A second straight loss for the North Bay Battalion has some silver linings to draw from for a team that still has a tough stretch ahead of them after falling 3-1 to the Storm in Guelph on Friday night.
For starters the Battalion had a much better start than they did one night ago in an eventual 6-3 loss to the London Knights at home. The Battalion found themselves trailing 3-0 after the first seven minutes of the game. But one night later, the Battalion played a much better first period as they held Guelph to just five shots on net and recorded nine of their own. They put good pressure on the Storm and came away with a few good chances, but unfortunately they couldn’t get a puck passed Storm netminder Brayden Gillespie (10-6-0-1)
The Troops couldn’t keep that momentum going in the second as the Storm (12-8-0-1) opened the scoring early when Max Namestnikov (12) buried a rebound past Robertson just 57 seconds into the second frame. The play came off a bad turnover at the Battalion blue line which allowed Charlie Paquette to lead a 2-on-1 rush into the zone. Paquette got the initial shot off towards Battalion goaltender Charlie Robertson who made a shoulder save, but the defensemen in front of Robertson couldn’t clear the puck, allowing Namestnikov, (Sarnia’s 1st round pick, 3rd overall in 2020) to get the goal. Namestnikov came into the game after scoring a goal and an assist against North Bay. The last time these two teams met up earlier this year, in a 4-1 Guelph win on October 26th in North Bay.
Robertson (2-2-3-1) didn’t get much help on the second goal of the game, coming at the 5:30 mark of the second period. scores. Vilmer Alriksson brought the puck into the zone, fed it across the blue line to Leo Serlin, who passed it back in front of the net to a wide open Zackary Sandhu (2) who tipped it in. It was a really smooth play the Storm pulled off, the type of play the Battalion have been allowing to happen to often as of late.
But another silver lining in this game is that that goal by Sandhu was the last one the Storm got in the game (before the empty net goal) and that shows some major improvement as it’s the first time in five games they have allowed less than four goals against, and really, you can drop that number down to two considering the last one came with no one in net for North Bay.
The Battalion (10-8-4-1) also showed no quit in this game, battling back to cut the lead in half in the third period. At 9:24, defenseman Paul Christopoulos shot a puck from the blue line towards the Storm net which got deflected by Lirim Amidovski (3) to make it a 2-1 game. The Battalion would outshoot the Storm 12-5 in the third and 31-19 overall in the game but couldn’t solve Gillespie in the back half of the third, allowing Braeden Bowman (7) to score the empty net goal.
The game was played in front of 4726 fans at the Sleeman Centre. North Bay was 0/3 on the Power Play and 1/1 on the Penalty Kill.
The road trip continues for the Troops with a visit to Owen Sound tomorrow night to wrap up the three games in three days for this weekend. They won’t have long to unpack their suitcases though, as the Troops will be right back on the road for three games in two and a half days next week with visits to Kingston Friday night, Peterborough Saturday night and Ottawa Sunday afternoon.