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Troops impress in playoff preview against Steelheads

‘I give our kids a lot of credit, especially the kids here today because that was a tough trip we did last night’

It was a playoff preview on tap Sunday as the North Bay Battalion downed the Mississauga Steelheads 5-2. 

“I give our kids a lot of credit, especially the kids here today because that was a tough trip we did last night,” Oulahen said talking about the 5-2 victory Saturday over the Niagara IceDogs.

“To get back late, go back to back, and I think it starts with Charlie (Robertson) in net being super prepared and he played great.

“That allowed us to capitalize on our chances and ultimately it’s cool to set a franchise mark for wins in a regular season which I know is a sneaky little check mark for this group.”

North Bay finishes with a won-loss record of 48-17-2-1 for 99 points and the Central Division crown. That mark pushes the team past the 47-19-1-1 record set in 2008-09 in Brampton, all on the coaches birthday.

“It’s nice,” Oulahen said on his record setting birthday gift. “It’s something we talked about going into the weekend after we clinched the division that there was a couple of things we could work for.

“It’s a nice little cherry on top of the cake.”

The Troops got the goal scoring off halfway through the first period on a give and go that found Owen Van Steensel (11) alone in front of the net. The second-year forward made no mistake and put the puck past Alessia Beglieri. A minute and a half later, Jacob Therrien (7) kept up his impressive second half by give North Bay a two goal cushion before Kai Schwindt (12) beat Robertson to make it 2-1 North Bay after the first period.

In the second, after some defensive miscues, the Steelheads pounced on the Battalion and tied the game off the stick of Ryan Struthers (1). However, Anthony Romani (23) and Pasquale Zito (14) helped reestablish the two goal lead at 4-2 after 40 minutes.

In the third, who else but Ty Nelson (24) wristed the puck from the point to cap off the scoring at 5-2.

In total, Robertson made 44 saves against  Mississauga in arguably his best game all season long.

“I think it was a great way to get an extra game this weekend considering the circumstances,” Oulahen explained. “He rose to the occasion. He was excellent last night and he followed that up by being just as good here today.

“He’s improved so much because he’s such a coachable kid and Mavric Parks (goaltending coach) will tell you that. He does everything to stay late to work on his game and he’s evolved a lot this season. It’s good for the future.”

With Mississauga’s loss, the Troops officially know their playoff foe. It took 68 games played, but it will be the Steelheads who North Bay welcome to town Friday March 31 for game one of the first round. In six games this season, the Battalion had a 4-2 record over Mississauga. 

“It’s crazy that just now we find out the opponent,” said Oulahen. “We know them well, especially over the last couple of years. They’re a very capable team, very structured, they play the right way and they are going to pose some challenges for us.

“It will be a good chance to dig deep on video and prep this week. I know all our guys who sat out this weekend are looking forward to a good week of practice to be ready for game one on Friday.”

Puck drop will come at 7 p.m., and you can catch the game live on the Frontline Gameday Broadcast YouTube channel starting at 6:50 p.m.

Post game reaction from Coach Ryan Oulahen courtesy The Frontline: