Mississauga Prevails 4-2
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Keean Washkurak scored two third-period goals, one into an empty net, and Cole Schwindt had one as the Mississauga Steelheads rallied to a 4-2 Ontario Hockey League victory Friday night over the North Bay Battalion.
Richard Whittaker scored the other goal and Washkurak added an assist for Mississauga, which moved its won-lost-extended record to 10-18-2 for 22 points, fourth in the Central Division. Goaltender Kai Edmonds faced 24 shots before a crowd of 1,753.
Luke Moncada and Braden Henderson scored for North Bay, 6-24-0 for 12 points, fifth and last in the division. Goaltender Joe Vrbetic made 32 saves in the Battalion's first loss under interim head coach Ryan Oulahen after a 4-3 home-ice win Thursday night over the Erie Otters in his bench debut.
Washkurak tied it 2-2 at 10:09 of the final frame when he one-timed the puck home from in front after the bouncing disc foiled several Battalion attempts to clear it.
Schwindt netted the winner at 16:56 after an initial shot by Aidan Prueter hit the right elbow of the ironwork. Schwindt seized the puck from just past the left post and tucked it into the net. The goal survived two reviews by referee Ryan Hutchison, who worked with Joe Monette, with the Troops believing that the Steelheads were guilty of goaltender interference.
Schwindt went off for delay of game at 18:10, and Oulahen sent six attackers out on the power play, but Washkurak escorted the puck all the way into the goalmouth to slide home the shorthanded empty-netter at 19:50.
The Battalion, leading 2-1 early in the period, failed to score on a two-man advantage lasting 1:53, despite a strong showing by the likes of Brandon Coe, who earned two assists, Brad Chenier, Nick Grima and Chad Denault, who took up a position in front of Edmonds.
Moncada opened the scoring on the power play at 7:01 of the second period after Coe fired the puck down the ice from the North Bay zone. Moncada retrieved it on the rebound off the end boards and, alone against Edmonds, slipped the disc between the goaltender's legs on a backhand. Grima had the second assist on Moncada's team-leading 14th goal of the season.
Whittaker replied at 13:29, converting on a screen in the slot off a pass from Washkurak deep on the right wing.
Henderson connected on a left-point lob through traffic at 18:46. Chenier did good work to get the puck deep along the left wing and, after Coe got it, he swooped around the zone to feed Henderson. Coe drew the only assist on defenceman Henderson's second goal.
Cameron Peters and Alex Christopoulos missed on rapid-fire chances against Edmonds in the ninth minute, and Moncada hit the right post in the 15th.
Mississauga forged a 15-6 edge in first-period shots, dominating play before the Battalion battled back. William Portokalis, Nick Isaacson and Ty Collins threatened in the eighth minute, jamming at the puck in the crease of Vrbetic, who countered by laying down the right pad to deny several scoring attempts. The Troops staged their own flurry in the 12th minute, when Chenier, Coe, Moncada, Grima and Henderson fired from all angles.
Chenier appeared to score at 13:30, but the would-be goal was disallowed because of goaltender interference by Coe, precipitating a faceoff offside the Mississauga zone but resulting in no penalty.
The Battalion plays host to the Owen Sound Attack at 2 p.m. Sunday on Wawanesa Toy Drive Day in support of Low Income People Involvement of Nipissing. Fans who donate a new and unwrapped toy will be entered for a draw to win four game tickets and a team-autographed replica sweater. They also will be eligible to win two tickets to the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, to be hosted by the Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets.
BATTALION BULLETS: It was the first of six games between the clubs, with the next Jan. 9 at North Bay. Mississauga was the last opponent the Battalion faced for the first time this season ... The Battalion went 1-for-4 on the power play. Mississauga was 0-for-2 ... North Bay was without James Mayotte and Christian Cicigoi ... With Cicigoi sidelined by injury, Reece Proulx backed up Vrbetic for a second straight game. Proulx was called up from the affiliated junior A Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Canada Hockey League ... Left winger Niki Korpialho left Friday for his native Finland to play there. The Battalion's second-round selection in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft in June had two goals and one assist for three points in 15 games. The Battalion roster now numbers 19 skaters, made up of 12 forwards and seven defencemen ... Mississauga's Nicholas Canade served the seventh of an eight-game suspension he was assessed after a match penalty for checking from behind in a 3-2 road loss Nov. 24 to the Kingston Frontenacs ... The Battalion is holding a used equipment sale from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday outside the team's dressing room near Gate 4 of Memorial Gardens. Among the items available are game-worn gloves, helmets and pants, practice sweaters, game and practice socks and track suits, as well as shin, elbow and shoulder pads. Terms are cash only, with all sales final.
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