BRAMPTON, Ont. – While the Brampton Battalion’s end was long anticipated, it came suddenly, with the finality of an overtime goal.
Evan de Haan scored at 6:23 of extra time to give the Sudbury Wolves a 1-0 victory in a thrilling Ontario Hockey League finale in Brampton as the Wolves eliminated the Troops with a 4-1 decision in games in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
After 15 seasons, the next stage in the Battalion’s history will be written in North Bay, where the club is to move for the 2013-14 campaign.
Sudbury goaltender Franky Palazzese made 35 saves, including 10 in overtime, in the Wolves’ second extra-time win in two nights. Sudbury, which prevailed 5-4 in overtime at home Thursday night, captured four consecutive games after a 4-1 loss in the series opener at Brampton on March 21.
Battalion goaltender Jake Smith, making his first OHL playoff start, provided 21 saves before a crowd of 2,903, many of whom serenaded the team with a chant of “Go, Troops, go” even as the players left the ice.
“I’ve had a lot of great memories in Brampton and enjoyed my time here,” said coach Stan Butler, who served the third game of a five-game suspension. “I’ve had a lot of disappointments here, but this will go down probably as the biggest, not being on the bench for the final game in Brampton.
“If you look at the series, the only time a team really won any game by more than one goal was ours in the first game here. We outshot them 40-13 in Game 3 in Sudbury, and an empty-net goal gave them a 3-1 win. We had lots of chances to score in the overtime tonight but just couldn’t come away with one.”
Said captain Barclay Goodrow: “Losing any game in overtime is a heartbreaker. But when it’s the season like that, it’s even tougher. These guys battled hard every game but we came up short, and it’s definitely tough to take right now.
“Hearing that from these fans for the last time made it even tougher. They’ve been so good to us in the 15 years that the team has been here. It’s something that I’ll remember the rest of my life, and I’m sure everyone in the room will too.”
The scoring sequence saw Smith, who made a blocker save on Michael Kantor open in the slot, try to direct the puck into the left-wing corner. The puck went directly to de Haan, who backhanded it into the net.
“Jake made a great save on Kantor, but de Haan gets it in the corner,” said Butler. “Normally a defenceman wouldn’t go back towards the front of the net there; he’d go back to the point. He had the sense to go there, and the rest is history.”
Mathew Santos had the Battalion’s best overtime chance moments before the goal. He jammed at the puck in front of Palazzese, forcing it to squirt to the left. Santos jumped on it but couldn’t backhand it home.
“I don’t think we had a lot of scoring chances other than in the final couple of minutes of regulation,” said Butler. “Our best chances came then and again in the overtime period.”
The Battalion outshot the visitors 7-6 in the first period, going on the power play twice to the Wolves’ once.
After the Troops killed a boarding call against Kyle Wood at 2:33, Danny Desrochers went off for tripping Calvin Gomes at 11:12. Just after the power play ended, Blake Clarke stole the puck in the right circle only to blast it into the collapsing Palazzese’s chest.
Jacob Harris received a goaltender interference penalty when he barreled into Smith at 17:37, dislodging the net. A bent-over Harris then played the victim all the way to the box.
The tension of the scoreless game continued to build in the second period, when Sudbury had two of three power-play opportunities.
Palazzese stoned Clarke to the goaltender’s left in the 10th minute.
With the Wolves on the power play, referee Ben Wilson signaled no goal on a scramble as Smith covered up at 11:46. The play went to a lengthy video review before the on-ice call was upheld.
Palazzese foiled Francis Menard at the left lip of the crease at 5:04 of the third period.
Battalion scratches were Mark Raycroft, Patrik Machac and Connor Jarvis. Sudbury scratched Jeff Corbett, David Eccles, Connor Burgess, Zach McFadden and Brody Silk.
BATTALION NOTEBOOK: Each team went 0-for-3 on the power play … The Battalion has an all-time won-lost record of 47-66 in 113 playoff games, including 24-32 in 56 home dates … The Troops are 7-16 in playoff overtime games, including 4-8 at Brampton. It was the first postseason game in Battalion history that went to overtime at 0-0 … Smith made his OHL playoff debut when he entered the game Thursday night in the first period after Matej Machovsky gave up three goals on eight shots … Opening Battalion line combinations included Mike Amadio centring Menard on left wing and right winger Goodrow, Jamie Lewis pivoting left winger Clarke and right winger Matt MacLeod and Nick Paul centring left winger Brandon Robinson and right winger Santos. Nicholas Foglia centred Gomes on left wing and right winger Brendan Childerley … Battalion overagers Cameron Wind, a five-year defenceman, Childerley and Menard played their final OHL game … Machac was sidelined after leaving Game 4 in the first period following a collision with de Haan. In the Battalion’s first lineup change of the series, Gomes made his OHL playoff debut … Battalion defenceman Brenden Miller marked his 19th birthday Friday … North Bay’s CKAT 600 provided radio coverage, and the city’s TVCogeco Cable 12 relayed live the Rogers Community Television feed of the game … Brampton faced Sudbury in three playoff series, all conference quarterfinals featuring the Battalion as the fourth seed and the Wolves as the fifth. Sudbury won a six-game series in double overtime on home ice in 2005, and the Troops completed a sweep in double overtime at Sudbury last year … Sean Reid was the other referee. The linesmen were Andrew Brown and Dustin McCrank.