A Dalyn Wakely power play goal was the difference on Saturday night as the Troops picked up their lone win of the weekend in a 6-3 victory over the Owen Sound Attack.
North Bay (11-8-4-1) had just given up the tying goal a few moments earlier when James Petrovski (1) scored at 11:37 after the Troops were putting together a very good defensive third period, including killing a crucial penalty earlier in the frame.
But despite the Attack seemingly gaining momentum, the Troops turned to their potent offense at 14:12 to hand themselves their third lead of the night. With the man advantage the Battalion worked the puck around the zone until Ty Nelson set up Wakely for a one-timer and he did not miss, blasting the puck for his first goal in eight games, and his eighth of the season to make it 4-3 North Bay.
Nelson would get three assists on the evening, giving him 26 points through his first 23 games this year. The Seattle Kraken prospect has also been held off the scoresheet just once since October 29th. He’s put up seven goals and eight assists over the 12-game stretch.
The Troops added an insurance goal 20 seconds later when Brice Cook (4) fired a slap shot from the high slot that needed a replay review to confirm it actually went it, as play continued for a few minutes after Cooks initial shot.
The team's leading scorer Anthony Romani added an empty net goal at 17:05 to pick up his 19th of the season and 50th career OHL goal in his 143rd game. Romani had his four-game point streak interrupted after being held off the scoresheet in Friday nights loss to Guelph, but he got back on with the late goal Saturday, giving him eight goals in his last six games played.
The win gives the Troops the season series sweep over the Attack as they also won 3-1 at home back on October 9th, but it was a hard earned two points for North Bay in a back-and-forth affair in Owen Sound, who fell to 12-10-2-0 with the loss.
Playing their third game in three nights, the Battalion put together a very good opening 15 minutes, coming on particularly strong towards the end of the frame, making things difficult for the Attack in their own end. They put together several good shifts where they cycled the puck well, got good clean looks on net and collected their own rebounds, not letting Owen Sound have any easy exits outside the zone.
Unfortunately, it was once again a bad play in the defensive zone that led to the opponents getting the first goal of the game, something that has hampered the Battalion a few too many times over the last few weeks. North Bay had control of the puck behind their own net, but inadvertently gave it away in front of the crease, leading to Cedrick Guindon (13) getting control and firing over the blocker side of Battalion netminder Dom DiVincentiis for the opening marker of the game at 17:10.
Romani was asked during the intermission about the goaltending matchup and having a game plan against Carter George.
“We know he’s a good goalie and I think we just need to keep putting pucks towards the net and keep shooting on him.”
The Battalion did precisely that in the first period and did not go away quietly after giving up the first goal, firing 17 shots on George in the opening 20 minutes and were able to answer back before the end of the period. Owen Van Steensel (11) took the puck in over the blue line and ripped a shot from the top of the far side circle and seemingly froze George in his tracks as he barely had time to react to the powerful blast from the third year forward Van Steensel, tying the game 1-1 at 18:04.
Van Steensel’s linemate Romani spoke to the OHL tonight broadcast about the goal.
“We’re going to use that goal as momentum. We’ve got a tie game and two periods to play, and we just have to go into it with that mentality that we have the momentum.”
The Troops came out of the gate once again on a mission, but George was up to the task making several key stops throughout the first half of the period, including stopping Nelson on a one-on-one rush into the zone with the Battalion on the power play around the 12-minute mark of the period. That was followed up by a Justin Ertel breakaway chance at 14:29 which George also stopped, but it led to the Troops getting the puck moving around the attacking zone and the pressure proved to be too much for the Attack as Jacob Therrien (9) picked up a loose puck off a rebounded shot from Captain Liam Arnsby and Therrien put it past George to give the Troops a 2-1 lead at 14:39.
The lead would not last long as the Attack’s Landen Hookey fired a puck on net from the high slot and it found its way through to even things up 2-2 at 16:29.
The back-and-forth affair would swing back into the Troops favour two minutes later. 2023 first round pick Carter Kostuch got control of the puck along the end boards and made no hesitation to throw it into the right side circle to Arnsby who went down to one knee to shoot the puck glove side, which George could not get his glove on, giving the Captain his fourth goal of the season at 18:31. The goal is the 85th career OHL point for the Florida Panthers prospect, to go along with an assist earlier in the game and hand Arnsby first star of the game honours. Arnsby now has points in five of his last six games with three goals and three assists.
The Attack were looking for the equalizer early on in the third period and got a power play opportunity before the five-minute mark, but DiVincentiis made a couple of big stops to stymie that chance by the Attack, keeping his team ahead.
DiVincetiis (6-5-1-0) looked like he was back to his usual self, putting together his best game since his return from his injury turning aside 29 shots and earning his first win since October 22nd. The Winnipeg Jets draft pick was initially injured on October 29th in the second period of an eventual 5-4 Troops win. In the two games since his injury, DiVincetiis had given up an uncharacteristic 11 goals against in two games, although in the loss this past Friday against London, three of the five goals he allowed were on the power play and one of them was the result of his own defender taking him out of the play.
But all of that can be seemingly swept under the rug now as the Bolton, Ontario born DiVincentiis came up big when needed, in a much-needed win that nets the Troops their only two points of the weekend.
This was the second of five straight road games for the Battalion, who will play three more times on the road next weekend. Romani was asked about their tough stretch and how the team approaches a bevy of road games on the schedule. He said, “We’re not too worried about it, it’s something we’ve done a lot over the years, and we just have to play the same way we do at home as we do on the road.”
After tonight’s game the Battalion are 6-3-3-1 on the road this season and will go through Kingston, Peterbourough and Ottawa next weekend.