Troops win seventh straight
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Kyle McDonald’s second goal of the game, at 12:26 of the third period, broke a tie and sent the North Bay Battalion to a 5-3 comeback victory Thursday night over the Peterborough Petes, extending the Troops’ Ontario Hockey League winning streak to seven games.
Owen Van Steensel added an empty-net goal and an assist, and Kyle Jackson and Liam Arnsby also scored for North Bay, which got 34 saves from goaltender Dom DiVincentiis in another stellar performance before a crowd of 3,036 to sweep the four-game season series.
The Battalion, which trailed 2-1 after the first period, boasts a won-lost-extended record of 44-17-3 for 91 points atop the Central Division, second in the Eastern Conference and the league.
The 44 wins are a record in the North Bay era dating to the 2013-14 season, surpassing the mark of 43 set last year. The only higher total is 47 wins in 2008-09 in Brampton, while the Battalion also won 44 games in 2005-06.
The Troops were without Matvey Petrov, who was seeing to personal matters, while Justin Ertel and Luc Brzustowski returned to the lineup, Ertel after missing 22 games with an upper-body injury and Brzustowski after sitting out two with a sore back.
Owen Beck had one goal and one assist and Tucker Robertson and Konnor Smith the other goals for Peterborough. Goaltender Michael Simpson provided 37 saves. The Petes are 33-26-4 for 70 points, tied with the Hamilton Bulldogs for second place in the East Division and fourth in the conference.
After the teams battled to a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes, McDonald scored off a pass from behind the net from Josh Bloom, who had two assists. Pasquale Zito, who also had a pair of assists, and Bloom won the puck along the end boards, and McDonald quickly converted the setup for his team-leading 33rd goal of the season.
DiVincentiis covered up against a backhanded Beck threat on a cruise across the crease at 15:28 before Van Steensel, with Simpson gone for a sixth skater, chased down a puck on the left wing and went to the net to tuck it inside the gaping cage at 19:49. Nikita Tarasevich had the lone assist on Van Steensel’s ninth goal.
Jackson opened the scoring with his 31st goal at 7:43 of the first period after Bloom charged down the left wing. Jackson took a centring pass in the goalmouth and put the puck past Simpson’s catching glove.
Beck replied at 17:07, staging a give-and-go with Avery Hayes through the slot and chipping the puck home. Samuel Mayer also assisted on Beck’s 23rd goal, his sixth since a trade from the Mississauga Steelheads.
The goal ended a North Bay shutout streak at 151:14. The Battalion had posted two straight shutouts, with Charlie Robertson blanking the host Oshawa Generals 3-0 last Friday night and DiVincentiis whitewashing the visiting London Knights 4-0 Sunday. The previous goal against the Troops was Antonio Tersigni’s at 5:53 of the third period of the Owen Sound Attack’s 4-1 loss to DiVincentiis at Memorial Gardens on March 8.
Robertson connected on the power play at 18:43, jamming at the rebound of a blue line drive by Mayer. Connor Lockhart also assisted on Robertson’s team-leading 36th goal.
The Battalion responded with a pair of goals three minutes apart in the second frame, sparked by Arnsby at 8:10. Van Steensel grabbed the puck from a scrum along the left boards and fed it in front, where Arnsby made enough contact for his 12th goal.
McDonald then put North Bay ahead 3-2, snapping the disc past Simpson high to the blocker side from the top of the left circle. Zito had the assist. Defenceman Smith tied it at 13:20 on a lob from the left point that was deflected twice on its way to the net.
The Battalion plays host to the Sudbury Wolves at 2 p.m. Sunday on CAA Day.
BATTALION BULLETS: The game was played on Kenny U-Pull Night. The company has 25 auto recycling yards across Canada, including in North Bay on Birchs Road, offering customers the opportunity to create their own self-service experience … In the season series, the visiting Battalion won 3-1 on Oct. 6 before another 3-1 decision in its home opener Oct. 13. The Troops prevailed 3-0 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on Dec. 3 as DiVincentiis made 38 saves … DiVincentiis and Simpson rank first and second respectively in the OHL in both goals-against average and save percentage. DiVincentiis has marks of 2.38 and .918, while Simpson is at 2.70 and .914 … McDonald has a seven-game points streak in which he has seven goals and two assists for nine points … Tarasevich has a five-game points streak during which he has two goals and three assists for five points … In four games against Peterborough, Jackson had three goals and two assists for five points … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Peterborough was 1-for-1 … Apart from Petrov, the Battalion was without Tnias Mathurin, Jacob Therrien, Brayden Turley and Brett Bouchard … Among Peterborough’s scratches were Shawn Spearing and Jax Dubois … Hayes has a six-game points streak in which he has five goals and six assists for 11 points … Ryan Elbers and Ryan Harrison were the referees.