Kingston Frontenacs vs North Bay Battalion
Where: Leon’s Centre in Kingston
Time: 7 PM
North Bay Battalion: 5-20-0-0 10 pts (5th Central Div / 10th East Conf)
Kingston Frontenacs: 5-15-2-2 14 pts (5th East Div / 9th East Conf)
The Kingston Frontenacs had their four-game win streak halted at the hands of the Ottawa 67’s on Wednesday and looked to get back on the winning track against North Bay Battalion on Friday night at the Leon’s Centre. With the Battalion playing in a loss in Peterborough on Thursday (6-1), Kingston would look to drive the play against a team travelling off a game the previous night. North Bay had one win on the road so far as they made their first visit to Kingston.
With Kingston sitting three points back of Mississauga, it is vitally important that Kingston take advantage of a team below them in the standings should they stay in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While both clubs don’t have high-octane offences, North Bay had allowed a league-high 136 goals against entering Friday’s game with both clubs having 72 goals team-goals for. It marked the first of four matchups between the conference foes on the year.
Shane Wright came into the game on five-game point streak (5G,3A) and Dustin Hutton had registered (1G,6A) on a six-game streak. Zayde Wisdom led the team with 13 goals and 21 points in what continues to be a solid sophomore campaign for the power forward teamed up with Wright since game one. Wright and Francesco Arcuri would face three of their former teammates from Don Mills Flyers in Paul, Alex Christopoulos, and Liam Arnsby all selected in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.
A former member of the Battalion from 2017/18 – 2018/19, Christian Propp was in the net to face his former teammates. He’s been excellent posting a with a 2-1-0-1 record since the move. Nick King, traded from North Bay to Kingston in October is also looked forward to facing some old mates. King commented on 2020 NHL prospect Brandon Coe saying: “He’s a fantastic player, he’s one of the best I’ve played with, we’ll need to be aware when he’s on the ice.”
Maddox Callens continues to progress in his first OHL season and comes into Friday’s game off a strong performance Wed against Ottawa winning the Hardest Working Player award voted by fans on the CHL app. In 21 games, the 3rd round selection last summer has 3 points and 17 penalty minutes scoring his second of the season on a nice backhand vs the 67’s on Wednesday.
The high-energy forward has shown signs of offence we may future while providing a physical presence being a relentless puck-chaser for coach Kurtis Foster. “You just keep wanting to play more all the time,” says Foster on his rookie forward. “He plays with an edge, he plays physical and keeps it simple and doesn’t get flustered by the combativeness of the OHL. He’s earning everything he’s got so far.” Callens spoke to me after practice Thursday saying: “I feel I am getting better each time I step on the ice, just trying to improve in practice and in games, though It’s always a challenge when your 16 in this league.
On the North Bay game, he added: “If we can play physical on their D and play below the goal it should be a good outcome.”
It was Teddy Bear Toss night at Leon’s Centre as fans came prepared to litter the ice with plush toys and although they had to wait, it was worth it. With Kingston looking to get the hop on a team that had played the night before, it was North Bay coming out hard pushing the entire first period against the home side leaving the opening frame with a 3-0 lead. However, Kingston would not give in and come back for an exciting 4-3 win with a last-minute goal by a future star.
Christian Propp would face his former team in goal for Kingston while North Bay countered with Joe Vrbetic. After two penalties were killed by Kingston, North Bay opened the scoring at 12:19 when Mitchell Russell beat Propp with a wrist shot for the 1-0 goal. Kingston would go on the powerplay at 12:36 looking to square the score up, however, it was North Bay scoring their 7th short-handed goal of the season at 13:57 to go up 2-0 just 1:23 after the initial strike on Luke Moncada’s 12th goal for North Bay.
North Bay went up 3-0 at 17:03 on the powerplay with Lucas Rowe in the box on a tripping call. Brad Chenier’s 12th was a tipped shot past Propp leaving the Leon’s Centre stunned down by three in the first to a club lower in the standings. The teams skated off to the 1st intermission with North Bay holding an 11-6 shot advantage.
The second period would see the Teddy Bear Toss night reach its peak at 6:57 when Justin Pringle sent the bears raining down on the ice bringing the game to a 3-1 score. Pringle went in alone on Vrbetic and made a nice deke before putting it past the North Bay goaltender on his forehand for his first of the season. Kallaway Mercer made a beautiful play drawing the Battalion defender to him before dishing off to Pringle. Braden Hache also assisted on the play for his first OHL point making a strong outlet pass to Mercer.
Kingston was much more stingy in their zone allowing the Battalion only 7 shots including a stretch of just over 10 minutes where North Bay could not get a shot on Propp. Kingston managed nine consecutive shots on goal during the stretch but could not get one past Vrbetic to close the score to one goal and the teams went to the second intermission with North Bay holding onto the 3-1 lead.
The third saw Kingston take over the game holding North Bay to just seven shots again including a stretch of 10 minutes holding Battalion shooters from any chances on Propp. With Nick King off for slashing at 6:23, Evan Brand and rookie Liam Arnsby squared off in a fight at 8:08 that may have sparked Kingston even more. Less than a minute later at 9:27, Zayde Wisdom scored off a sweet pass from Nick Wong. Wisdom played give-and-go with Wong and buried his team-leading 14th over the left shoulder of Vrbetic to bring Kingston within one 3-2. Wisdom is now tied for 13th on the OHL goal chart.
Lucas Peric would hit the post at 11:25 almost squaring the game up. And then with continued offensive-zone pressure, it was a tie game 3-3 at 12:09 when Jordan Frasca hooked up with Jake Murray and Jakob Brahaney. After Frasca collected the puck behind the net, he made a nice pass to Murray at the blueline who quickly fired a shot on Vrbetic and Frasca banged home the rebound to send the home crowd into a frenzy. It was Brahaney’s team-leading 15th assist as he continues to be a catalyst with King from the blueline.
With it being Shane Wright autograph night at Leon’s Centre after the game, it proved to be a fitting end. With under a minute left, the rookie scored his goal to give the Frontenacs the 4-3 lead and ultimate win. Wright entered the Battalion zone and dished off to Wisdom who immediately sent a pass back to the rookie who went in alone and subtly faked a forehand shot before crossing the crease and backhanding the winner past the Battalion goalie with 54 seconds left. He has scored three game-winning goals already in his young OHL career and continues to impress as a 15-year-old.
Coach Foster said after the game, “the first was disappointing cause we talked about in our game-plan about what we needed to do. We needed to get pucks deep, get it behind their D, but we seemed to try and make too cute plays in the 1st period.” He was impressed however with the fight his club has shown all year. “The boys were resilient, we talked about it before the third period about who wants to be the hero and it’s not going to be the guy who necessarily scores the winner, but someone who drives the net and bangs in a rebound, somebody who screens a goalie, guys taking hits to make plays. It was those plays (cumulatively) that make a difference.”
The Three Stars:
- KGN – Wisdom (1G,1A)
- KGN – Wright (GWG)
- KGN – King (Solid play and moved the puck well, +1 and 2 shots)
Hardest Worker (voted by fans on CHL App):
Braden Hache – scores 1st OHL point
Hache said after the game,” Confidence has been huge for us. A huge team win for us as we know how important that game was.” On registering his point the hardworking 2019 4th round selection commented,” It’s a pretty cool feeling, something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, playing in this league and finally getting that first point is huge for me. It’s not something I’m focused on, but it’s nice to have that and be a part of that especially on the cool goal to have the Teddy Bear’s be thrown after that.”
Foster spoke on his young defenceman:” He seems every game you put him in he gets more and more confident with the puck. He’s not afraid to play with physicality and win battles.”
KGN – Luke Drewitt remained out day-to-day with an upper-body injury
NB – Paul Christopoulos – suspended
The Frontenacs head to Oshawa on Sunday at 6:05 PM to face the Generals for the 4th time of the season with Oshawa winning all three previous matchups.
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