Troops win in overtime

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Adam McMaster scored at 3:44 of overtime to give the North Bay Battalion a 4-3 victory Friday night over the Niagara IceDogs in the opener of an Ontario Hockey League home-and-home series.

Daniel Walker had one goal and one assist and Patrick Brown and Simon Rose also scored for North Bay, which won for the first time in three games to improve its won-lost-extended record to 9-8-1 for 19 points, tied for fourth place in the Central Division with the Barrie Colts, who lost 4-3 to the host Guelph Storm. Goaltender Christian Propp faced 39 shots.

Philip Tomasino and Bradey Johnson each contributed one goal and one assist for Niagara, which got its other goal from Matthew Philip. Goaltender Stephen Dhillon also faced 39 shots before 5,148 at the Meridian Centre.

Niagara is 10-5-3 for 23 points, first in the division, one point ahead of the Mississauga Steelheads and the Sudbury Wolves.

The IceDogs had the best chances early in overtime, but Johnson couldn’t finish off a three-on-one rush and, seconds after Propp foiled Ivan Lodnia in close, McMaster skated into the high slot in the offensive zone, waited for Johnathon Schaefer to commit and beat Dhillon low to the glove side. Brad Chenier earned the lone assist on McMaster’s seventh goal of the season.

The Battalion emerged from a fast-paced first period with a 1-0 lead after Brown connected at 2:30. Justin Brazeau occupied two defenders and slid the puck to Brown, who rushed in alone on Dhillon to score to the stick side. The goal, also assisted by Harrison Caines, was Brown’s first since a 6-3 win at Niagara last Dec. 15.

Propp’s biggest save in the frame came in the 15th minute when he stretched to deny Lodnia’s breakaway attempt. Propp turned away consecutive chances in close for Ben Jones in the sixth minute and foiled Elijah Roberts, Jake Uberti and Andrew Bruder.

Tomasino tied it at 1:13 of the second period when he found a loose puck between the circles and beat Propp low to the glove side.

Rose put the Battalion back in front at 5:18, firing the puck into an open net from deep in the left-wing circle as a sprawling Dhillon arrived too late. Brazeau and Walker assisted on second-year defenceman Rose’s first OHL goal. Brazeau’s two assists gave the OHL scoring leader 38 points, on 19 goals and as many assists, in 18 games.

Philip struck on the power play at 9:31, flipping a backhander behind Propp from the right edge of the crease, before Walker restored North Bay’s lead at 12:48, taking a breakaway pass from Luke Moncada down the left wing and firing a low wrister under Dhillon’s glove. Theo Calvas drew the other assist on Walker’s fourth goal.

Johnson tied it 3-3 at 14:41, banging home a rebound from a scrum for his fifth goal.

Brazeau had a great opportunity to put the Troops back in front in the 18th minute but hit the crossbar on a breakaway.

Both teams had chances in the scoreless third period. Propp was busy early as North Bay killed off a two-man disadvantage lasting 1:25. Kyen Sopa couldn’t convert into an open net off a Tomasino feed in the 10th minute, and Propp blocked a drive off the left wing by Roberts. Tomasino also missed alone in front in the 15th minute. Dhillon denied Brandon Coe from the slot, found a Rose drive from the blue line through traffic and stymied chances for Moncada and Walker.

The Battalion plays host to Niagara at 7 p.m. Saturday to complete the home-and-home series as the Troops honour military veterans on Remembrance Night on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

BATTALION BULLETS: Brazeau has 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in the last nine games. He saw the end of an eight-game goals streak, the longest in the league this season … The Battalion went 0-for-1 on the power play. Niagara was 1-for-4 … Opening lines featured Matthew Struthers centring left winger Walker and right winger Brazeau, McMaster pivoting left winger Chenier and right winger Coe and Moncada centring Cameron Peters on left wing and Egor Postnov on right wing. Centre Brown and left winger Caines had varied linemates … The Battalion, which dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, was without Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan, Kurtis Evans and Payton Vescio, who suffered an upper-body injury at practice Wednesday … Centre Akil Thomas, Niagara’s leading scorer, is sidelined with a shoulder injury that may be season-ending. He has eight goals and 19 assists for 27 points in 17 games … Right winger Kirill Maksimov, who leads the IceDogs with 11 goals, is with the Russian team in the CIBC Canada Russia Series … Niagara defenceman Lleyton Moore, a first-round pick in the OHL Priority Selection last April, is with Canada White at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B. Moore, taken 12th overall from the Toronto Marlboros minor midgets, has one goal and six assists for seven points in 15 games … Jones has two goals and two assists in the last four games.

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