Troops shut out Kingston

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Luke Burghardt scored two goals and added an assist and goaltender Christian Propp made 26 saves for the shutout as the North Bay Battalion downed the Kingston Frontenacs 4-0 in Ontario Hockey League play Sunday.

Justin Brazeau and Simon Rose each had one goal and one assist and Matthew Struthers contributed four assists before a Memorial Gardens crowd of 2,420 as North Bay improved its won-lost-extended record to 23-22-3 for 49 points. The Battalion is fourth in the Central Division, one point behind the Mississauga Steelheads, who lost 2-1 at home to the Sudbury Wolves.

Goaltender Brendan Bonello faced 43 shots for Kingston, 12-35-1 for 25 points, fifth in the East Division. The Frontenacs, who defeated the visiting Battalion 2-1 on Jan. 13 for their only win since a 6-1 home-ice decision Dec. 28 over the Peterborough Petes, have lost their last five games and are 1-12-0 in their last 13.

Both teams were coming off shutout losses, Kingston a 4-0 road setback Saturday night to the Barrie Colts and the Battalion a 7-0 home-ice defeat Thursday night against Sudbury.

“It was a must-win game for us,” said Battalion assistant coach Adam Dennis. ”The standings are so bunched up, and it was a game we had to show up for. If you look at our season, it’s been a roller coaster, to say the least. So to be able to stop the bleeding and have a good bounceback win after a loss is crucial.”

Dennis praised the play of Propp, who recorded his second shutout of the season and the fourth of his OHL career. “We gave him a little lighter workload today, and he was solid. I was happy for him to get the shutout.”

Brazeau opened the scoring at 8:41 of the first period as he muscled his way out of the clutches of Evan Brand and Emmett Gordon to backhand the rebound of a right-point shot by Rose into an open net. Struthers had the other assist on Brazeau’s team-leading 43rd goal of the season.

Burghardt made it 2-0 at 17:51, arriving in the high slot to deposit a short back pass from Struthers behind Bonello. Brazeau, who got to the puck to preclude icing, also earned an assist.

Burghardt took a stretch pass from Struthers and split the defence at the blue line for a breakaway, scoring at 1:43 of the second period when Bonello failed to keep a backhander from slipping between his pads. Burghardt, who collected his third goal on the campaign, enjoyed his first multigoal game since scoring twice in a 6-3 home-ice win over the London Knights on Jan. 8, 2018.

“He’s a guy that’s had some chances in the last little while,” Dennis said of Burghardt. “He’s a really important piece for us, so for him to get the monkey off his back is big, and to see him get two is nice.”

The Troops thought they’d scored at 2:50 when Pacey Schlueting swatted at the rebound of a Luke Moncada shot that deflected off Gordon into the net. Referee Brent Coulombe waved off the would-be goal after the video goal judge deemed that Patrick Brown entered the zone offside.

Rose struck on the power play at 15:45, advancing deep on the left wing to bury a cross-ice pass from Burghardt that gave Bonello no chance. Struthers also assisted on the second goal for defenceman Rose, who sat out the previous 10 games with an injury.

North Bay forged a 17-7 edge in shots in the period. Propp turned away chances for Tyler Burnie and Ryan Cranford, while the Battalion’s Braden Henderson rang the puck off the left post in the eighth minute.

In the scoreless third period, Bonello proved sharp against efforts by Daniel Walker, Nick King, Mason Primeau and Brandon Coe among the Battalion’s 17 shots. Propp wasn’t severely tested by any of Kingston’s nine shots.

The Battalion plays host to the Windsor Spitfires at 7 p.m. Thursday on Bruce Power Night.

BATTALION BULLETS: YourTV’s Hockey Day in the OHL saw 1,000 fans receive a rally towel. Prizes included an autographed Battalion sweater and an inflatable lounger … More than 200 players and family members from West Ferris Minor Hockey attended the game … The teams completed their season series, with North Bay going 2-2-0. The Battalion has an all-time won-lost-tied record against Kingston of 36-38-2 … Brazeau registered the 16th game-winning goal of his OHL career, tying Ryan Oulahen for fourth place in franchise history. In four games against Kingston, Brazeau had seven goals and five assists for 12 points … Struthers had two goals and 12 assists for 14 points in four games against the Frontenacs … The Battalion went 1-for-3 on the power play. Kingston was 0-for-3 … Opening lines featured Struthers centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Primeau pivoting left winger Harrison Caines and right winger Coe and Moncada centring left winger Walker and Mitchell Russell on right wing. Cameron Peters centred Schlueting, normally a defenceman, on left wing and Brown on right wing … The Battalion was without Travis Mailhot, Kurtis Evans and Brad Chenier, who suffered an injury against Sudbury … Kingston’s Ian Martin marked his 18th birthday … Among the missing for Kingston was Matt Hotchkiss … Drew Jackson was the other referee.

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