The Kingston Frontenacs picked up a big two-points on Friday night with a 4-2 win over the North Bay Battalion moving them within one point of Niagara for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East Conference. Dawson Baker would add to his career-high goal total with his16th while being a force physically all game long including blocking three key shots and drawing penalties. Ryan Dugas turned away 19 shots for Kingston’s 17th win on the season and the goaltenders’ sixth win his last nine starts.
Where: Leon’s Centre in Kingston
Time: 7 p.m.
North Bay Battalion: 49 GP: 11-36-2-0(24 pts – 5th Central Div. / 10th Eastern Conf.)
Kingston Frontenacs: 48 GP: 16-28-2-2 (36 pts – 5th East Div. / 9th Eastern Conf.)
Kingston has gained eight points on Niagara in the last 10 games to position themselves with a chance to go ahead of the IceDogs with a good weekend. Playing a team below them in the standings makes the game critical for Kingston when you factor tonight’s game was a game-in-hand match as Niagara was idle and a win would get Kingston within one point of the elusive final spot.
Kingston had beaten North Bay in both matchups this season including a 6-3 win in the last matchup on Feb 2 in North Bay. Over the last month, both teams seem headed in different directions. North Bay has only two wins in their last 14 and has given up 30 goals during a current five-game losing streak. Kingston has been more stingy allowing only 16 goals-against while winning three of their last five.
Brandon Coe leads North Bay scorers with 46 points while Luke Moncada is having a great season with 27 goals so far.
Shane Wright, Zayde Wisdom, and Martin Chromiak have been on fire since the arrival of Chromiak from Slovakia shortly after Christmas. Wright has 5 goals and six points in a three-game point streak with 11 goals and 16 points in his last 10 games.
Game-Night Stat Check:
- Shane Wright leads OHL rookie scoring (48), goals (30) and rookie powerplay goals (7)
- Wright (19.9 percent) and Chromiak (22.2 percent) both sit in top three for OHL rookie shooting percentage
The Frontenacs came out with some energy out of the gate getting the games first four shots and forcing Battalion starter Joe Vrbetic into making some good saves. Kingston would get an early powerplay but couldn’t connect.
North Bay had a powerplay opportunity of their own with Vitali Pinchuk off at 8:07, but Kingston’s improved penalty-killing units held the 17th ranked Battalion powerplay off the board. Dawson Baker would give Kingston the opening goal at 13:21 on a nice shot to beat Vrbetic in the North Bay net. After Jordan Frasca made a nice rush around a Battalion defender, he fired a wrist shot that Vrbetic initially stopped but the rebound was picked up by an attacking Frasca who centered a pass to a trailing Baker who beat the goaltender with a wrist shot past this blocker for his 16th goal of the season. Rookie Maddox Callens also drew an assist on the play. Head Coach Kurtis Foster described Baker’s game: “He seems to do well when he plays with Frasca and having the Hutton line that had been playing well gives us some depth. Dawson puts his body on the line he’s willing to block shots, its awesome to see its great for our young guys. Its pretty fun to watch.”
Just over two minutes later, Nick Wong made a fantastic flip pass to a charging Francesco Arcuri who beat two defenders to the puck as it fell in the North Bay zone. After picking up the pass just shy of the face-off circle he deked around the attempted poke check by Vrbetic to give Kingston the 2-0 lead. The goal at 15:44 was the rookies’ sixth goal with Wong drawing the assist increasing his point streak to three games.
Kingston held a healthy 13-6 shots-on-goal advantage heading to the first intermission.
Combined with the last six minutes of the first period, Kingston held stingy not allowing any North Bay shots for another six minutes to start the second for an 11-minute span holding North Bay shooters away from Dugas.
Kingston would go on their third powerplay at 8:55 and Kingston would increase their lead with their second powerplay goal of the game to take a 3-0 lead. Just one second before the Battalion penalty expired, Pinchuk was able to scoop up a rebound on a quick Jake Murray shot and beat Vrbetic low for his seventh. Baker was instrumental in getting a good screen on the Battalion goalie not allowing him to track the Murray wrister and allow a rebound. Lucas Peric also drew a helper in the play coming at 10:54.
Kingston went on their fourth powerplay shortly after when Pinchuk was slashed while on a break. During the man-advantage, a Wright shot would hit Battalion defencemen, Paul Christopoulos, high and he went to the ice clearly in discomfort. After receiving attention, he skated off on his own and returned to the game in a fortunate end to a potentially scary incident.
An unfortunate bounce of Frontenacs defender Jakob Brahaney would help get the Battalion on the board at 16:08 as Moncada would get credit for his 28th goal. After flipping it high towards the net for a breaking North Bay forward, Brahaney tried to prevent the puck from making its way to the Battalion forward in the crease but the puck deflected over Dugas for a 3-1 score.
Wright had appeared to put Kingston up by three heading to intermission as he fired a shot past Vrbetic at the buzzer. After video review, however, it was determined the puck didn’t pass the goal line before the buzzer went.
Kingston was 10-2-1-1 when leading after two periods and with an early goal, things were set up to improve on that record. It was 4-1 just 16 seconds into the period as Chromiak fed Wisdom for his 23rd goal while
still on the powerplay to make up for the non-goal at the end of the second. Wright and Chromiak’s assists on the eventual game-winner marked the fourth-straight game with a point for the pair. The goal was Wisdom’s fifth point on three goals in the three games against North Bay this season and gave him points in three consecutive games.
North Bay made it 4-2 as they would look to stay close when shot beat Dugas at 4:48.
Kingston would get a major powerplay at 7:55 Harrison Caines for slew foot after the Battalion forward took down Nick Wong. Pinchuk would get called on his second penalty of the game to send the teams to some four-on-four action for two minutes. With five seconds left in the Pinchuk penalty, North Bay was called again giving Kingston a two-man advantage for 1:43 and a chance to put the game away. The powerplay units weren’t able to connect and North Bay generated some momentum from the kill and drew a Kingston penalty at 13:31 giving them an opening to get it close. After Baker was stopped on a good chance on a short-handed breakaway the Battalion made it 4-3 on the powerplay at 14:18 to make things interesting for the finish.
Kingston would allow only one more shot on Dugas and had a key block by Baker as they were able to close out the win never having trailed in the game. Pringle said on Dugas: “He’s been really good and I am proud of him cause he works hard every day.”
Coach Foster commented on the game: “I think its been our goal all year to get in and now we’re knocking on the door. I thought we were pretty strong for two periods we didn’t give up too much.” Overall, he was happy with the victory although the five on three powerplay in the third was something he wished was better. “One hundred percent, I thought anytime you have a five-on-three and don’t get success it is never a good thing.” It certainly gave North Bay some momentum. He added: “The guys played hard and made a couple of blocks and there is some lessons to be learned in the third. He thought Dugas was good in getting the win as well. “I thought he made some big saves when we needed it. The trajectory of his season going the right way.”
After the game, Justin Pringle commented: “We got off to a good start. I thought we played a good game overall. I’m enjoying playing with Wong and Arcuri. We played well down low and putting good pressure and forecheck. I think we did a good job keeping North Bay hemmed in their zone. I took a little bit to get back into it obviously being off for almost two years, so I’m starting to get my game back now and feeling better and I’m happy to be able to help the team.”
Baker said: “We didn’t take them lightly, we played a full game and. On his linemate, “Frasca is a very good player he’s smart he gets the puck low and he’s a big guy who knows what he’s doing. I like to bring a lot of energy and it seems to help our guys and I’ll do whatever it takes. With his 16th goal, he has continually improved upon a career goal-scoring season. “Fifteen was my goal and it is coming for me and I just want to keep it going to help the team make the playoffs so I am happy.” On Dugas, he says: “He’s s been good. He and Christian (Propp) are both great goalies and they battle every day.”
- Dawson Baker – KGN
- Luke Moncada – NB
- Francesco Arcuri – KGN
CHL Hardest Working Player (Voted by Fans):
- Francesco – The rookie scored his sixth on a nice deke showing off his quick hands once again
beating Vrbetic. The goal was similar to his shootout scores as he beat the goalie on the blocker side. He finished +1 with two shots-on-goal.
Kingston Frontenacs play their next game on Sunday, February 9 at 2:00 p.m. at home vs Mississauga Steelheads at Leons Centre