Windsor downs Battalion

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Luke Boka’s goal at 4:14 of the second period proved to be the winner as the Windsor Spitfires snapped a five-game Ontario Hockey League losing streak with a 4-2 victory Thursday night over the North Bay Battalion.

Curtis Douglas, Ben Garagan and Daniel D’Amico also scored for Windsor, which has a won-lost-extended record of 21-26-3 for 45 points, fourth in the West Division. Goaltender Colton Incze made 38 saves as the Spitfires won for the first time since a 5-0 home-ice verdict Jan. 17 over the Erie Otters.

Luke Burghardt scored both goals and Justin Brazeau provided two assists for North Bay, 23-23-3 for 49 points, fourth in the Central Division. Goaltender Christian Purboo faced 37 shots before a Memorial Gardens crowd of 2,181 as the Troops completed a run of five home dates in which they went 2-3-0.

The assists gave Brazeau a total of 207 career points, tying Mike Amadio as the Battalion’s leading scorer in the North Bay era, which started in 2013. In 249 games, Brazeau has 110 goals and 97 assists, for the seventh-highest points total in franchise history.

“Everybody can see the frustrations as a coaching staff when you get a team that we had in the third period and the team that we had in the first period,” said Battalion assistant coach Adam Dennis. “It’s something this group has got to learn. We need to start games better.”

The Troops gave up two goals in each of the first two periods before scoring their two goals in the third.

“We played physical,” Dennis said of the third-period surge. “We kept things simple with the puck. We put pucks behind their defence. We forechecked hard and put pucks to the net. If we can do that for 60 minutes, we have a chance to beat a lot of teams but, if we don’t, then that’s the result.”

Douglas opened the scoring at 12:03 of the first frame, ripping a Jean-Luc Foudy pass behind a screened Purboo on entering the zone, and Garagan connected at 15:41, chopping the rebound of a Kyle McDonald shot past the goaltender’s blocker from the goalmouth.

The Troops, who were assessed the only two penalties in the period, were outshot 17-10. Incze turned away an early effort by Nick King with Brandon Coe unable to get to the rebound, and Pacey Schlueting almost stripped Incze of the puck when he strayed from his net in the ninth minute. Incze stopped good chances for Simon Rose and Daniel Walker late in the period.

Boka banged home the rebound of a Chris Playfair drive before D’Amico was credited with a power-play goal at 9:00 of the second period when Purboo stopped a shot off the right wing and King knocked the puck out of the air into the net.

North Bay tested Incze on several occasions, with its best chance coming in the 19th minute when the goaltender denied a close-range threat from Cameron Peters. Incze made good stops on Brazeau, Matthew Struthers and Mitchell Russell with the Battalion on the power play midway in the period. Struthers also had a late chance from the deep slot.

Burghardt struck at 3:59 of the third period, driving to the net and steering home a Brazeau feed. Luke Moncada drew the second assist.

Burghardt scored again at 10:19, sweeping Brazeau’s rebound past a diving Incze from a sharp angle to the goaltender’s right. Zack Malik had the other assist on Burghardt’s fifth goal of the season.

Incze, who faced 13 shots in the period, made consecutive stops against Burghardt at close range in the seventh minute, turned away two chances for Brazeau and reacted quickly late in the frame to block a Harrison Caines shot and Mason Primeau’s attempt at the rebound.

The Battalion visits the Mississauga Steelheads at 7 p.m. Friday. The game can be heard live on Country 600 CKAT.

BATTALION BULLETS: On Bruce Power Night, in partnership with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, one fan won an autographed Toronto Maple Leafs stick, while another won an iPad … It was the first meeting between the Battalion and Spitfires, who complete their season series Feb. 23 at Windsor … Braden Henderson played his 100th OHL game, his 75th with the Battalion since a Jan. 6, 2018, trade with the Sarnia Sting. The defenceman has one goal and five assists for six points in 48 games this season … Burghardt has four goals and one assist for five points in the last two games … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Windsor was 1-for-5 … North Bay went 6-5-1 in January … With rearguard Payton Vescio having played Wednesday night in the Hamilton Bulldogs’ 6-3 road loss to the Peterborough Petes, the conditional 15th-round OHL Priority Selection pick acquired by the Battalion in a Jan. 10 trade becomes a fourth-rounder in 2022 … Opening lines included Struthers centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Brazeau, Primeau centring left winger Caines and right winger Coe and Moncada pivoting left winger Walker and Russell on right wing. Peters centred Schlueting, usually a defenceman, on left wing and Patrick Brown on right wing … The Battalion was without Travis Mailhot, Kurtis Evans and Brad Chenier … The referees were Mike Marley and Aaron Neely.

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