Soo opens two this week
NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion is back home at 7 p.m. Thursday for an Ontario Hockey League date with the formidable Soo Greyhounds.
North Bay, which played its last three games on the road, defeated the Niagara IceDogs 4-3 Saturday night and has a won-lost-extended record of 7-5-4 for 18 points, tied with the Sudbury Wolves for second place in the Central Division. Soo is 11-5-0 for 22 points atop the West Division.
The Battalion completes the week with a Saturday night visit to the Barrie Colts.
“I think they knew they were going to take big steps this year from last year,” Battalion coach Ryan Oulahen said Wednesday of the Greyhounds, who went 20-33-15 for 55 points last season, finishing ninth in the Western Conference.
“They’re a Soo team that’s built on a lot of speed, a lot of skill. They’re able to put the puck in the net a lot, so obviously a tough opponent for us here.”
Left winger Jack Beck paces Soo in scoring with five goals and a team-high 15 assists for 20 points, while defenceman Arttu Karki has a team-leading 13 goals and five assists for 18 points. Each has played 16 games.
The game at Niagara saw the left wingers on the Battalion’s top two lines swapped, with Owen Van Steensel joining centre Liam Arnsby and right winger Brice Cooke while Justin Ertel skated with centre Dalyn Wakely and right winger Anthony Romani. The moves produced two goals and one assist by Wakely, one goal and two assists by Ertel and four assists from Romani.
“We tinkered a little bit with the lines, to get Van Steensel back with Arnsby to see if they can get that old connection going a little bit, and we’ll see what we’ve got. We think that we’ve got really good depth in our third and fourth lines for sure.”
Oulahen noted that Wakely and Romani have had great success in a long pairing.
“When there’s extra skill ice, they’re using it. They’re using it to get better. They love working with each other, so that’s a natural kind of chemistry working for those two.”
Goaltender Charlie Robertson made 19 saves at Niagara to earn his second win of the season and is 2-0-4 in six appearances with a 3.91 goals-against average and an .876 save percentage. Mike McIvor is the other goaltender seeing action while the Troops await the return of Dom DiVincentiis, who suffered an ankle injury in a 5-4 home-ice win Oct. 29 over Sudbury.
Ty Nelson, who has scored in each of the last three games, moved into a tie with Nick Paul for 25th place on the franchise points list with a third-period goal at St. Catharines. In 148 games, Nelson has 39 goals and 101 assists for 140 points, while Paul, a centre and left winger, produced 75 goals and 65 assists in 191 games.
Nelson, the No. 1 choice in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens minor midgets, lost his 16-year-old season to the covid cancellation of the 2020-21 schedule or he would rank higher in Battalion annals.
His 39 goals and 140 points are franchise records for a defenceman. He is tied with Michael Vernace for second all-time in assists, one behind Dylan Blujus’s total of 102.
Veterans will be acknowledged in marking Remembrance Day before the Soo game on Military Appreciation Night presented by Honorary Colonels of 22 Wing. The Military Wives Choir is to perform the national anthem.