, tied for 13th place in franchise history with Dylan Blujus and Marcus McIvor. In 15 playoff games, Coe has six goals and 12 assists for 18 points, tied for 16th in franchise annals with Raffi Torres, Oulahen, Scott Tanski and Brett McKenzie.

Game 4 can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700.

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