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ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – The Niagara IceDogs erupted for four third-period goals, three on the power play, to secure a 5-2 victory Saturday night over the Brampton Battalion, handing the Troops their third straight Ontario Hockey League loss.
Alex Friesen, Brett Ritchie and Freddie Hamilton provided the power-play markers, while David Pacan had the other final-period score. Steven Shipley scored the first goal for Niagara, which has a won-lost-extended record of 32-15-3 for 67 points atop the Central Division.
Goaltender Mark Visentin made 31 saves before a sellout crowd of 3,145.
Derek Froats and Brenden Miller scored for the Battalion, second in the division at 27-15-9 for 63 points. Goaltender Matej Machovsky gave up four goals on 26 shots before being relieved by Keegan Wilson, who allowed one goal on five shots.
Niagara started the Battalion’s current skid with a 3-0 win at Brampton last Sunday. The Troops, who have lost six of their last seven road games, including four in extended time, blew a 3-0 lead in losing 7-4 Friday night to the host Erie Otters.
“We played a really good game for about 45 to 50 minutes,” said Battalion assistant coach Ryan Oulahen.
“We did exactly what we wanted. We kept things simple, we went at them and, at that point going into the third period being up 2-1, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. I thought we were going to come out with a better outcome.”
Said Oulahen: “Every team goes through some kind of adversity throughout the season; it’s just the quicker you get out of it the better. The biggest thing I’m trying to do is to make the guys believe we can bounce out of this.”
Friesen tied it 2-2 at 8:05 of the third period with the Battalion’s Marcus McIvor and Dylan Blujus off for holding and slashing respectively, and Ritchie scored the winner 20 seconds later before the second penalty expired.
Pacan struck at 9:44 off a faceoff to the left of Machovsky, ending his night, and Hamilton scored with the man advantage at 14:01 on assists from Andrew Agozzino and Friesen.
Defenceman Miller gave the Battalion a 2-1 lead at 10:32 of the second period, firing a slap shot through traffic from the right point after a failed Niagara clearing attempt from the half boards.
The goal came 1:17 after Froats’s goal, which was precipitated when Niagara’s Brock Beukeboom turned over the puck on the boards to Visentin’s left. Andreas Tsogkas chipped it to Froats, who drove into the right-wing circle and snapped a shot under the goaltender’s glove.
It was Froats’s fifth goal of the season and his second in 11 games since a Jan. 9 trade from the Kingston Frontenacs.
The Troops killed a hooking penalty to Cameron Wind assessed at 15:55, and Machovsky made a good right-pad save on Ritchie in the mid slot in the closing seconds.
Shipley scored the only goal of the first period on the power play at 4:05, deflecting home a pass from deep on the left wing from Mitchell Theoret. It was Shipley’s 14th goal.
The Battalion’s best scoring chance came seconds short of the 19-minute mark when Wind, via a Barclay Goodrow tip, sent Sam Carrick in alone from the blue line, but Visentin blocked the shot with his catching glove.
The Battalion scratched Zach Bell, Philip Lane and Alex O’Neil. Niagara scratches were Brad Col, Ryan Strome, Mitch Bennett, Dougie Hamilton and Adam Desautels.
The Battalion hosts the Sudbury Wolves at 2 p.m. Sunday.
BATTALION NOTEBOOK: The Battalion went 0-for-4 on the power play. Niagara was 4-for-8 … Coach Stan Butler, who served the fifth game of an eight-game suspension for remarks to referee Mike Marley after a 2-1 win Jan. 22 over visiting Sudbury, again watched from the stands while assistants Oulahen and Jason Ward manned the bench … The game marked the first time this season that the Battalion lost in regulation time after leading through two periods. The Troops are 20-1-1 when ahead after 40 minutes … The Battalion is 12-7-7 on the road. Niagara is 18-6-2 at home … Machovsky made his 50th start since a trade from the Guelph Storm on Dec. 1, 2010. He has an 18-10-4 record this season … Rookie Miller has three goals, all on the road … Opening line combinations included Carrick centring left winger Ian Watters and right winger Goodrow, Patrik Machac pivoting left winger Brett Mackie and Brandon Robinson on right wing and Jamie Lewis centring left winger Mitchell Porowski and right winger Matt MacLeod. Connor Jarvis centred left winger Froats and right winger Tsogkas … Carrick marked his 20th birthday … Lane sat out with a concussion, while Bell and O’Neil were sidelined with upper-body injuries … Hamilton served the seventh game of a 10-game suspension for a head check on Michael MacDonald at Sudbury on Jan. 13. Strome has facial injuries from the same game … Friesen had two assists for a three-point game, and Shipley had one helper … Niagara wore pink-based sweaters and socks as part of a Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser for women’s cancer research. Most IceDogs also had pink tape on their stick blades, as did Goodrow … The Battalion went 2-4-0 against Niagara in the season series.