Battalion barrels over overwhelmed Niagara

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Mathew Santos and Brett McKenzie each scored a shorthanded goal to propel the North Bay Battalion to a 6-1 Ontario Hockey League rout of the Niagara IceDogs on Friday night.

David Sherman, Miles Liberati, Cam Dineen and Kyle Potts scored at even strength and Zach Shankar earned three assists for North Bay, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 11-10-2 for 24 points, fourth in the Central Division.

Goaltender Jake Smith made 28 saves for the Battalion, which won a second straight game in convincing fashion after a 7-1 home-ice verdict Thursday night over the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Brendan Perlini scored for Niagara, which lost for the first time in three games. Starting goaltender Brent Moran gave up four goals on 20 shots before giving way to Stephen Dhillon, who yielded two goals on 13 shots.

Niagara is 12-10-2 for 26 points, tied with the Mississauga Steelheads for second place in the division. The IceDogs are 8-3-1 in their last 12 games and 10-5-1 since starting the season 2-5-1.

Penalty killer Santos opened the scoring at 2:06 of the first period, finishing off a two-on-one rush with Mike Amadio by sending a shot from the left-wing circle fluttering over Moran’s glove. Shankar had the second assist on Santos’s third goal of the season.

Perlini, assisted by Josh Ho-Sang and Ben Jones, tied it at 12:50, eliciting a torrent of stuffed toys from the Christmas-conscious crowd of 4,337 and causing a seven-minute delay while the ice was cleared.

The Battalion blew the game open with four second-period tallies, starting with Sherman’s second goal at 2:16. Shankar sealed the puck at the blue line and lobbed it toward the net, and Sherman got position on defender Vince Dunn to deflect the disc home.

Smith set up the Troops’ second shorthanded goal, at 12:02, when his clearing pass off the glass sent McKenzie off on a left-wing rush which he finished with a snap shot over Moran’s blocker. The goal was McKenzie’s ninth of the season and his third shorthanded score among North Bay’s league-leading 12.

Defenceman Liberati sent Moran to the bench at 16:22, beating him with a wrister from the top of the left circle. Amadio and Daniil Vertiy drew assists on Liberati’s eighth goal.

Defenceman Dineen’s third goal made it 5-1 at 17:41 as he took a feed from Steve Harland, who earned his first OHL assist, and beat Dhillon low to the stick side from the right circle.

The Battalion outshot Niagara 17-10 in the period, but Smith was sharp in denying attempts by Perlini, Dunn, Aaron Haydon, Cal Davis and Jordan Maletta.

Potts collected his first career OHL goal at 2:18 of the third period. Justin Brazeau and Shankar assisted as Potts’s pass for Max Kislinger was deflected into the net by Jones.

Smith received attention from athletic therapist James Borrelli at 3:20 after Riley Bruce dumped Ho-Sang into the prone goaltender, who was kicked in the head. A holding penalty to Bruce was pending at the time, but it had nothing to do with Ho-Sang’s kick.

The Battalion meets the Flint Firebirds, formerly the Plymouth Whalers, for the first time at 2 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Gardens.

BATTALION BULLETS: It was the Battalion’s first trip to the Meridian Centre this season after a 4-3 win over Niagara on Oct. 18 and a 3-1 loss Nov. 1 at home. The IceDogs visit North Bay on Dec. 18 for the fourth of six season meetings … The IceDogs have surrendered a league-high seven goals with the man advantage … The Battalion is 4-5-2 on the road. Niagara is 8-5-2 at home … North Bay was 0-for-1 on the power play. Niagara went 0-for-4 … Smith’s assist was his second of the season. He has four career helpers … Opening line combinations included Amadio centring left winger Vertiy and right winger Santos, McKenzie centring left winger Sherman and right winger Brett Hargrave and Zach Poirier pivoting left winger Mike Baird and right winger Harland. Potts centred left winger Kislinger and right winger Brazeau … North Bay scratched Jake Ramalho, Jacob Ball and Brady Lyle … Niagara acquired right winger Pavel Jenys from the Sudbury Wolves in a trade Tuesday for centre Mikkel Aagaard and defenceman Zach Wilkie … Ho-Sang has a 15-game points streak during which he has scored six goals and earned 16 assists for 22 points … The ’Dogs’ Johnny Corneil saw the end of a nine-game points streak in which he had three goals and six assists for nine points … Niagara’s Ryan Mantha completed a two-game suspension.

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