It was a rough Sunday afternoon at North Bay’s Memorial Gardens, at least for the Battalion that calls that ice home.
The Troops welcomed the Ottawa 67’s, a team that holds 59 points on North Bay (97 to 38) in Eastern Conference standings heading into the game, but the last meeting went to the Battalion 6-2. Ottawa came out of the gate flying this time around, however, with Jack Quinn scoring 5:02 in the first. The 67’s didn’t look back as they took this one 8-0.
“I think the best part right now is we can forget about it, as quick as possible,” Battalion interim head coach Ryan Oulahen said shortly after the final buzzer. “We had a hard time generating a lot today. We got in trouble with going to the penalty box way too often. It was a real tough day so the best thing to do, at this point of the year, is to not dwell on it.”
“The last time we played them in their rink, they gave us a piece of humble pie and we were a better team for it,” he continued. “I’m thinking we are going to be way better for this and a much better team for this.”
The game Oulahen is referring to was a 9-1 drubbing by the 67’s. As previously mentioned, the Troops would win 6-2 over the same team 11 days later, the start of a stretch that would see more consistent play from North Bay leading to the re-emergence in the playoff picture.
In the third, while killing off a five-on-three powerplay, the Battalion survived a scare to captain Luke Moncada. Arguably one of the best penalty-killers in the league, Moncada blocked a shot that got him just above the wrist and looked to be in pain. Instead of skating to the bench, the captain finished his shift while the team was down 7-0, something Oulahen says is invaluable to the team.
“That’s why he is the guy running the show, running the ship,” Oulahen stated. “We get a lot from him. Later in the game, he had chances and it goes through our whole bench. We didn’t quit today and Moncada is a big reason for that.”
The silver lining to this game is that the two teams North Bay is chasing for the eighth and final playoff spot, Kingston and Niagara, lost as well. The Frontenacs fell 8-0 to Sudbury, while Peterborough walked all over the IceDogs 12-1.
“This is a positive weekend for us and that’s why I don’t want to dwell on this game too much,” said Oulahen. “We have to stay positive at this point. We’re scratching and clawing and we gained a couple more points this weekend and no matter how you slice it, it’s a positive for us and we are going to take it into the next two weeks for us.”