Rangers Repel Battalion
KITCHENER, Ont. - Chase Campbell and Nick McHugh scored goals 39 seconds apart in the third period to lift the Kitchener Rangers to a 4-2 victory Friday night over the North Bay Battalion, handing the Troops a fifth straight Ontario Hockey League loss.
Riley Damiani had one goal and two assists, while Alexey Lipanov provided the other goal. McHugh added one assist and Greg Meireles had three as Rangers goaltender Luke Richardson faced 29 shots before a crowd of 6,650.
Kitchener, which had dropped three consecutive games since a 7-2 road win Nov. 21 over the Flint Firebirds, has a won-lost-extended record of 13-14-2 for 28 points, fourth in the Midwest Division.
Justin Brazeau and Mason Primeau scored for North Bay, while goaltender Christian Propp provided 30 saves as the Troops opened a three-game weekend road trip. The Battalion, 11-16-2 for 24 points, fifth in the Central Division, last won in a 5-2 decision Nov. 23 over the host Mississauga Steelheads.
Luke Burghardt, returning from what looked to be a career-ending spinal condition, was back in his customary position on left wing alongside centre Matthew Struthers and right winger Brazeau. Burghardt was minus-1 with one shot on goal and a high-sticking minor and won both faceoffs he took.
Campbell broke a 2-2 tie when he redirected Kyle Gentles's right-point shot past Propp at 6:06 of the final period. McHugh then capped a pretty passing play off a rush, scoring from the right-wing circle and prompting the Battalion to call a timeout.
North Bay was hampered in its comeback efforts by tripping and hooking penalties to Daniel Walker and Kurtis Evans respectively in the latter half of the period, and the Rangers had three solid chances at the empty net after Propp left for a sixth skater in the last minute.
The Battalion, which trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes, rallied with a pair of goals in the second period, sparked by Brazeau at 7:39. Struthers carried the puck on an odd-man rush and centred it to Brazeau, who paused briefly to gauge his range before ripping the disc home from the slot for his team-leading 26th goal of the season.
Primeau tied it on the power play at 16:55 after missing an open-net setup from Brandon Coe seconds earlier. Primeau redirected Simon Rose's screened blast from the blue line, with Adam McMaster drawing the other assist.
The prone Propp denied Meireles in the goalmouth at 18:57 to preserve the deadlock.
Kitchener scored two goals late in the opening period, the first coming on the power play seven seconds after Payton Vescio went off for a weak tripping call. Lipanov snapped the puck home from the goalmouth for his seventh goal, assisted by Meireles and Damiani.
Damiani struck at 19:22, slipping to the slot to convert a crisp pass from behind the net from McHugh. It was the 13th goal for Damiani, who made his return after missing five games with a shoulder injury.
Theo Calvas hammered a shot out of play behind Richardson at 6:09 after getting loose on the right wing and, fresh from the penalty box, smacked the puck into Kitchener territory, where the Troops applied pressure, with Brazeau and McMaster combining on a threat at the eight-minute mark.
The Battalion faces the Niagara IceDogs at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: Burghardt quit hockey last summer in light of medical advice, but the overager sought other opinions. He was the Battalion's second-highest scorer last season with 28 goals and 43 assists for 71 points in 68 games ... Overage defenceman Cole Cameron, whom the Battalion traded to Kitchener on Wednesday, faced his former teammates after one practice with the Rangers ... Calvas has been named an alternate captain, replacing Cameron to work with Struthers and Brad Chenier under captain Brazeau ... In 229 games, Brazeau has 93 goals and 82 assists for 175 points, tied with Howie Martin for 11th place in franchise history. Brazeau's goals total is seventh all-time, one ahead of Mike Amadio ... In 10 games since a trade from the Guelph Storm, Primeau has six goals and five assists for 11 points. He has four goals and three assists for seven points in the last three games ... The Battalion went 1-for-2 on the power play. Kitchener was 1-for-6 ... North Bay was without Travis Mailhot, Rhys Forhan, David Maier and Cameron Peters ... Walker returned after serving a one-game suspension for removing the helmet of the host Kingston Frontenacs' Matt Hotchkiss in a fight last Friday night ... Meireles has a seven-game points streak in which he has four goals and 12 assists for 16 points ... Damiani has five goals and seven assists for 12 points in his last four games ... Kitchener visits North Bay next Thursday night.
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