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Troops end losing streak

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The outcome was in doubt until the final buzzer, but the North Bay Battalion’s franchise-record 11-game losing streak is history.

Harrison Caines scored at 18:29 of the third period to lift North Bay to a 5-4 victory Sunday over the Barrie Colts, the Battalion’s first win since a 7-5 verdict Oct. 14 against the visiting Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Brad Chenier had one goal and one assist, and Luke Moncada, Kyle Jackson and Josh Currie also scored for the Battalion, which led 4-1 in the second period, as goaltender Joe Vrbetic made 33 saves before a crowd of 1,889. North Bay has a won-lost-extended record of 4-17-0 for eight points, fifth and last in the Ontario Hockey League’s Central Division.

Victor Hadfield, Jason Willms and Tyler Tucker each registered one goal and one assist for Barrie, which got its other goal from Riley Piercey. Goaltender Jet Greaves faced 41 shots for the Colts, 12-7-1 for 25 points, second in the division.

Warren Rychel, former general manager of the Windsor Spitfires, assumed interim coaching duties with Barrie this season as Dale Hawerchuk battles stomach cancer.

Trailing 4-2 through 40 minutes, Barrie tied it on goals by Piercey at 2:12 of the final frame and Tucker at 15:01. Piercey redirected Jack York’s left-point drive off a faceoff, and defenceman Tucker ripped the rubber home from the edge of the left-wing circle on a rush with Hadfield, who had the lone assist.

Between the goals, the Colts were unable to capitalize on penalties to Ryan Thompson and Currie and the Troops’ power-play couldn’t connect while Piercey served a tripping minor.

Liam Arnsby set up the winner with his second assist, crossing into the right circle and putting the puck to the net, where a sliding Cameron Peters got his stick on it before Caines shoveled it under Greaves. The goal, Caines’s fourth of the season, survived a Rychel challenge for goaltender interference.

Greaves departed for a sixth attacker with 1:18 left, and seconds later Vrbetic produced a big save, blocking a Matej Pekar drive from the left circle.

The Troops struck first, at 1:10 of the opening period, when Moncada went to the net and fired a Chenier pass high over Greaves’s blocker. The goal was Moncada’s 10th of the season, tying Matthew Struthers for the team lead.

Jackson scored his fourth goal at 3:49 when his high shot eluded Greaves, who was screened by Mason Primeau. Struthers drew the lone assist.

Penalty killer Hadfield replied at 12:26 as he barreled around Nick Grima to the net and flicked the puck past Vrbetic’s blocker, and the Battalion converted with the man advantage at 19:05. Brandon Coe missed on a close-range effort, but Primeau retrieved the puck behind the net and sent it to Chenier, who jammed it home for his ninth goal.

Currie collected his first OHL goal at 12:09 of the second period. Arnsby intercepted a clearing attempt along the right boards and slid the puck to the goalmouth, where Currie got behind Matthew Sredl and slipped the disc past Greaves.

The Troops appeared to have scored on the power play at 13:40 when Coe batted the puck out of the air at the lip of the crease. Referee Josh Schein signaled a goal, but video review resulted in the ruling that Coe played the puck with a high stick.

Barrie besieged Vrbetic for an extended time before Willms scored at 16:57, steering a Tyson Foerster drive past the goaltender.

Battalion defenceman Paul Christopoulos served the first game of a two-game suspension for shooting the puck into the stands in a 5-1 home-ice loss Thursday night to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Battalion plays host to the Oshawa Generals at 7 p.m. Thursday on My Team Cares Night in support of the North Bay Food Bank.

BATTALION BULLETS: The game was the first at North Bay under expanded video review rules that incorporate overhead cameras above the blue lines and the availability of video tablets to on-ice officials at the penalty box. The changes took effect Friday night … Chenier has a six-game points streak during which he has six goals and three assists for nine points … Coe has a four-game points streak in which he has two goals and four assists for six points … Rookie Currie was a sixth-round pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection from the Don Mills Flyers minor midgets … The Battalion went 1-for-6 on the power play. Barrie was 0-for-4 … Opening lines featured Struthers centring Primeau on left wing and Jackson on right wing, Moncada centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Peters pivoting left winger Niki Korpialho and Caines on right wing. Arnsby centred left winger Currie and right winger Alex Christopoulos … Apart from Paul Christopoulos, the Battalion was without Mitchell Russell … Christopoulos shot the puck out of the playing area after Jan Jenik scored the final goal of the Hamilton game. The action could have been penalized with a suspension of up to five games … Arnsby turns 16 on Wednesday … Luke Bignell, who assisted on Hadfield’s goal, has a four-game points streak in which he has one goal and five assists for six points … Anthony Tapper was the other referee.

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