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Battalion outlasts Wolves in high scoring affair

'Probably a game the fans love and the coaches kind of cringe on'

The North Bay Battalion capped off a strong weekend of hockey with a 7-6 victory over the Highway 17 rivals, the Sudbury Wolves.

“Another big game, another big two points, wild hockey game for sure,” head coach Ryan Oulahen said post game.

“Probably a game the fans love and the coaches kind of cringe on. Ultimately this is a tough weekend we just went through and to get five of six points with it concluding with a win over Sudbury, we will take it.

“Hopefully this weekend will be something that spring boards us a bit. I alluded to that a bit with the consistency in terms of having a good game and follow it up with another good game, however, when we have not a good game, we follow it up with a really good game which is why I think you’re seeing those split weekends. This is a big one and hopefully this spring boards us to a streak in a positive direction.”

It was Sudbury who got the party started early as 35 seconds into the contest, David Goyette (7) swatted in a rebound past Charlie Robertson. Less than six minutes later, the Wolves bit again as Liam McCallum (8) slid the puck between Robertson’s legs, capping off a nice passing play from Noah Collins and Dalibor Dvorský. 

Not to be silenced, the Battalion responded in kind as Ty Nelson (9) picked up a drop pass from Lirim Amidovski and sniped it over Drew Gaulton’s glove hand. The goal was also assisted by Trevor McDowell, who was making his OHL debut. The defender was originally drafted by the Windsor Spitfires in 2019, and was signed by North Bay this past week. Speaking of debuts, Wolves netminder Gaulton was appearing in his first OHL start. The goalie had been plying his trade with the NOJHL’s Espanola Paper Kings this season. 

Late in the period with North Bay on the powerplay, Ihnat Pazii (4) found a loose puck in the slot and one timed it past Gaulton. Pazii evidently likes playing against Sudbury as the import has netted three of his four goals this season against the northern rivals. That’s how the score remained heading into the first intermission, tied 2-2.

In the second period the Troops got off and running as Justin Ertel (8) was the recipient of a nice passing play from Dalyn Wakely and Anthony Romani. Ertel ended up roofing the puck over Gaulton. Moments later, on a powerplay, Owen Van Steensel (10) tipped the puck past Gaulton to give North Bay a 4-2 lead. Late in the second, Romani (16) continued his impressive season, swatting a puck in to give North Bay a 5-2 leads going into the second intermission.

Just over six minutes into the third, Collins (3) beat Robertson under the blocker arm to give the Wolves some life. Pouncing again, 10 seconds after the Collins goal, Dvorský (8) beat Robertson again, chasing the netminder from the net and bringing in Mike McIvor. Rebounding after that goal, with just over 11 minutes gone, Brice Cooke made a nice move, but Gaulton responded with a great save, but no one picked up Ethan Procyszyn (6) as he promptly placed the rebound in the back of the net.

Continuing with some wild goal scoring in the third, Sudbury native Alex Pharand (3) tipped a puck past McIvor, before Romani (17) added his second. Kocha Delic (7) capped off the scoring before a late scrum between both teams before the clock signalled the end of the game with a 7-6 Battalion victory.

“It was a good weekend from us and this is what we needed to close it off,” Justin Ertel said post game. “It was a good effort from everyone and glad we could finish it off.”

The Battalion will be back in action on Thursday when they host the London Knights. The last time the two teams met, the Troops beat the Knights 4-1 in London on October 6.

“It’s always exciting to play them, and you get them once a year at home,” said Oulahen. “Something that we will have to gear up for. They’re one of the best teams in the Western Conference so that will allow us to have a real good week at practice and good focus.”

Puck drop from Memorial Gardens is at 7 p.m., and you can catch the breakdown with coaches and players comments live right after the game with the Frontline’s After Action Report on Spreaker.