A four-goal effort by Sandis Vilmanis, and a 22-save shutout by Michael McIvor helped propel the North Bay Battalion to a touchdown and field goal score of 9-0 over the Kingston Frontenacs
“Well played once again here,” said head coach Ryan Oulahen.
“When the score was the score, we kept playing hard and doing what we were doing. A lot of guys got rewarded today, and a few guys got rewarded today that do so much for us that don’t end up on the scoresheet.
“I liked our intent, you had the feeling from the first shift that we meant business today and it was a well-played game.”
“I think he earned it in the last few minutes of the game,” Oulahen added on McIvor.
“It was nice to see, especially in the last 10 seconds to see a blocked shot and I think the guys really wanted that for Mikey.”
Continuing his hot start to his Battalion career, Vilmanis (20) broke the ice at the 7:55 mark. Vilmanis picked up the puck off a giveaway from Quinton Burns, moving in all alone to beat an outstretched Mason Vaccari. After the goal, Burns argued with the referees that they had missed a high stick on him leading to the turnover, but the goal stood.
In the second the Troops kept up the attack. Captain Liam Arnsby (9) picked up his own rebound on the doorstep, snapping it past Vaccari. Vilmanis (21) minutes later added his second of the game, sniping it bar down. The puck entered and exited the net so quick that the officials had to stop for a moment to review the play and make sure the puck did cross the line.
Keeping up the pressure, Vilmanis (22) completed the hat trick on a highlight reel goal. Picking up the puck in the neutral zone, the Latvian import streaked in down the right wing, cutting towards Vaccari and roofing it backhand over the Kingston netminder.
Late in the second, the dynamic duo of Anthony Romani and Dalyn Wakely struck again as Romani fed a slick pass to Wakely (26) who one-timed it home. Seconds later, 22 seconds to be precise, Justin Ertel (19) sniped the puck over Vaccari from the high slot. The score after the second period was 6-0 North Bay.
In the third, the Troops added on again as Wakely (27) one timed another pass from Romani from the slot area. The goal was scored against JJ Salajko, who came in for Vaccari at the start of the third period. Ihnat Pazii (8) piled on as well, with a short breakaway, beating Salajko. The goal was Pazii’s second in as many games, and the first time in his short OHL career he has scored in back to back games.
Vilmanis (23) notched another marker as he tapped home a highlight reel pass from Ertel, making it four goals for the former Sarnia Sting, and the final 9-0.
Since joining the Battalion on January 11th against Mississauga, Vilmanis is tied with Romani for the team lead in goals with 13.
“You do a lot of homework, and the things he will bring,” Oulahen said about Vilmanis. “We felt like we needed some players to hold onto the puck more and have puck possession and he’s off the charts with those numbers in the league. His stats weren’t quite there in terms of points, but they’re starting to come.
“I see him as someone who can kill penalties, he’s never done that before and I don’t understand why but he will do that for us. He can skate, he can do all those things. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and you can see the confidence with Liam (Arnsby) and Justin (Ertel).”
Oulahen says despite the two blow out wins this week, there is still work to do for the Battalion.
“As a coach I sometimes know the broader picture. It’s not the worst thing in the world to have a set back, we had a great week of practice, we had teachable moments and had a great week of practice. You do need that in the course of the season and our guys are starting to find their way.
“This is going to be a test in the other way. We had such a good weekend, it’s going to be interested to see how we are this week and how we come out on Friday.”
The Troops will be back in action for a rare Friday tilt against Ottawa when the 67’s come to town on the 17th. Puck drop from the Gardens will be at 7:00 p.m., and the Frontline will be live with the North Bay Mitsubishi After Action Report moments after the final buzzer.