IceDogs Blank Battalion
NORTH BAY, Ont. - Philip Tomasino scored two goals and added an assist as the Niagara IceDogs blanked the North Bay Battalion 6-0 Tuesday night in Ontario Hockey League first-round playoff action.
Ivan Lodnia scored one goal and assisted on two, Jack Studnicka had one goal and one assist and Andrew Bruder and Oliver Castleman also scored for Niagara, which took a lead of two games to one in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal. Goaltender Stephen Dhillon made 20 saves for his second playoff shutout, after a 2-0 home-ice decision in the series opener last Thursday night.
Goaltender Christian Propp faced 51 shots before a Memorial Gardens crowd of 2,302 for North Bay, which plays host to Niagara in Game 4 at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"We weren't up to the task to start the game, and we fell behind and chased the game the whole time after that," said assistant coach Adam Dennis of the Troops, who trailed 2-0 and 3-0 in the intermissions.
"We didn't convert tonight. We needed a little bit more execution. We have to get a lot of pucks on their net. (Propp) has done his job. He's given us a chance, and that's all you can ask from your goalie. Our group is resilient. We don't expect to be an easy out."
Bruder struck first at 3:38 of the first period as he took advantage of a bad change and raced into Battalion territory to beat Propp from the right-wing circle. Tomasino was credited with a goal at 12:59 when his attempt to pass the puck to Castleman at the lip of the crease glanced off defender Braden Henderson's skate into the net.
Propp, who faced 22 shots in the frame, denied late scoring chances for Bruder and Tomasino and challenged Studnicka alone in the slot. Propp sprawled in the crease to stop Matt Brassard's drive while Ben Jones looked for the rebound.
The Battalion put nine shots on Dhillon. Brad Chenier tried to jam the puck inside the left post on a wraparound in the 14th minute, and Daniel Walker tried to convert a Brandon Coe pass at the lip of the crease in the 17th.
Niagara's Jacob Paquette was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct at 1:10 of the second period after dumping Justin Brazeau heavily into the end boards.
IceDogs penalty killers had several chances. Propp foiled Studnicka on a breakaway and made two close-range saves on Jones after he won a faceoff to the goaltender's right. Studnicka broke in alone again, drawing a delayed penalty for hooking to Theo Calvas. Lodnia, trailing the play, took a pass from Studnicka and scored a shorthanded goal at 4:51.
Mitchell Russell drilled the puck off the crossbar on North Bay's extended power play, and Dhillon slid to block a Chenier drive from the right circle. Dhillon, who faced seven shots, denied Luke Burghardt on a rush off the right wing and produced two stops against Coe. Walker fired wide on a breakaway in the 13th minute.
Niagara had 13 shots in the period. Propp turned away penalty killer Jones in the 11th minute, stopped a Brassard drive with the IceDogs on the power play in the 19th and snared a Jason Robertson effort in the last minute.
Studnicka capitalized on a Henderson turnover in the third period, scoring his second goal of the series high to the stick side at 9:46. Castleman drove to the net and steered a Tomasino pass around Propp's right pad at 12:15, and Tomasino connected with the man advantage at 17:53 after a feud that saw Walker issued a slashing major and a game misconduct.
Calvas was handed a roughing minor and misconduct, while Niagara's Drew Hunter took a roughing call in the fracas, which was sparked by Studnicka slashing Walker, who retaliated on Robertson.
BATTALION BULLETS: Canadore College Recruitment Night saw one person win a year's tuition in a second-intermission contest ... The crowd was the smallest for a Battalion home playoff game at North Bay. The previous low was 2,416 who saw a 6-3 loss to the Kingston Frontenacs in Game 4 of a conference quarterfinal March 29, 2018 ... The Troops last were shut out at home in a playoff game April 14, 2016, in a 6-0 loss to the Barrie Colts in Game 4 of a conference semifinal ... The Battalion was blanked for a second time in a playoff series for the second time in franchise history. The Toronto St. Michael's Majors posted two shutouts in taking a 2004 conference semifinal in five games ... The Battalion has a won-lost record of 13-20 in the third game of a playoff series, including 6-7 at home. The Troops' last Game 3 win occurred April 28, 2015, when they defeated the visiting Oshawa Generals 2-1 in overtime in the conference final ... Propp, a native of Oakville, Ont., marks his 20th birthday Wednesday ... The Battalion went 0-for-4 on the power play. Niagara was 1-for-6 ... The Battalion was without Pacey Schlueting, Travis Mailhot and Kurtis Evans ... Lodnia leads series scoring with one goal, three assists and four points ... Niagara scratches included Kirill Maksimov and Kyen Sopa ... The referees were Mike Marley and Pat Myers ... Game 5 at Niagara at 7 p.m. Friday is to be televised nationally on Rogers Sportsnet.
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