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Battalion pound Fronts as injuries mount

Troops take a convincing 7-3 victory in Game Two.

Dalyn Wakely had two goals and two assists as the North Bay Battalion dumped the Kingston Frontenacs 7-3 in game 2 of the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Saturday night at Memorial Gardens. 

Sandis Vilmanis added 1 goal and 2 assists while Owen Van Steensel contributed 1 goal and 1 assist as the Troops take a 2-0 series lead heading to Kingston. 

With Anthony Romani and Andrew Leblanc already out with injuries; more injuries and suspensions continued to pile on Saturday night with Liam Arnsby removed for a major penalty for head contact in the first period,, and both Dom DiVincentiis and Jacob Therrien forced to leave the game as well due to injury. 

The Battalion got on the board on an early power play as Ty Nelson blasted his second power play marker of the series off a perfect feed for the one-timer courtesy of Dalyn Wakely which surprised Kingston netminder Mason Vaccari less than 3 minutes into the game for an early 1-0 Troops lead. 

The Troops increased the lead when Ihnat Pazii took a feed from behind the net by Sandis Vilmanis and the crafty forward who was wide open in the slot, made it 2-0 at 4:54 of the opening frame. 

The Fronts got some life after a big hit by Liam Arnsby on Fronts forward Linus Hemstrom and the Battalion captain's night ended midway through the first for the head contact infraction.

With Nelson already in the box, the Fronts cashed in on a 5 on 3 power play as Jacob Battaglia finished off a nice three-way passing play by chipping a puck over the pad of Dom DiVincentiis at 11:45 to cut the lead to 2-1. 

However, the Troops responded shorthanded as Dalyn Wakely was sent in all alone on a shorthanded breakaway on a nice pass by Bronson Ride for his second of the postseason to give the Troops a 3-1 lead at 12:31.   

However, the crazy start continued, as Dom DiVincentiis was lying awkwardly on the ice after the goal. The Jets prospect stayed out for a quick sequence and after making a glove save on a Fronts next shot, however, before the next faceoff, DiVincentiis went directly to the Battalion locker room. 

After Mike McIvor came in, his first save bounced out into the slot, was recovered by the Troops Tnias Mathurn and he sent Sandis Vilmanis who raced down the left wing and snuck another shorthanded marker past Vaccari for a 4-1 lead. 

The Troops continued to pound away at the Fronts as Dalyn Wakely faked out a Fronts defender and walked in and beat Vaccari, for his second of the game giving the Battalion a 5-1 lead in the final minute of the opening frame.  

That goal ended one of the most crazy and bizarre periods Battalion fans and Head Coach Ryan Oulahen have witnessed this season. 

"You have to expect the unexpected sometimes in games and especially in playoffs," stated Oulahen post game. 

"Anything can happen, you can prepare your game plan, prepare for everything and then all of a sudden you are hit with a first period like that."  

The Fronts put in JJ Salajko replacing Vaccari, as he became the fourth netminder to get playing time before the opening minute of the second period. Meantime, Battalion prospect Charles Larocque was dressed as McIvor's backup to start the middle frame. 

"We don't know yet," Oulahen stated when asked about the injury status of both DiVincentiis and Therrien. 

"We are hoping nothing is serious but we do not know yet, we are waiting for them to get evaluated."  

Early second, the Battalion increased their lead as Brice Cooke welcomed Salajko with a bar-down goal from a sharp angle on the left wing on a Battalion power play at 3:04 that made it 6-1.  

The Fronts finally solved McIvor as Gage Heyes came down the right wing and ripped a shot high over the shoulder of the former U18 Trappers goaltender to cut the lead to 6-2 at 12:28 of the middle frame. 

McIvor got some redemption as Heyes was sent in on a shorthanded breakaway and the southpaw backstopper shut the door as Heyes tried to beat him through the legs. 

The Battalion added on late in the second as Owen Van Steensel ripped a one-timer shot high over the shoulder of Salajko which made it 7-2 Battalion at 17:10.  

The Fronts got the only goal of the final frame, as Jacob Holmes rushed into the Battalion end and batted a puck past a surprised McIvor to make it 7-3 at 16:34 of the third. 

McIvor, came in and stopped 17 of 19 he faced. Oulahen was impressed with the poise his rookie netminder showed in his first OHL playoff game. 

"I love it, I watch as he went in there, just went in there and brings energy," explained Oulahen about McIvor. 

"Maybe our group fed off that a little bit. He just has that kind of swagger and really good confidence to him. I thought he was great. Sometimes when you just get thrown in there you don't know when you are going to go in and then, 'boom,' you just go in and play. Mike is a hockey player and that is exactly what he did there today."  

Battalion head coach Ryan Oulahen rested many of his stars as the Troops tried to run out the clock and avoid more injury drama. 

Affiliate Dylan Richter along with Nolan Laird and Lirim Amidovski saw significant minutes to close out the playoff win. 

Game 3 of the best-of-seven affair goes Monday night in Kingston. 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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