Battalion punishes IceDogs
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Owen Van Steensel, Anthony Romani and Dalyn Wakely each had two goals and two assists as the North Bay Battalion thrashed the Niagara IceDogs 12-1 in an Ontario Hockey League game Thursday night.
Ethan Procyszyn and Sandis Vilmanis provided two goals apiece, while Justin Ertel had one goal and two assists and Ihnat Pazii the other goal for North Bay, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 26-16-8 for 60 points, second in the Central Division.
Goaltender Dom DiVincentiis, facing Niagara for the first time this season, made 19 saves before a crowd of 2,369 as the Battalion avenged a 6-4 loss Sunday in the opener of a home-and-home series. The Troops are 8-2-2 in their last 12 games, both regulation losses coming to Niagara.
The Battalion equaled the franchise record for goals in a game, set March 16, 2014, in a 12-1 rout of the visiting Ottawa 67’s, as well as the franchise mark for goals in a period with six in the second stanza. That record was set in the second period of the Ottawa game and matched in the first frame of a 7-3 road win last Dec. 2 over the Peterborough Petes.
Romani ended the night atop the OHL scoring race with a league-leading 44 goals and 38 assists for 82 points in 50 games.
Rafek Dianov scored for Niagara, while starting goaltender Owen Flores, seeing his first action in eight games, allowed seven goals on 29 shots before Charlie Robertson entered in relief, giving up five goals on 25 shots. The IceDogs, who dressed 17 skaters, one below the limit, are 14-28-7 for 35 points, fifth in the division and last in the Eastern Conference.
With the Battalion playing the first of a season-high four straight games at home, Procyszyn opened the scoring at 11:49 of the first period after Andrew LeBlanc staged a breakaway from the blue line only to slide into Flores after being tripped by Urban Podrekar. Procyszyn arrived to put the puck past the goaltender, with Paul Christopoulos drawing the other assist.
The Troops struck for two goals 17 seconds apart in the last minute of the frame, starting at 19:13 when Ertel poked home a rebound that Flores muffed. Jacob LeBlanc had the initial shot from the left point on Ertel’s 18th goal. Niagara then fell victim to a failed clearing attempt by Connor Federkow, and Van Steensel took a centring pass from Romani to snap the disc past Flores from the right circle.
The Battalion poured it on in the middle period, with the six goals on 23 shots, sparked by Vilmanis at 4:18 after Liam Arnsby fed him at the blue line for a break-in, with Ertel also assisting.
Romani scored from beside the right circle off a faceoff, assisted by Van Steensel and Wyatt Kennedy, at 5:26 before Wakely struck at 8:32 during a two-man disadvantage lasting 1:31. Wakely blocked a shot in the Battalion zone and broke away to slip the puck under the diving Flores. It was the second regular-season goal while two men short in franchise history, after Van Steensel’s tally Dec. 29 in an 8-4 road loss to the Sudbury Wolves.
Wakely scored unassisted again at 12:01, connecting from the mid slot off a turnover and ending the night for Flores. Romani greeted Robertson with a breakaway goal 42 seconds later, assisted by Van Steensel and Wakely, and Van Steensel netted his 28th goal at 16:16 off a three-way passing play with Romani and Wakely.
Dianov scored on a two-on-one rush at 3:48 of the third period before Procyszyn backhanded home an Andrew LeBlanc rebound at 10:43. Jacob LeBlanc also assisted on Procyszyn’s 12th goal.
Pazii beat Robertson over the shoulder on the short side off the left wing at 12:14 for a seventh goal on the season, and Vilmanis redirected an Arnsby shot at 18:15. Ertel also assisted on Vilmanis’s 19th goal, his ninth in 12 games since a Jan. 6 trade from the Sarnia Sting.
The Battalion plays host to the Kingston Frontenacs at 3 p.m. Sunday.
BATTALION BULLETS: Talk Today Night presented by Syngenta and Grain Farmers of Ontario saw Jeff Beaudoin, chair of the Canadian Mental Health Association, North Bay and District, and mental health champion Dan take part in the ceremonial faceoff … After five of six meetings, the Battalion has a record of 3-2-0. The teams complete the season series March 3 at North Bay … In 182 career games, Wakely has 75 goals and 82 assists for 157 points, three more than Brad Chenier and 18th in franchise history … The Battalion went 0-for-1 on the power play. Niagara was 0-for-3 … Opening lines featured Wakely centring left winger Van Steensel and right winger Romani, Arnsby centring left winger Ertel and right winger Vilmanis and Procyszyn pivoting left winger Andrew LeBlanc and right winger Jacob Therrien. Brice Cooke centred left winger Pazii and right winger Lirim Amidovski … Defence pairs had Tnias Mathurin with Christopoulos, Bronson Ride with Jacob LeBlanc and Trevor McDowell with Kennedy … The Battalion scratched Brayden Turley, Nolan Laird, Ty Nelson and Stef Forgione … Therrien marked his 18th birthday … Among Niagara’s missing were Mike Levin and Andrew Vermeulen, who served the first game of a two-game suspension issued after drawing an instigating minor, major and game misconduct Sunday for a third-period fight with Procyszyn. Alex Assadourian completed a five-game suspension for actions in a 10-0 loss Jan. 26 at Kingston.