Niagara merits full focus
NORTH BAY, Ont. — If it ever did, the North Bay Battalion will not be selling the visiting Niagara IceDogs short in their Ontario Hockey League game at 7 p.m. Thursday.
On Jan. 21, Niagara won 3-2 at Memorial Gardens in what shaped up as a trap game for the Troops, coming after a 4-3 overtime win over the host Mississauga Steelheads and before a home-and-home series with the Sudbury Wolves.
On Sunday at the Meridian Centre in the opener of another home-and-home set, the Battalion was ambushed 6-4 a day after an impressive 6-4 road victory over the Brantford Bulldogs.
“Both times we were feeling really good about ourselves going into those games, and you can’t ever get to that point where you feel you’ve already won before the puck is dropped, and I do think we’ve had a little bit of that,” coach Ryan Oulahen acknowledged Wednesday.
“I think our players have owned that. We, for sure, have owned that as coaches, too. It’s on us, so look for us to be better tomorrow.”
North Bay has a won-lost-extended record of 25-16-8 for 58 points, second in the Central Division. Niagara is 14-27-7 for 35 points, fifth in the division and last in the Eastern Conference.
The Battalion is 7-2-2 in its last 11 games, having suffered the regulation losses to Niagara and the extended setbacks to Sudbury. The Battalion completes play this week when it entertains the Kingston Frontenacs at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Ty Nelson, who already has sat out four games in concussion protocol after banging his head on the ice in a 5-4 overtime loss Jan. 26 at Sudbury, will miss both games this week as well.
Anthony Romani paces the Battalion offence and, through games Tuesday night, the OHL with a league-leading 42 goals and 36 assists for 78 points in 49 games, while Dalyn Wakely has 23 goals and a team-high 47 assists for 70 points in 48 games.
Owen Van Steensel has scored 26 goals and earned 31 assists for 57 points in 47 games, and Justin Ertel has 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points in 48 games.
Kevin He leads Niagara scorers with a team-high 24 goals and 18 assists for 42 points in 48 games, while Gavin Bryant has scored 13 goals and added a team-leading 23 assists for 36 points in 42 games. Ryan Roobroeck has 19 goals and 16 assists for 35 points in 43 games.
The Niagara game features Talk Today Night presented by Syngenta and Grain Farmers of Ontario.