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Coach frustrated with slow start as Troops fall in OT to Petes

;The difference in the hockey game was our start and our first period was unacceptable'

It was a rematch of the 2023 OHL Eastern Conference Finals Thursday as the Peterborough Petes came to North Bay for a date with the Battalion. Yet for the Seventh Man looking for some revenge, the Petes took away the victory with a 6-5 overtime win over North Bay.

“The difference in the hockey game was our start and our first period was unacceptable,” explained head coach Ryan Oulahen. “We have to find answers to come out harder against a team that put us out in the playoffs last year. That was disappointing. 

We got the guys going a little bit the rest of the game, and I was happy with how we played, but you can’t just dig yourself a hole that deep against a quality hockey team and ultimately they (Peterborough) deserved that extra point.”

It was the Troops striking first as just over three minutes in Anthony Romani (12) deposited the puck behind Liam Sztuska, converting on a slick pass from Dalyn Wakely out of the corner. Not to be deterred, the Petes showed their championship pedigree as 22 seconds later Jonathan Melee (7) wristed home the tying marker on the powerplay. Less than three minutes later, Owen Beck (8) added on again for Peterborough, putting the second puck past Dom DiVincentiis in his return from injury.

Answering back late in the first was another Romani (13) snipe, this time on the powerplay. Picking up an assist on the goal was Ty Nelson who now stands alone atop the Battalion franchise leaderboard for assists as a defenceman. The assist was his 103rd, passing Dylan Blujus who had registered 102 between Brampton and North Bay. The first overall pick in the 2020 OHL Priority selection, Nelson had already held the all time marks for goals and points for a defenceman.

“It’s great,” said Nelson on the record. “I mean, it’s really nice to have but right now we’re just focused on the team and we have to get those two points so that’s our main focus.”

“I said this last year when he set some records, but if there’s anybody that’s come through in terms of the organization, where it was, being a first overall drafted player, wanting to be a Battalion…you name it, he’s a guy that deserves to hold the records and all that,” expanded Oulahen.

“Extremely proud and grateful I have been able to coach him, and continue to coach him every day.”

Before a very eventful first period ended, Liam Arnsby dropped the gloves with Quinton Pagé, with a decisive victory given to the Battalion captain. 

Peterborough started strong in the second period as just over a minute into the frame, and on the powerplay again, Sam McCue (6) was able to slide the puck past DiVincentiis, who had made two quick stops seconds before the goal. Moments later, Peterborough struck again. On a seemingly innocent shot from the point by former Troop Cam Gauvreau, the puck was redirected past DiVincentiis by Brody Partridge (1). The tip from Partridge was seemingly too high for the goal to count, but after a lengthy review, the call on the ice stood.

After some crazy penalty troubles (eight penalties in total between the 5:36 and 8:58 mark of the period, with five calls against the Petes and two to North Bay. All told, there was 17 minutes in penalties handed out.) the Battalion clawed one back on a powerplay of their own as Nelson (8) wired the puck over Sztuska. Continuing with some powerplay magic, Romani (14) capped off the hat trick over Sztuska’s blocker arm, tying the game at 4-4…only halfway through the second period. That score proved to hold for the rest of the frame, as the two teams continued to trade chances.

The Battalion offence continued to hum in the third as they fired a couple of chances towards the Petes goal on the penalty kill, but it ended up being Ethan Procyszyn (4) netting the fifth goal for North Bay midway through the frame. The former first round pick in 2022 was almost at the goal line when he snuck it past Sztuska. Yet Peterborough refused to go away as McCue (7) added his second of the game, beating DiVincentiis glove side. With no more answers in regulation, the two teams headed to overtime tied 5-5.

However, it was Peterborough skating off happy as just over three minutes into the extra frame, the Petes captain Donovan McCoy (2) netted the winner.

In his return from injury, Dom DiVincentiis ended up making 32 saves, while allowing six goals. With his return, Oulahen thinks game action will help the goaltender moving forward, but is happy to see the netminder back.

“I think it’s just getting reps and getting into game form again. I have to look at the goals, but not a lot of support in some of those and some big time mistakes. I think it’s great he’s healthy and ready to rock, and we’re happy to have an important piece back for us.”

The Troops have less than 24 hours to rebound as the Battalion hit the road to Sault Ste Marie for a battle with the Greyhounds Friday night. On November 9, North Bay defeated their northern rivals 5-3 at Memorial Gardens.

“No time to feel sorry for ourselves, I know the Soo won’t feel sorry for us,” assessed the coach. “We have to try and find some energy, I know we will, and go there with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder and be better than we were tonight.”