'Birds Beat Battalion
NORTH BAY, Ont. - Ty Dellandrea scored two goals, including the winner, and added two assists to power the Flint Firebirds to a 5-3 victory Sunday over the North Bay Battalion, handing the Troops a fourth straight Ontario Hockey League loss.
Zacharie Giroux, Ethan Keppen and Jake Durham also scored for Flint, which got 30 saves from goaltender Anthony Popovich. The Firebirds, who dressed 15 skaters, three below the limit, vaulted past the idle Windsor Spitfires into first place in the West Division with a won-lost-extended record of 18-11-0 for 36 points.
Brandon Coe scored two goals and Luke Moncada contributed a goal and two assists for North Bay, 5-23-0 for 10 points, fifth and last in the Central Division. Goaltender Joe Vrbetic faced 33 shots before 1,931 at Memorial Gardens. The Battalion's last win was a 4-3 home-ice decision Nov. 24 over the Niagara IceDogs.
Chad Denault made his Battalion debut after a trade Wednesday from the Peterborough Petes, who received a conditional 15th-round pick in the 2024 OHL Priority Selection.
"I thought we played good in the first period," said Battalion coach Stan Butler. "In the second period, they started to take it to us a bit.
"We had our chances to win. We made some mental mistakes. The margin for error for us, being a young team, isn't that much."
Giroux opened the scoring at 7:03 of the first period after Pacey Schlueting turned over the puck in front of Vrbetic. Giroux's attempt to pass the disc across the goalmouth deflected off the skate of defender James Mayotte back to Giroux, who shoveled it inside the right post.
Coe was credited with North Bay's first goal, at 18:30, as he caught up to a loose puck deep on the right wing and put it in front, where it appeared to be redirected by Brad Chenier, but he and Moncada received assists.
The Troops outshot the visitors 19-8, with most of their good chances coming in the second half of the period. Popovich blocked a left-point shot by Paul Christopoulos as well as Kyle Jackson's and Mason Primeau's attempts at the rebound on the power play in the ninth minute. Chenier, Denault, Mitchell Russell, Josh Currie and Simon Rose were among those who tested Popovich the rest of the way. Vrbetic denied Cody Morgan in close in the seventh minute, and Jack Wismer missed the net on an earlier three-on-one rush.
Coe connected at 1:32 of the second period as he charged to the net, got behind Tyler Deline and converted a Moncada pass for an eighth goal on the season, but Dellandrea replied on the power play at 7:50, one-timing a pass from Morgan over Vrbetic's glove from the left-wing circle.
A neutral-zone turnover led to Flint's third goal, at 15:12, as Dellandrea passed the puck to Keppen, who slid it past Vrbetic's left pad on a play on which the Firebirds had too many men on the ice.
Vrbetic, who faced 14 shots in the frame, turned away Keppen, Durham, Connor Roberts and Riley McCourt, and Brennan Othmann missed an open net from close range.
Dellandrea struck again at 5:50 of the third period, three seconds after the expiration of a Battalion bench minor for too many men. It was Dellandrea's team-leading 17th goal and what proved to be the winner.
Moncada pulled the Troops within 4-3 at 10:34, driving to the net and burying his own rebound at the left side of the crease. Chenier, with his second, and Mayotte had the assists on Moncada's team-high 13th goal.
Durham capitalized with the man advantage at 17:41, tipping Morgan's left-point shot behind Vrbetic. Referee Ryan Harrison, who worked with Aaron Neely, conferred with the video goal judge as to whether it was a high stick, but the goal stood.
The Battalion plays host to the Erie Otters at 7 p.m. Thursday.
BATTALION BULLETS: The teams completed their season series, after Flint won 6-3 at home Oct. 19. The Battalion's last losing record against the franchise occurred in 2013-14, when the Troops went 0-1-1 against the predecessor Plymouth Whalers. In five seasons ending in 2018-19, North Bay went 8-2-0 ... In 232 games, Chenier has 66 goals and 73 assists for 139 points, tied with Aaron Van Leusen for 21st place on the Battalion's career list ... Moncada played his 200th OHL game, his 163rd with the Troops since a trade June 27, 2017, from the Guelph Storm. He has 30 goals and 33 assists for 63 points with North Bay ... The Battalion went 0-for-5 on the power play. Flint was 2-for-5 ... Opening lines included Moncada centring left winger Chenier and right winger Coe, Primeau pivoting left winger Jackson and right winger Russell and Cameron Peters centring left winger Harrison Caines and right winger Denault. Liam Arnsby centred left winger Currie and right winger Alex Christopoulos ... The Battalion was without Ryan Thompson, Niki Korpialho and Christian Cicigoi ... With Cicigoi sidelined by a practice injury, Owen Wray backed up Vrbetic. Wray, a 15th-round pick in the OHL Priority Selection in April, was called up from the North Bay Trappers major midgets ... Among the missing for Flint were Vladislav Kolyachonok and Evgeniy Oksentyuk, both with Belarus for a lower-level world junior tournament, Evan Vierling and Ryan Bangs.
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Ontario Hockey League Stories from December 8, 2019
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- Fronts Fall to Petes in Second Game of Back to Back - Kingston Frontenacs
- Chayka and Steklov Representing Russia at World Junior A Challenge - Guelph Storm
- Preview: Firebirds Wrap-Up Road Trip in North Bay Sunday - Flint Firebirds
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