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New-look Petes up next

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion, with five games left on its Ontario Hockey League schedule, plays host to the revamped Peterborough Petes at 7 p.m. Thursday to open what counts as a relatively light week.

North Bay, which has won six consecutive games, posting shutouts in four of the last five, boasts a won-lost-extended record of 43-17-3 for 89 points, first in the Central Division and second in the Eastern Conference behind the Ottawa 67’s.

Peterborough, which defeated the visiting Mississauga Steelheads 5-2 Tuesday night, is 33-25-4 for 70 points, tied for second place in the East Division and fourth in the conference with the Hamilton Bulldogs before their visit Wednesday night to the Sarnia Sting.

The Battalion, which entertains the Sudbury Wolves on Sunday, has only two games this week, the fewest since playing a pair in the seven days ended Feb. 12.

“We see this team as a pretty dangerous hockey team,” coach Ryan Oulahen said Wednesday of the Petes. “They’ve changed their roster a lot since we’ve seen them. We see them as one of the top teams in the conference when it’s all said and done, a lot of offensive weapons.”

Since the teams’ last meeting, a 3-0 Battalion win Dec. 3 at Peterborough, the Petes have added the likes of Avery Hayes, Owen Beck and Gavin White while trading away such as Nick Lardis, Sahil Panwar and Jack Van Volsen.

Oulahen suggested that Justin Ertel should be back in the North Bay lineup after missing 22 games with an upper-body injury.

“He was really close last week, and I think what I’ve seen out of him is the extra week really helps,” said Oulahen, whose Troops are at No. 10 in the Canadian Hockey League’s Top-10 ranking.

“He’s been extremely impressive in practice. It’s important for him to come in and be up to game speed already, and that’s what he’s looked like this week compared to last week, so I’m glad he’s waited until now to make his return.”

Each of goaltenders Charlie Robertson and Dom DiVincentiis has one shutout in the last two games and two in the last five, Robertson blanking the host Oshawa Generals 3-0 last Friday night and DiVincentiis whitewashing the visiting London Knights 4-0 Sunday in earning a second straight nod as the OHL’s Goaltender of the Week.

Ty Nelson, meanwhile, continued his assault on the franchise record book with two assists against London and now holds the Battalion’s single-season and career records for defencemen in goals, assists and points since relocation to North Bay from Brampton in 2013.

In 63 games, Nelson has 22 goals and 48 assists for 70 points. The second-place numbers in North Bay are 19 goals by Brenden Miller in 2014-15, 46 assists by Cam Dineen in 2015-16 and 59 points by Dineen that season.

Career numbers from 129 games have Nelson with 31 goals, 90 assists and 121 points. The post-relocation second-place numbers are 30 goals, 79 assists and 109 points, all by Dineen culminating in 2017-18.

The Peterborough game features Kenny U-Pull Night. The company has 25 auto recycling yards across Canada, including the North Bay operation on Birchs Road.

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