Otters outlast Troops in overtime thriller

ERIE, Pa. – Connor McDavid’s second goal, at 2:47 of overtime, gave the Erie Otters a 6-5 victory over the North Bay Battalion in a wild Ontario Hockey League game Saturday night.

McDavid, who also had an assist, skated deking through the slot to the left side and slid the puck into the net behind sprawling Battalion goaltender Jake Smith.

Remi Elie, who fed the puck to McDavid, had one goal and two assists and Travis Dermott and Troy Donnay one goal and one assist apiece for Erie, which got its other goal from Patrick Fellows. Starting goaltender Daniel Dekoning allowed five goals on 28 shots before giving way to Devin Williams, who stopped both shots he faced.

Erie has a won-lost-extended record of 31-9-3 for 65 points, first in the Midwest Division.

Mike Amadio scored two goals and contributed two assists for the Battalion, while Ryan Kujawinski had one goal and one assist. Miles Liberati and Brenden Miller each scored one goal, with Smith facing 32 shots.

North Bay is 21-10-9 for 51 points, second in the Central Division. The game marked the Troops’ third extended action in three days, after a 2-1 loss via shootout Thursday night to the visiting Barrie Colts and a 4-3 overtime win Friday night over the host Niagara IceDogs.

The game featured a reunion of McDavid and the Battalion’s Nick Paul, teammates on the Canadian team that won gold at the recent World Junior Championship.

Defenceman Donnay scored at 1:15 of the third period to give Erie a 5-3 lead, but rearguard Miller replied at 3:07 during a two-man advantage and Amadio netted his 21st goal of the season at 7:02, snapping the puck home from the right-wing circle off a rush, to tie it and bring Williams off the bench.

The Troops had every opportunity to take the lead after Alex DeBrincat went off for holding at 17:00, but the power play went for naught after a good start.

Amadio put North Bay ahead 2-1 just 20 seconds into the second period, getting loose between the circles and wristing the puck under the crossbar, before blueliner Dermott answered at 3:37 on a screened left-point drive.

McDavid struck with the man advantage at 15:42, taking a cross-crease feed from DeBrincat at the left post and giving Smith no chance from the right side. Elie scored on another power play two minutes later, moving into the goalmouth and pitching a backhander past the prone Smith.

Defenceman Liberati pulled the Battalion within 4-3 at 19:11 as he took an Amadio pass and beat Dekoning from high in the left circle.

Fellows opened the scoring at 6:17 of the first period, redirecting a right-point shot high to the far side, and Kujawinski replied on the power play at 16:41. He manoeuvred wide in the left circle, gauged the range and snapped the puck to the far side past Dekoning’s catching glove.

The Troops threatened in the 12th minute, when Brett McKenzie fed Hampus Olsson in front and he fired wide right before Alex Henriksson slid the puck dangerously through the crease. Soon after that, Amadio tried to sweep the puck around Dekoning at the left post before retrieving it for an in-close shot.

The Battalion hosts the Saginaw Spirit at 7 p.m. Thursday.

BATTALION BULLETS: Kujawinski collected his 18th goal of the season and fifth in six games since joining the Battalion in a Jan. 5 trade from the Kingston Frontenacs … North Bay is 11-5-4 on the road. Erie is 19-4-0 at home. The Otters, winners of seven of their last nine games, have won four straight since a 4-3 loss Jan. 8 to the host Sarnia Sting … The Battalion went 2-for-7 on the power play. Erie was 2-for-5 … The crowd of 5,815 cheered loudly when McKenzie kissed Henriksson’s helmet on the bench for the kiss camera midway in the second period … Opening line combinations included Paul centring Kujawinski on left wing and Amadio on right wing, McKenzie pivoting Olsson on left wing and right winger Henriksson and Ray Huether centring left winger Mike Baird and right winger Mathew Santos. Zach Poirier centred left winger Owen Green and defenceman Mark Shoemaker on the right side … The Battalion was without Zach Shankar, Zach Bratina and Nick Moutrey … Some visitors entered the Erie Insurance Arena through a nondescript door that led into a notably spacious mascot’s dressing room. Otters mascot Shooter, it was learned, also is Clutch of the NBA Development League’s Erie BayHawks and C. Wolf of the Erie SeaWolves of baseball’s Class AA Eastern League, who play in adjacent Jerry Uht Park … Erie visits North Bay on March 8.

The online game sheet can be found here.

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