Troops’ rally falls short

KINGSTON, Ont. — Zayde Wisdom’s power-play goal 16 seconds into the third period proved the winner as the Kingston Frontenacs survived a late North Bay Battalion rally and secured a 4-3 victory in an Ontario Hockey League game Friday night.

Dawson Baker, Francesco Arcuri and Vitali Pinchuk scored a goal apiece for Kingston, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 17-28-4 for 38 points, fifth and last in the East Division. Goaltender Ryan Dugas faced 22 shots as the Frontenacs won a third consecutive game before 2,567 at the Leon’s Centre.

Luke Moncada had one goal and one assist for North Bay, which also got goals from Harrison Caines and Shane Bulitka. Goaltender Joe Vrbetic made 29 saves for the Battalion, which incurred a sixth straight loss and is 11-37-2 for 24 points, fifth and last in the Central Division. The Troops played the second game of a three-game road trip after losing 8-3 Thursday night to the Peterborough Petes.

Wisdom scored his 23rd goal of the season, converting a cross-crease pass at the left lip, to give Kingston a 4-1 lead before Caines responded at 4:48 of the final frame. Chad Denault and Josh Currie combined to battle down the right side, and Currie fed the puck to the goalmouth for a redirection by Caines.

Caines was assessed a spurious match penalty for slew-footing at 7:55 and, after an offsetting high-sticking call against Pinchuk, the Troops killed a two-man disadvantage lasting 1:43 after Liam Arnsby went off for roughing.

With Kingston’s Jordan Frasca in the box for roughing, Bulitka poked the puck over the goal line at 14:18 to pull the Battalion within a goal, as Moncada and Brandon Coe assisted. It was Bulitka’s 20th goal of the season and his fourth since a Jan. 9 trade from the Sudbury Wolves.

North Bay pressed the issue in the final minutes but failed to get the equalizer, as Vrbetic made three attempts to leave the ice for a sixth skater before finally hitting the bench.

Baker struck first at 13:21 of the opening period, taking a pass from behind the goal line from Frasca and snapping the puck high to the blocker side from the right circle. Maddox Callens also assisted on Baker’s 16th goal.

Arcuri scored at 15:44, catching up to a puck lobbed down the ice by Nick Wong and, when Vrbetic hesitated on a pokecheck attempt, going to a forehand deke for a sixth goal on the season.

Pinchuk, a rookie Belarusian import, connected on the power play for his seventh goal at 10:54 of the second period, cashing a Jake Murray rebound from deep in the right circle. Lucas Peric also assisted.

Vrbetic stymied Pinchuk on a breakaway and, shortly afterwards, Moncada was credited with a goal at 16:08, flipping the puck high toward the net and seeing it sail under the crossbar as Jakob Brahaney leaped in an effort to glove it away only to direct it into the mesh. Moncada’s team-leading 28th goal was unassisted.

Shane Wright, who with Martin Chromiak assisted on Wisdom’s goal when play resumed after the intermission, drilled a rebound past Vrbetic on the power play as time expired in the frame. Referee Ryan Jenken, who worked with Jason Faist, went to video review, with the decision being no goal.

The Battalion’s Nick Grima took a Dustin Hutton shot to the face in the first period and Paul Christopoulos was struck high by a Wright drive in the second, but both returned quickly to action. Grima then took Baker’s stick to the face as the final buzzer sounded.

The Battalion completes the trip by visiting the Ottawa 67’s at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: It was the teams’ third game of the season, after Kingston won 4-3 at home Nov. 29 and 6-3 at Memorial Gardens last Sunday. The final meeting is March 5 at North Bay … The Battalion went 1-for-3 on the power play. Kingston was 2-for-9 … Moncada has a five-game points streak in which he has four goals and four assists for eight points. In three games against Kingston, Moncada has three goals and as many assists for six points … Coe has a five-game points streak during which he has one goal and six assists for seven points … The Troops bused to Kingston after the game at Peterborough … The Battalion’s last win was a 4-2 decision Jan. 24 at Sudbury … Opening lines featured Moncada centring Bulitka on left wing and right winger Coe, Arnsby centring left winger Kyle Jackson and right winger Mitchell Russell and Christian Stevens pivoting left winger David Campbell and right winger Alex Christopoulos. Currie centred left winger Caines and right winger Denault … The Battalion again was without Avery Winslow, Mason Primeau and Braden Henderson … Chromiak has a four-game points streak in which he has two goals and six assists for eight points … Wright has a four-game points streak during which he has five goals and two assists for seven points … In three games against North Bay, Wisdom has three goals and two assists for five points.

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