Northern rivalry on docket
NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion, looking to regain its scoring touch, completes a run of three away games with a visit to the Sudbury Wolves at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday.
North Bay, which posted its second-highest goals total of the Ontario Hockey League season in an 8-2 verdict Saturday night over the Niagara IceDogs, suffered a 4-0 shutout loss Sunday night to the Oshawa Generals.
“We felt like we played a really good road first period, and then maybe we ran out of gas,” coach Ryan Oulahen said Tuesday.
While the Battalion boasts a won-lost-extended record of 32-12-2 for 66 points atop the Central Division, Sudbury is 18-20-6 for 42 points, fourth in the division. But Oulahen is wary of the Troops’ Northern Ontario rivals and their record since Derek MacKenzie took over the bench.
“They’re dealing with a little bit of an injury bug and suspensions as well, but I believe that they are a very good hockey team ever since the coaching change,” noted Oulahen, whose charges entertain the Mississauga Steelheads at 7 p.m. Thursday and the Kingston Frontenacs at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Sudbury is 12-12-4 since MacKenzie succeeded the fired Craig Duncanson and assistant general manager Ken MacKenzie, the incumbent’s father, who went 3-1-1 in an interim capacity.
But the Wolves, missing Quentin Musty with a hand injury and Kocha Delic to what’s said to be a separated shoulder, got word that leading scorer David Goyette has been suspended four games after incurring a head-checking major, fighting major and game misconduct in the third period of a 4-3 loss Saturday night to the host Owen Sound Attack.
The Battalion, which has seen Liam Arnsby and Justin Ertel join Tnias Mathurin, almost a season-long scratch, on the sidelines, will be without Pasquale Zito, who suffered a lower-body injury at Oshawa. Chase MacQueen-Spence from the junior B St. Marys Lincolns is to suit up.
The Troops, who scored a season-high nine goals in a 9-3 home-ice win Nov. 3 over Niagara, got two goals and one assist from each of Kyle McDonald and Kyle Jackson at St. Catharines. Josh Bloom contributed one goal and three assists and Ty Nelson had one goal and two assists, while Ethan Procyszyn and Nikita Tarasevich also scored.
Matvey Petrov, who earned three assists, eclipsed Lukas Havel as the highest-scoring import in franchise history. Havel, a second-round pick in the 1998 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft from the Czech Republic, played the club’s first three seasons in Brampton, culminating in 2000-01. Petrov was the first overall pick in 2020 from Russia.
In 108 career games, he has 60 goals and 95 assists for 155 points, good for 15th place on the club’s all-time list. In 177 games over three seasons culminating in 2000-01, Havel had 60 goals and 93 assists for 153 points.
“He’s such an important piece for our leadership group and somebody that just has an off-the-charts skill set, and brain and hockey IQ,” Oulahen, who spent much time on Zoom talking to the Moscow resident while he played at home in 2020-21, said of Petrov.
“So there’s no shock, when you put all that together, that he’s done what he’s done in a short amount of time.”
General manager Adam Dennis said he’s “thrilled” that Petrov has set the mark.
“I think the impact that he’s had not just on the ice but in the dressing room, in the community, he’s one of the special guys that’s worn this crest, so I think it’s very fitting that he’s the guy that does it. He’s always been a guy that’s so enamoured with team success, too.
“I know that, obviously, they all want the points, but he’s been focused on helping the team win, and I thought that his play of late has been showing that. He’s been blocking shots. His backcheck’s been awesome, and no surprise that the points are coming for us, so just really happy for him.”
Fans of the Battalion, No. 8 in the CHL Top-10 rankings released Tuesday, can see the game at Sudbury live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700.