Battalion tames Bulldogs
BRANTFORD, Ont. — Anthony Romani scored two goals, including the winner at 5:29 of the third period, as the North Bay Battalion defeated the Brantford Bulldogs 6-4 Saturday to move into a tie with the losers atop the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.
Brice Cooke and Owen Van Steensel each had one goal and one assist, while Justin Ertel and Sandis Vilmanis also scored for North Bay, which improved its won-lost-extended record to 25-15-8 for 58 points, first in the Central Division, one point ahead of the idle Sudbury Wolves.
Goaltender Dom DiVincentiis made 23 saves as the Battalion, which posted a third straight win, opened a two-game road trip before a crowd of 3,157.
Lawson Sherk, Calvin Crombie, Zakary Lavoie and Ben Bujold scored for Brantford, 25-14-8 and first in the East Division. Goaltender David Egorov gave up five goals on 20 shots, as Van Steensel’s goal was an empty-netter.
The teams were tied 2-2 and 4-4 at the intermissions before Romani struck for his league-leading 40th goal of the season in the final frame. Van Steensel centred the puck from the left side, and Romani deked Egorov before slipping the disc past the goaltender’s left leg. Dalyn Wakely also assisted.
With 35 assists for 75 points, Romani regained sole possession of first place in the OHL scoring race.
With Egorov gone for a sixth attacker, Van Steensel fired the puck from his own zone into the vacant net at 19:01. Liam Arnsby had the sole assist.
Ertel opened the scoring at 4:45 of the first period, going to the goalmouth to redirect a Jacob LeBlanc drive from the top of the right circle and having the puck deflect off Daniel Chen. Bronson Ride also assisted on Ertel’s 17th goal.
Cooke connected at 12:14, sweeping the puck home from the right circle off a cross-zone pass from Ethan Procyszyn on a three-on-two rush. It was Cooke’s ninth goal.
Brantford netted two goals 35 seconds apart, sparked by Sherk, who snapped the puck from the right circle at 18:35 on assists by Marek Vanacker and Jake O’Brien after a steal kept the disc in the zone. Crombie then tied it with his 12th goal off a pass from Noah Nelson as a larger odd-man rush shrank to a two-on-one tight to the net.
The Battalion went ahead 3-2 on Romani’s goal at 5:51 of the second period. Wakely intercepted a Noah Roberts clearing attempt in the high slot and fed the puck to Romani, who wired it home from a sharp angle to Egorov’s right.
Vilmanis scored at 9:30, two seconds after a Battalion power play expired. Cooke and Procyszyn assisted as Vilmanis drove off the left wing and beat Egorov high to the short side. It was Vilmanis’s 17th goal, his seventh in 10 games since a trade from the Sarnia Sting.
Brantford again scored two late goals, starting at 14:20 when Lavoie one-timed the rubber from the left faceoff dot during a two-man advantage scheduled to last 1:53 after Tnias Mathurin and Ertel both went off for tripping. Lavoie’s 19th goal, his sixth since a trade from the Niagara IceDogs, was assisted by Patrick Thomas and Tomas Hamara.
Bujold raced down the left wing and scored his 11th goal shorthanded at 17:34.
The Battalion visits Niagara at 4 p.m. Sunday in the opener of a home-and-home series that’s the second of three games making up YourTV Hockey Day in the OHL. It can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700.
BATTALION BULLETS: After the third of four games between the teams, the Battalion is 2-0-1. Brantford prevailed 5-4 in overtime at home Oct. 27, and the Troops won 4-2 at Memorial Gardens on Jan. 4. The season series ends March 14 at North Bay … The Battalion went 0-for-3 on the power play. Brantford was 1-for-4 … Ride has an assist in each of the last five games … Opening lines featured Wakely centring left winger Van Steensel and right winger Romani, Arnsby skating between left winger Ertel and right winger Vilmanis and Procyszyn centring left winger Andrew LeBlanc and right winger Jacob Therrien. Cooke centred left winger Ihnat Pazii and right winger Lirim Amidovski … Defence pairs saw Mathurin with Paul Christopoulos, Ride with Jacob LeBlanc and Trevor McDowell with Wyatt Kennedy … The Battalion was without Brayden Turley, Nolan Laird, Ty Nelson and Stef Forgione … McDowell, who was signed as a free agent from the junior A Trenton Golden Hawks on Nov. 14, played 91 games in one-plus seasons with the Brantford 99ers, fellow members of the Ontario Junior Hockey League … Among the missing for Brantford were Nick Lardis and Owen Protz, who was suspended one game for actions in a 5-3 home-ice win Friday night over Sudbury … Vanacker has a 12-game points streak in which he has 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points … Hamara has a four-game assists streak during which he has five assists … Lacey Senuk and Ben Wilson were the referees.