Battalion beats Barrie 4-2 to grab series lead
NORTH BAY, Ont. – Ryan Kujawinski had one goal and one assist to pace the North Bay Battalion to a 4-2 victory Tuesday night over the Barrie Colts, giving the Troops the lead in the teams’ second-round Ontario Hockey League playoff series.
The Battalion seized a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal, which continues at North Bay at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Nick Moutrey, Ray Huether and Brenden Miller also scored for the Battalion, which got two assists from Alex Henriksson. Goaltender Jake Smith faced 15 shots before a raucous crowd of 3,743 at Memorial Gardens.
Joseph Blandisi had one goal and one assist for Barrie, while Justin Scott also scored for the losers. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 36 saves.
Scott opened the scoring at 5:02 of the first period. Blandisi spun away from Miles Liberati and sent a pass across the crease that an unattended Scott buried as he drove to the net.
The Troops tied it on the power play at 11:56. Mike Amadio slid the puck in front to Moutrey, who slipped it between Blackwood’s pads from the lip of the crease. Nick Paul earned the second assist on Moutrey’s second goal of the playoffs.
Blackwood was the busier of the two goaltenders, facing 16 shots, while Smith dealt with five. Blackwood’s biggest save came in the 17th minute when he got his right pad out to deny a breakaway from penalty killer Zach Bratina. Blackwood also sprawled in the crease in the 19th minute as Brett McKenzie tried to whack at a loose puck.
Huether’s second goal of the postseason put the Troops ahead at 12:05 of the second period as he charged to the net off the left wing and converted a pass from Henriksson. Bratina earned the second assist.
Blandisi replied 1:10 later, whipping an Andrew Mangiapane pass over Smith’s glove from the edge of the right-wing circle.
Miller scored what proved to be the winner at 18:15 as his low shot from the slot found its way through a tangle of bodies and eluded Blackwood. Kujawinski and McKenzie drew assists on defenceman Miller’s third goal of the postseason.
North Bay outshot Barrie 15-5 in the frame, forcing Blackwood to make several key stops. The goaltender foiled Amadio’s net drive in the eighth minute, snared a Huether shot in the 14th and stretched across the crease to deny Kujawinski’s attempt to convert off a two-on-one rush with Henriksson in the 17th.
Kujawinski scored a brilliant goal on the power play at 3:50 of the third period, speeding into Barrie territory, splitting the defence and beating Blackwood with a forehand deke. The goal, Kujawinski’s fourth of the playoffs, was assisted by Henriksson and Kyle Wood.
Smith, who faced five shots in the third period, foiled Brendan Lemieux as he crashed the net in the 12th minute and gloved a Lemieux drive from the left circle in the 15th.
Blackwood went to the bench for a sixth skater with 1:35 left to play, but the Colts never threatened, while Moutrey and Mathew Santos narrowly missed scoring into the empty net.