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BRAMPTON, Ont. – Rookie Matt Bragagnolo’s second-period goal proved the winner Monday as the Brampton Battalion downed the Kitchener Rangers 3-1 in Ontario Hockey League exhibition action, completing a sweep of a two-game series.
Brandon Robinson and Barclay Goodrow also scored for the Battalion against Rangers goaltender Jack Moylan in the annual Labour Day game. Starting goaltender Matej Machovsky surrendered the Kitchener goal on 10 shots before being relieved by Lee Doherty at 10:13 of the second period. Doherty stopped all 11 shots he faced.
Brent Pedersen opened the scoring for Kitchener on a two-man advantage in the second period. With Robinson and Goodrow serving checking-from-behind and hooking penalties respectively, Pedersen tipped a Ryan Murphy shot from the blue line behind Machovsky at 1:21.
Robinson evened the score on the power play at 9:06. Evan McEneny was in the penalty box for holding when Robinson executed a clean redirection of a Cameron Wind shot from the blue line. Rookie rearguard Kyle Wood also drew an assist, giving him three points, including a goal, in two preseason games.
“I played a couple of games for Waterloo (Siskins) junior B last year, so it’s been a bit of a step-up,” said Wood. “I just have to keep going out there and work hard and play my position.”
Noted Robinson: “It felt really good to get the W. We started a bit slower but picked it up as the game went on.”
After they killed a hooking penalty to Jamie Lewis, the Troops, who defeated the host Rangers 5-2 Sunday, saw the momentum swing in their favour. Dylan Blujus put the puck on net, and Bragagnolo buried the rebound at 14:24.
The Battalion gained a two-goal cushion in the third period when a streaking Goodrow snapped a shot from wide on the left wing that beat Moylan, who faced a total of 31 shots, at 8:16. Nick Paul advanced the puck to Goodrow after getting the disc from Lewis.
“With the kind of speed we have here, we’re going to create turnovers and chances the way we have the past two days,” said Battalion assistant coach Ryan Oulahen.
Said Robinson: “We’ve got a lot of young guys trying to make this team. It’s huge to see everyone bounce back after their goal and respond the way we did.”
The teams skated hard and traded chances to open the first period. The Battalion fired 10 shots at Moylan, but he denied all of them, including an effort by Goodrow on an end-to-end rush.
The Battalion had two power-play chances early in the period. With Murphy serving a tripping penalty assessed at 1:52, the Troops controlled action in the offensive zone but couldn’t find the back of the net. At 5:59, Eric Ming took a hooking penalty, but again Moylan kept the puck out.
The Battalion was shorthanded after Mathew Santos went off for hooking at 9:03. Machovsky rose to the occasion, foiling Kitchener scoring attempts on the way to seven first-period saves.
The Troops played a strong defensive game similar to their style last season, clogging lanes, blocking shots and backchecking hard.
“The motto I like to tell the guys is that we forecheck really hard, but we backcheck even harder,” noted Oulahen. “When everyone plays to their potential, good things happen.”
Battalion scratches were Jake Smith, Marcus McIvor, Zach Bell, Connor Jarvis, Nicholas Foglia, Blake Clarke and Mitch Amante. Kitchener scratched Franky Palazzese, Ben Fanelli, Stephen Midensky, Ben Thomson, Keli Grant, Max Iafrate and Radek Faksa.
In its third of five preseason games, the Battalion faces the Peterborough Petes in a neutral-site game at Newmarket, Ont., at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
BATTALION NOTEBOOK: Attendance at the Powerade Centre was 1,173 … The Battalion, which earned the victory a day earlier at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, went 1-for-5 on the power play. Kitchener was 1-for-6 … The Rangers, who have yet to win in exhibition action, played their third game of the preseason and their first road outing after two home games at Waterloo while the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium undergoes an expansion … Stan Butler, the Battalion’s director of hockey operations and head coach, watched the first period from owner Scott Abbott’s box and the rest of the game from the stands as assistant coaches Oulahen and Jason Ward manned the bench … Opening Battalion line combinations included Patrik Machac centring left winger Robinson and right winger Santos, Lewis centring left winger Paul and right winger Goodrow and Brennan Feasey pivoting left winger Derek Froats and right winger Mike Amadio. Matt MacLeod centred left winger Geoff Bezruchko and right winger Bragagnolo … Defence pairings were Spencer Abraham with Blujus, Brenden Miller with Mark Raycroft and Wind with Wood … Goodrow wore the captain’s ‘C’ for the game, while Wind, Froats and MacLeod served as alternates … Machovsky, Blujus, Wind, Froats, Goodrow and MacLeod all saw their first action of the preseason … Clarke, the Battalion’s first-round pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection, again was scratched with a shoulder injury incurred at training camp … Referees Kyle Kennery and Ben Wilson worked the game with linesmen Fraser Williams and Ryan Wilson … Wind and Froats are the only two overagers on the Battalion roster.