Troops turn back Barrie

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Justin Brazeau scored three goals as the North Bay Battalion defeated the Barrie Colts 6-2 Tuesday night to take a firmer grip on a playoff berth in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.

Mason Primeau scored two goals and Brad Chenier had one goal and two assists as North Bay improved its won-lost-extended record to 28-32-5 for 61 points, fourth in the Central Division and eighth in the conference, five points ahead of Barrie, which is fifth in the division and ninth in the conference with three games left to play. The top eight teams qualify for the postseason.

Goaltender Christian Propp made 17 saves for the Battalion, which also has three games left on the schedule, before a crowd of 2,430. The game was rescheduled from last Thursday night, when Memorial Gardens was closed because of excessive snow and ice on the roof.

Brazeau, who has a franchise-record 58 goals and 47 assists for 105 points in 65 games, is the first North Bay player to record 100 or more points in an OHL season since Trevor Gallant of the North Bay Centennials generated 105 points in 1995-96. Brazeau is tied for the league lead in goals with Tye Felhaber of the Ottawa 67’s.

Tyler Tucker and Tyson Foerster scored for Barrie, which suffered a third straight loss and is 26-35-4. Starting goaltender Kai Edmonds gave up five goals on 22 shots before being relieved by Jet Greaves, who surrendered one goal on 12 shots.

“We came out really strong,” said Battalion assistant coach Scott Wray. “We played 40 minutes of our best hockey this year, and we needed to in a game like this.”

North Bay jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period, sparked by Primeau at 1:22. The Battalion moved the puck forward from a left-wing faceoff, and Luke Burghardt, with his first of two assists, fed it crisply to Primeau in the goalmouth for a quick conversion. Mitchell Russell had the other assist.

Brazeau struck at 10:59 after Chenier worked the puck to the front of the net. Brazeau jammed his own rebound past Edmonds on the blocker side.

Brazeau capitalized on the power play for what proved to be the winner 1:23 later, arriving at the right side of the net to pop the puck home on assists by Chenier and Matthew Struthers, who was credited with his first of three assists. Brazeau has 18 career game-winning goals, tied with Wojtek Wolski for third place in franchise history.

The goal prompted Barrie coach Dale Hawerchuk to call a timeout to settle his charges, and they responded with Tucker’s goal at 17:37. Defenceman Tucker sent the puck low through traffic just inside the left post from the shallow left point. It was his 13th goal, assisted by Dalton Duhart and Riley Piercey.

Chenier connected with the man advantage at 6:07 of the second period, 37 seconds after Matthew Hill was assessed a double minor for high-sticking. Chenier, netting his 27th goal, shoved the puck under the seated Edmonds on assists by Struthers and Nick King, who also assisted on Brazeau’s first goal.

Primeau swooped into the mid slot and wired the puck home at 15:28, chasing Edmonds from the game. The puck appeared to deflect off defender Matthew Sredl’s stick as Primeau collected his 13th goal on the season, his 10th since a trade from the Guelph Storm.

Brazeau scored on the power play at 19:00, shoveling the puck across the goal line after a pass from deep on the left wing by Struthers. Burghardt had the other assist.

Foerster scored on the power play at 11:25 of the third period, cashing the rebound of a Jason Willms shot on a play at the left side of the crease that gave Propp no chance. Ben Hawerchuk also assisted.

The Battalion plays host to the Hamilton Bulldogs, who are two points ahead of the Troops with two games to play, at 7 p.m. Thursday on Centennials Alumni Night.

BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion went 5-1-0 against Barrie. The Troops haven’t had a losing season against the Colts since 2009-10 when Brampton was 0-5-1 … In 265 games, Brazeau has 125 goals and 105 assists for 230 points, one more than Barclay Goodrow and third in franchise history. In six games against Barrie, Brazeau had 11 goals and two assists for 13 points … Struthers has a six-game points streak in which he has three goals and eight assists for 11 points. In 88 games with North Bay since a Jan. 3, 2018, trade from the Owen Sound Attack, Struthers has 43 goals and 60 assists for 103 points. In six games against Barrie this season, he had two goals and nine assists for 11 points … In 105 games with the Troops, Burghardt has 36 goals and 64 assists for 100 points. He was acquired with Luke Moncada from Guelph on June 27, 2017 … The Battalion went 3-for-6 on the power play. Barrie was 1-for-6 … The Battalion was without Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker and Kurtis Evans … Walker completed a two-game suspension for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of a 7-1 loss last Friday night to the host Oshawa Generals … Barrie, which dressed 17 skaters, one below the limit, was without Jack York, Jacob Tortora and Matej Pekar … Tucker has an eight-game points streak in which he has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points … The referees were Darcy Burchell and Ryan Harrison.

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