Majors down Troops with 2-0 shutout

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Goaltender Mickael Audette made 28 saves for the shutout and Corey Bureau and Gregg Sutch scored second-period goals to lead the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors to a 2-0 Ontario Hockey League victory Friday night over the Brampton Battalion.

The win gave Mississauga a sweep of the Peel Region rivals’ eight games, with the Battalion taking one point in the season series, from a 5-4 loss via shootout at home Oct. 11.

The Troops did manage to outshoot Mississauga for the first time this season, as the Majors tested Battalion goaltender Matej Machovsky 25 times before a crowd of 3,939.

“They’re a big, strong, experienced team, and we struggled to score goals against them,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler.

Mississauga has won nine straight games and boasts a league-best won-lost-extended record of 52-13-2 for 106 points atop the Central Division and Eastern Conference. The Majors’ last loss was a 4-1 setback to the host Belleville Bulls on Feb. 26.

Machovsky, who left for an extra attacker with just more than a minute left, has lost six consecutive starts, during which the Battalion has scored a total of six goals and been shut out three times. Audette recorded his first shutout in his seventh OHL appearance.

The Battalion is 28-31-7 for 63 points, third in the division and sixth in the conference. The Troops are four points behind the fifth-place Kingston Frontenacs, who fell 6-3 at home to the Sudbury Wolves. Seventh-place Sudbury pulled within three points of the Battalion with two days left in the regular season.

The Battalion still can face any of the Niagara IceDogs, Oshawa Generals and Ottawa 67s in the first round of the playoffs.

Bureau, alone in front of the net, opened the scoring at 3:02 of the middle period, converting a pass from behind the goal line to Machovsky’s right from Jamie Wise. Sutch started the play in the right-wing corner.

Sutch struck on the power play at 16:17. Machovsky made a good save on a short-range backhander by Wise on the right side, but the puck went to the middle, where Sutch knocked it home for his eighth goal of the season. Bureau had the other assist.

The period featured two fights, with Alex O’Neil and Mississauga’s Rob Flick staging an epic slugfest at 3:59. O’Neil, who took most of the early punches, persevered to rock Flick with a late left. Zach Bell and Wise fought at 5:58 in the second bout.

In the eighth minute, Jonathan Johansson hit the right post behind Audette and Barclay Goodrow and Scott Tanski attacked on a two-on-one chance, with Goodrow firing a shot from the left-wing side and taking the rebound around the net to the right post, where the Troops questioned a whistle.

The start of the game was delayed seven minutes after the national anthem to permit the arena lights to return to full effect, but the teams operated in the proverbial dark for much of the first period, in which Mississauga was credited with an 8-7 shots advantage. Play was generally listless, especially early, when numerous icing calls deadened the action.

Alex Cord drew the first penalty, for high-sticking at 13:16, but the Majors defended well, keeping the Battalion on the perimeter and surrendering little other than attempts from the blue line by Marcus McIvor.

Battalion captain Stephon Thorne went off for interference at 19:42 to even the penalties.

The Battalion scratched Andreas Tsogkas. Mississauga scratches were Casey Cizikas, Justin Rasmussen, Marc Cantin and Riley Brace.

The Battalion, which ends its schedule by hosting Belleville at 2 p.m. Sunday, visits Oshawa at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. The game can be seen live in Brampton on Rogers Cable 10 and in Bolton, Caledon and Orangeville on Rogers Cable 63.

BATTALION NOTEBOOK: A video scoreboard installed in the Hershey Centre in January in advance of the Memorial Cup tournament in May recently was completed with the addition of game and penalty clocks … Assistant coach Jason Ward returned to the Battalion bench after leaving the team in November to play for the Linz Black Wings of Austria’s Erste Bank Hockey League … The Battalion went 0-for-1 on the power play. Mississauga was 1-for-3 … The Troops are 12-17-4 on the road, while the Majors are 24-8-1 at home. Mississauga has won five in a row at home since a 5-2 loss to the Kitchener Rangers on Feb. 21 … Audette, obtained in a trade from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Jan. 8, saw his first action against the Troops. The Greyhounds acquired him Jan. 7 after he cleared waivers in the Quebec Major Junior League, where he played 94 games for the Quebec Remparts and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies over four seasons … Machovsky made his fifth start of the season against Mississauga. The Czech native’s parents, Jan and Eva, and his younger brother, Jan Jr., were in attendance … Opening line combinations included Tanski centring left winger Ian Watters and Goodrow on right wing, Sam Carrick centring left winger Thorne and Craig Moore on right wing and Domenic Alberga pivoting Johansson on left wing and right winger Philip Lane. Michael Santini centred left winger O’Neil and right winger Matt MacLeod … The Battalion’s Jordan Auld returned after losing two games to a concussion, while fellow rearguard Spencer Abraham marked his 18th birthday … Cizikas lost a seventh game to a wrist injury, while Brace sat out a second game with an injured ankle. Cantin was a healthy scratch.

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