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Battalion with backs against wall after defeat

‘It wasn’t the outcome we wanted’


The North Bay Battalion find themselves with their backs against the wall after a 6-4 defeat to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The best of seven Eastern Conference Final is now at 3-0 in favour of the Bulldogs.

“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted,” stated head coach Ryan Oulahen. “We were better tonight, clearly better than we have been throughout this series. We’re making strides. I think the biggest message for us is we need to be a little bit better in every area.”

“We have had a motto since day one of being one percent better. We need to be one percent on our stick battles, one percent better finishing plays, one percent better all over the ice and that’s going to be our theme here. We have dug a hole here, but one game at a time.”

“It’s what we expected,” Bulldogs head coach Jay McKee said. “We knew North Bay was going to come out physical, play a fast style and they’re a dangerous team and they showed that tonight. Fortunate to get the win, I think it could have gone either way tonight. There was holes in our game and holes in theirs and we are fortunate to win here.”

Unlike the first two games in the series, North Bay struck first as Matvey Petrov (2) beat Marco Costantini 2:42 into the second. However, six minutes later, Avery Hayes (6) found a way past Dom DiVincentiis shorthanded to tie the game at one. Later in the period, Hayes (7) struck again to give Hamilton a 2-1 lead heading in to intermission.

In the second, 34 seconds in, Mark Duarte (1) beat DiVincentiis from the slot to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 cushion before North Bay mounted a comeback. The Troops gained momentum as Anthony Romani (3) and Nic Sima (1) beat Costantini twice in under four minutes. Yet, before the period was over, Hamilton regained the lead as Logan Morrison (12) potted another goal in the series to make it 4-3.

In the third, the Battalion made it close as Brandon Coe (7) netted one on the powerplay before Morrison scored an empty netter to give Hamilton the 6-4 victory.

For head coach Jay McKee, although the Bulldogs are a win away from the Bobby Orr Trophy and a date in the OHL finals, the team is not taking North Bay lightly.

“They’re a great hockey club. They had a fantastic season and have played fantastic throughout the playoffs. We’re watching two great hockey clubs go at it every night and we have to be on our A game. We slipped at points and I thought we had a better third period than the first two, but they showed we can’t take shifts off because they will find the back of the net.”

“The mindset will be more of the same,” McKee continued. “Teams that have their backs up against the wall give their best effort so we will expect that. They’re at home and have a lot of pride, we can’t take our foot off the gas and earn everything we get.”

Game four becomes a must win for the Troops now as they look to avoid the sweep. For Oulahen, the message is clear to the fans, they need the Seventh Man.

“I think the crowd could be one percent better too. We’re looking for help in any which way. We’re in the Conference Finals here and it’s a Friday night in North Bay. Let’s pack the building, we need it as loud as possible. You can tell our players feed off it. When you hear the ‘go Troops go’ at the beginning of the game, that’s a big factor. In the second period we had good momentum going and it was the crowd on our side.”

“One game at a time, we can’t look at the overall picture,” continued Oulahen. “One shift, one period, one game and that’s the approach we’re going to have.”

Game four is scheduled for Friday at 7:00pm from North Bay Memorial Gardens. You can watch live on YourTV North Bay, or listen to the Frontline Gameday Broadcast on the Battalion YouTube channel.