The five-game road trip for the North Bay Battalion is over and bookended by a pair of losses as the Troops fell just short against Ottawa in a 6-5 loss to the 67’s on Sunday afternoon. The loss in the nation's capital breaks a three-game winning streak, but also ends their five-game stretch on the road which began with a loss in Guelph last weekend before the Troops picked up wins over Owen Sound, Kingston and Peterborough.
Technically, the Battalion was playing their third game in two and a half days after back-to-back evening affairs gave way to the Sunday afternoon tilt in Ottawa and the Battalion may have been feeling the wear and tear from the road as they managed to tie the game on three separate occasions, but could never pull ahead, dropping their record to 13-9-4-1.
North Bay opened the scoring at 3:19, when Justin Ertel (11) ripped a shot off a two-on-one into the zone that Goaltender Colin MacKenzie couldn’t catch up to. The play was set up by Ty Nelson blowing past a defender who got his stick in Nelson’s face, but the Seattle Kraken prospect brushed it off to gain control of the puck and send it through the slot to Ertel, trading in the delayed penalty call for a goal instead to go up 1-0.
Ertel would pick up an assist later in the game to give him his fourth multi-point effort in his last eight games. He’s also scored in three straight games and has six goals and seven points in those eight games since November 17th.
But offense really hasn’t been the issue of late for North Bay.
In fact on this five-game road trip, they scored at least five goals four times, but didn’t allow less than three goals against. It didn’t hurt them in the middle portion of the trip, but the 3-1 loss to Guelph at the beginning and the 6-5 loss to Ottawa highlights an unfavorable trend as the Battalion have not allowed less than three goals against since a 5-2 win over Oshawa on October 15th.
It’s a span of 19 games in which the Battalion are 9-7-3-0 with 86 goals for and 85 goals against. Clearly you like seeing those offensive numbers. 86 goals in 19 games are tremendous and the Battalion have scored four goals or more in 15 of those games. But certainly, they are leaving something to be desired on the defensive side and on Sunday against Ottawa, the Troops found themselves trailing by a couple of goals before the 10-minute mark of the second period.
Luca Pinelli (20) picked up a power play goal at 12:03 in the first to tie the game.
The 67’s stormed out of the gates in the second period, picking up goals in quick succession when Brady Stonehouse (10) gave the home side the lead at 1:21 and Will Gerrior (9) added to the score at 2:22 for a 3-1 67’s lead.
North Bay tied the game with back-to-back goals within a minute of their own when Ethan Procyszyn (7) sniped a puck from the slot to get the Battalion within a goal. He finished the night with a goal and an assist and is a single point away from tying his career high of 18 which he set last season in his first year in the OHL.
Jacob Therrien continued his strong season, getting his tenth goal of the year at 8:32 to put the Battalion back on an even footing at 3-3.
Ottawa regained the lead at 10:55 when Kaleb Lawrence scored his seventh of the season, but the Battalion matched the 67’s with a third goal of the period at 11:27.
That one courtesy of Brice Cook (6) who took a great feed from Procyszyn out of the corner right onto his tape in the slot, and Cook went down to one knee to get some air under his shot which beat Mackenzie glove side. Cooke would finish the game with a goal and two assists for his first three-point game as a member of the Battalion and the second of his career – the last coming when he was a member of the Niagara IceDogs when he recorded two goals and an assist on February 18th, 2022, against Oshawa.
Pinelli (8) got his second of the game, another power play goal by the 67’s, at 4:18 of the third period to give Ottawa their third lead of the night, before Ihnat Pazii (6) scored his second goal in as many games for the Battalion at 6:27 to tie it 4-4.
Pazii now has points in three straight games and Anthony Romani picked up a secondary assist on the play.
That was the lone point of the night for the top line of Romani, Owen Van Steensel and Dalyn Wakely who otherwise had a dominant weekend on the scoreboard. The trio combined for eight goals and 18 points on the weekend, led by Romani’s nine points and setting himself up to break his career highs of 23 goals and 43 points which he set last season; he’s currently at 22 goals and 43 points this year.
Ottawa picked up the game-winning goal at 11:26 of the third period when Stonehouse (11) scored his second of the game for a 6-5 finish.
Dom DiVincentiis (7-5-1-0) made 36 saves on 42 shots while Mackenzie was 31/36 in net for Ottawa.
Ottawa outshot the Troops 42-36 and went 2/5 on their power play chances, while North Bay were 0/3 on theirs. The game was played in front of 3448 fans at TD Place in Ottawa.
North Bay are back on the ice on Thursday when they take on the Kingston Frontenacs at home for a 7 p.m. puck drop. The Frontline Broadcast will have your postgame show on the North Bay Mitsubishi After Action Report following that game.
You can listen on Spreaker by clicking on this link: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-frontline_1