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Barrie bests Battalion in 8-2 win

'It seems like just as we were building momentum we would get a penalty and that kills your flow and your ability to make that push'

A two game winning streak for the North Bay Battalion was snapped on Sunday afternoon by the division rival Barrie Colts, who topped the Troops in North Bay 8-2.

“The result is obviously not what we were looking for,” says Battalion Head Coach Ryan Oulahen.

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for the Battalion, and the rest of the league, with games being postponed and rematches made up in empty arenas as health units around the province do their best to adjust for COVID-19 protocols and regulations.

Amidst all that the Troops entered January on a six game slide, having last picked up two points on December 9 in a 5-4 overtime win at home to the Soo Greyhounds.

However, going into Sunday’s game against the Colts, it appeared the Battalion was getting back on track to how they played the majority of the first three months of the season with back to back wins over Mississauga and Barrie during their last two outings.

But the Colts had no intention of dropping a second straight tilt to the Troops as they burst through with five power play goals on six man advantages.

“Out inability to stay out of the penalty box was a big factor here,” says Oulahen.

“I think just overall we need to be better at blocking shots and winning those one on one battles. Those things get magnified when you’re killing a penalty because when you win a battle but don’t quite clear a puck, usually its something that happens five seconds before the goal goes in. You have to be better in those areas knowing you’re down by a man.”

The Colts scored three times in the opening period with goals from Ben Pickell (1), Beau Jelsma (9) and Ethan Cardwell (8). The Jelsma goal was the first on the Power Play for Barrie on the afternoon and at the end of the first twenty minutes the Colts were up 3-1.

They expanded that lead to 4-1 with another goal on the man advantage at 9:47 of the second period, courtesy of Anthony Tabak (6).

But the Troops cut the lead in half in the final minute of the second when Brandon Coe (22) beat the Colts netminder Mack Guzda at 19:07 to make the score 4-2. 

“I did think that five on five we we’re ok today, and didn’t mind out first and second period,”says.

“Getting that second goal late in the second period seemed to energize our group. It really looked like we were coming on strong and I thought that we were going to have that again in the third period.”

A minute into the third period and Kyle McDonald, a Troops deadline acquisition, was called for checking from behind and received a game misconduct.

“It seems like just as we were building momentum we would get a penalty and that kills your flow and your ability to make that push,” says Oulahen. 

 The Colts would score twice on the ensuing five-minute major to go ahead 6-2. Tabak (7) scored the first one, his second of the game, and would finish with a four point night. Ryan Del Monte (4) scored the second on that Colts power play, while Brandt Clarke (6) and Nathan Allensen (7, PPG) scored later in the frame.

Joe Vrbetic took the loss in net for the Troops with his record falling to 15-5-2-2, allowing eight goals on 32 shots. Guzda improved to 12-6-0-1 (7-2-0-0 since being traded to Barrie) as he made 23 saves in net.

This was the second time this season the Battalion and the Colts met in back-to-back games. Oulahen says with these recent and repetitive meetings with division rivals, it makes it feel like a mini-playoff series in the middle of the season.

“The big thing is that there are no secrets,” says Oulahen.

“They know the things that were trying to do, we know the things that they are trying to do, and ultimately it comes down to the execution and those little intangibles within the game that will make the difference.”

The Battalion did have one bright spot in the game. Their first goal from Matvey Petrov (22) to tie the game 1-1, was delivered off one of the prettiest passes you will see this season. Tnias Mathurin caught a pass from Mitchell Russell on the right side circle in the Colts zone. Mathurin put the puck down, turned to face the net, and took two steps before putting the puck through his own legs, passed a defender and on to the tape of Petrov who was stationed at the top of the crease to bury the puck.

“That was quite the play,” says Oulahen. “Quite the athleticism to make that happen and it looked pretty good on the replay.”

Seriously, go watch it.

The Troops next game is scheduled for Thursday, January 20 as they host the Sudbury Wolves at 7 p.m.

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