The North Bay Battalion face an uphill climb as they fell Sunday evening to the Hamilton Bulldogs 5-0.
Hamilton now leads the best of seven Eastern Conference Finals 2-0.
“The score is what it is, and the one thing I know is no matter what the score is, it’s just a loss and that’s how we have to look at it here,” explained Battalion head coach Ryan Oulahen.
“I’m very optimistic, a positive person and I say we get back home, back to North Bay and have some fans behind us and make it a hostile environment and a place we can have success in. We’re going to hold our heads up high, regroup and rest and recovery with a good practice day.”
“I think we’re up against a very good hockey club,” Bulldogs head coach Jay McKee said. “We have to be at our best and I think our players showed their respect for that team in the way they played and the powerplay was clicking. I liked that we were able to match their physicality and our goaltending was good again and we are fortunate to get a good win at home.”
Logan Morrison (11) opened the scoring for Hamilton early in the first. Mason McTavish (10) added on late in the first. In the second, Avery Hayes (4,5) scored twice and Ryan Winterton (4) added on in the third.
Three of the five goals scored were on the powerplay. The Bulldogs finished 3/6 with the man advantage and 4/7 in the series altogether while Hayes first of the night was a shorthanded tally beating Dom DiVincentiis.
Special teams have been special for the Bulldogs so far in this series.
“Andreas Karlsson,” McKee said when explaining the powerplay success, praising his assistant coach. “He’s been fantastic working with these guys and obviously we have guys with a lot of skill and IQ and vision, but a lot of credit goes to Andreas and players involved.
“It comes down to execution. They (North Bay) have a good penalty kill over there, especially coming in to the series throughout the playoffs, and our guys have stepped up.”
With the series shifting to North Bay, McKee is not taking anything lightly.
“Every team plays better at home, we know that. They have last line change, their home crowd. We know it’s going to be hard fought again. Every game we have had up there has been very difficult and I expect more of the same.”
“I said the other day that if we’re going to have success against this team, we can’t take a shift off. I think our players have shown respect to them by playing that way. We understand how good they are, the season they have had and how dangerous they can be so we have to play really good hockey in North Bay.”
However, for the Battalion, the team is optimistic to have home support for games 3 and 4.
“Playing at home, we have a lot of fun playing there,” Troops forward Mitchell Russell said. “I think you’re going to see a different energy from our group back home.”
“Coming in on the road against Hamilton, it would have been a bonus to steal one but it hasn’t happened,” Oulahen added.
“Now we have to go back to our building and we have been really good all year long at home, our fans are special and looking forward to supporting us. I also have experience of being a visitor and it is no fun, so we want to make sure we are ready and prepared for Wednesday.”
“At certain points during the hockey game we were doing good things. We’re going to draw a lot of positives from that and I think we can elevate and get to a new gear here. I liked the emotion and push back from our guys. We’re really looking forward to a home game in this series.”
Game three goes Wednesday night from Memorial Gardens. You can watch live on YourTV North Bay and listen to the Frontline Gameday Broadcast on the Battalion YouTube channel.