A late third period goal proved to be the difference as the North Bay Battalion fell 3-2 to the Mississauga Steelheads.
“The result is still stinging a little bit, it happened so quickly at the end,” stated head coach Ryan Oulahen. “Going through the game, I thought there wasn’t a lot of space out there, a lot of checking, almost like a playoff feel.
“It was pretty back and forth. I thought we did a pretty good job all the way through, and then having to kill back-to-back penalties in the third hurt our legs a bit. But all in all, I’m pretty proud of the guys in terms of our effort and compete and sticking with it. Would have been nice to push it into extras and see what happens.”
After a back and forth start, the Steelheads got on the board first just over halfway through the first. 2022 NHL draft prospect Owen Beck scored his 15th, beating Joe Vrbetic. Early in the second, the Trout added another off a Charlie Callaghan deflection.
Momentum slowly turned to North Bay’s side as Dalyn Wakely got the Troops on the board with his 10th minutes later. Picking up an assist was rookie Nic Sima who is enjoying a three-game point streak.
Early in the third Brandon Coe (26) tied it up at 2-2 off a breakaway before falling awkwardly into the boards. Coe finally beat Steelheads netminder Roman Basran who had stopped him on two golden opportunities earlier in the game.
Even with another shortened lineup sporting only 11 forwards, Oulahen liked his teams' compete.
“We feel if we play the right way each and every night, no matter who is dressed, we get our chance to succeed," Oulahen added post game.
"Proof is in the pudding tonight and for the most part we kept things to the outside and make things tough on them. We certainly generated our 'grade-A' scoring chances but we couldn’t get the next one.
“I’m still in shock and disbelief and I thought we deserved more tonight,” Oulahen continued.
As the third progressed, Ty Nelson looked to have broken the deadlock for North Bay with a top corner snipe. Upon a lengthy video review, it was shown the puck had split apart when it hit the crossbar.
“I refer to the one guy on the bench who has the most experience,” said Oulahen.
“When Bill Houlder [Battalion asst. coach] sees something new for the first time, you know it doesn’t happen often. The whole puck needs to go in net and it’s pretty tough when the puck breaks in half for it to all go in the net.”
With just under two minutes in regulation remaining, James Hardie ended up breaking the tie for Mississauga and the Steelheads skated to the victory.
North Bay will get another crack at Mississauga in just 24 hours when they travel down Highway 11 for a rematch tomorrow night.
“We can’t get down and dwell on this,” Oulahen explained.
“As I’m looking in the gym, everyone is on the bike and in recovery and already in game mode for tomorrow.
“Good nutrition and good sleep and we get to bus out to Mississauga and get redemption.”