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Vilmanis hat trick helps Battalion take down Spirit

Vilmanis with the hat trick in the key road win.
Sandis Vilmanis and Liam Arnsby celebrate.

After a 5-3 setback against the Spirit last weekend in North Bay, the Battalion travelled to Saginaw looking for something revenge against the Memorial Cup hosts. A Sandis Vilmanis hat trick saw to that as North Bay took down the Spirit 6-3.

Vilmanis (25) got the ice breaker at the 13:27 mark of the first, as he wired a puck past Spirit netminder Nolan Lalande.

Sebastian Gervais (8) tied the game up almost five minutes later, beating Dom DiVincentiis. However, Brice Cooke (11) put the Troops back up eight seconds after Saginaw tied the game, with a goal that looked an awful lot like Vilmanis’. The score stood at 2-1 Battalion after the first period.

In the second the Christopoulos twins traded assists and quickly, as Alex received an apple on the Joey Willis (13) goal to tie the game 16:07 in. Once again the Battalion struck fast as Paul found Anthony Romani (45) cross ice who found twin to give North Bay a 3-2 lead.

Still in the second, Tnias Mathurin found himself in penalty trouble as the big defender took a tripping call. On the ensuing penalty kill, Justin Ertel (21) came in on a shorthanded breakaway, beating Lalonde with 13 seconds left in the period.

This time on the powerplay, Vilmanis (26) potted his second of the game as the Latvian converted on an Ertel rebound halfway through the third. Saginaw tried to gain some momentum, however, as James Guo (1) pit the puck behind DiVincentiis.

With just over three minutes left in the game, Vilmanis (27) completed the hat trick on a highlight reel breakaway and making the final score 6-3.

Since joining the Battalion in a January trade from Sarnia, Vilmanis has put up video game numbers.

The big Latvian winger has scored 17 goals with 5 assists for 22 points in 17 games, talk about a deadline acquisition!

North Bay continues their southern swing Saturday as the team faces off against the Flint Firebirds. The last time the two teams met was a 6-4 win for the Troops at Memorial Gardens on October 22, 2023.