Battalion Eliminated in Loss
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - The North Bay Battalion's Ontario Hockey League season ended with a 4-0 loss to the Niagara IceDogs in first-round playoff action Friday night.
Second-place Niagara won the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal four games to one, dropping only the second game of the series on home ice last Saturday night. Niagara will face either the Oshawa Generals or Sudbury Wolves in a conference semifinal.
Jason Robertson and Jack Studnicka each scored one goal and added two assists and Akil Thomas and Jacob Paquette also scored before a sellout crowd of 5,300 at the Meridian Centre. Goaltender Stephen Dhillon made 27 saves for his third shutout of the series, after a 2-0 win in the home-ice opener and a 6-0 blanking in Game 3 at North Bay.
Goaltender Christian Propp of the seventh-place Battalion provided 53 saves in the game, which was telecast nationally on Sportsnet 360.
Niagara, leading 2-0 through 40 minutes, took a firm grip on the game with Paquette's goal at 8:37 of the third period. Robertson and Studnicka set up the tally on a three-way passing play off a rush that saw defenceman Paquette beat Propp high to the glove side from the mid slot.
Studnicka added the last goal on the power play at 13:25. Propp sprawled in the crease to deny Thomas and Ben Jones, but the puck eventually came loose at the left post, where Studnicka shoveled it home.
The IceDogs carried the early play in the period, with Propp getting the right pad on a Jones shot on a drive up the middle in the fourth minute before North Bay's Brandon Coe missed a gaping net off a rebound in the sixth. Matthew Struthers had a good chance with the Battalion shorthanded in the 15th minute, but Dhillon parried a drive from the deep slot with the blocker.
Robertson, the OHL scoring champion, struck first on the power play at 3:52 of the first period as the IceDogs skated four against three. Studnicka passed the puck across the zone to Robertson for a one-timer snap shot from the right-wing circle and his second goal of the series. Matt Brassard had the other assist.
Harsh feelings from the previous game appeared to have carried over when the Battalion's Luke Burghardt fought Andrew Bruder at 1:31 of the frame. Harrison Caines and Niagara's Kyen Sopa followed with coincidental roughing calls at 3:14 before Justin Brazeau barreled into Dhillon at 3:38, giving Niagara the man advantage on which Robertson capitalized.
Dhillon put his stick between Daniel Walker's legs in Niagara's 5-3 win in Game 4 at North Bay on Thursday night, precipitating a melee in which Walker pummeled the goaltender.
Propp snagged a threat by Johnathon Schaefer pinching deep from the left point at 9:22 and survived a last-minute Niagara flurry that saw Bruder and Jones trying to convert a loose puck in the crease.
The IceDogs exerted pressure in the opening minutes of the second period before the Troops pushed back, but it was Niagara that connected next, with Thomas scoring on the power play at 11:52 after Mason Primeau was victimized by a butter-soft high-sticking call by referee Quincy Evans. The puck was turned over to Thomas in the goalmouth, and he corralled it and swept it into the gaping net to Propp's right.
Propp made several stellar stops in the period, in which the Battalion was outshot 23-9. He denied Ivan Lodnia on a short-range rip at the puck in the sixth minute, covered the rubber in the crease with Oliver Castleman lurking in the seventh and snared two shots by Brassard on the man advantage that Thomas converted. Propp denied Bradey Johnson as the trailer on a three-on-two rush in the 14th minute.
BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion has won 15 of 33 playoff series in its 21-year history, including six of 11 since moving to North Bay from Brampton for the 2013-14 season. The Troops have a won-lost record of 76-95 in playoffs, including 36-51 on the road and 0-1 in a neutral-site game ... Brad Chenier, Theo Calvas and Primeau led the Troops in series scoring with three points apiece in five games. Chenier had two goals and Calvas and Primeau one each ... The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Niagara was 3-for-6 ... Opening lines included Struthers centring left winger Chenier and right winger Brazeau, Primeau centring left winger Burghardt and right winger Mitchell Russell and Luke Moncada pivoting left winger Walker and right winger Coe. Cameron Peters centred left winger Caines and right winger Patrick Brown ... The Battalion was without Pacey Schlueting, Travis Mailhot and Kurtis Evans ... Niagara was without Jonah De Simone, Kirill Maksimov and Matthew Philip, who suffered a skate cut to the forehead in the fourth game and spent Thursday night in hospital at North Bay ... Jake Uberti returned to the Niagara lineup ... Studnicka led the IceDogs in scoring in the series with four goals and four assists for eight points in five games, while Philip Tomasino had three goals and as many assists for six points in the five games ... Mike Cairns was the other referee.
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Ontario Hockey League Stories from March 29, 2019
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- IceDogs Battle Adversity in 5-3 Game 4 Win over Troops - Niagara IceDogs
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