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SUDBURY, Ont. – Michael Kantor and Derek Schoenmakers scored second-period goals to propel the Sudbury Wolves to a 4-2 victory Tuesday night over the Brampton Battalion, making the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference playoff race a tighter affair.
Chad Thibodeau and Joshua Leivo, into an empty net, scored the other goals for the Wolves, while goaltender Johan Mattsson produced 42 saves. Sudbury improved its won-lost-extended record to 34-23-5 for 73 points, three behind the Battalion with two games in hand.
Josh McFadden and Michael Sgarbossa had two assists each, while Mattsson foiled a plethora of Battalion chances to give the Wolves increased hopes of finishing higher than their current fourth place in the Central Division and fifth in the conference.
The Battalion is 33-21-10 for 76 points, tied with the idle Barrie Colts for second place in the division and third place in the conference, but Barrie has two games in hand.
“The overall game was pretty good tonight,” said Battalion coach Stan Butler. “The score didn’t indicate the game in general.
“We had two or three real good scoring chances that we didn’t capitalize on, and you have to give our kids credit. In the third period they didn’t quit, and we kept battling.”
Ian Watters, who also had an assist, and Philip Lane scored for the Battalion before a crowd of 3,285, while goaltender Matej Machovsky faced 27 shots for the Troops, who posted a 4-4-0 record in the teams’ season series.
Watters struck on the power play at 10:13 of the third period to cut the deficit to 3-1, converting Barclay Goodrow’s rebound from the right-wing circle. It was Watters’s 13th goal of the season.
Lane pulled the Troops, skating six on four with Machovsky on the bench, within one on the power play at 19:06 when he deposited a rebound over Mattsson, but Leivo collected his empty-netter at 19:37.
Kantor, who assisted on Leivo’s goal, scored at 11:30 of the middle period to give Sudbury a 2-0 lead. Kantor collected the rebound of a wide shot by McFadden off the end boards and did well to tuck the puck inside the left post.
Schoenmakers scored the eventual winner, his 24th goal, with the man advantage at 17:05, beating Machovsky to the glove side from the top of the right circle after taking a pass from Sgarbossa, who stretched a points streak to 19 games.
The Battalion’s best scoring chance of the period came in the 14th minute when Goodrow slipped around defender Frank Corrado and forced Mattsson to make a blocker save.
Thibodeau scored at 13:49 of the first period. Mathew Campagna took a pass from behind the net from Nicholas Baptiste and was robbed by a pad save by Machovsky, but Thibodeau dove toward the crease and shoveled the puck home.
The Battalion, which forged a 14-11 edge in shots in the period, had several good chances to open the scoring, Patrik Machac generating the first when he rang a shot off the left post in the fifth minute.
Lane had two rapid-fire chances from the lip of the crease in the 10th minute, firing the second off the crossbar.
A minute later, Matt MacLeod went around defender Ryan Hanes and worked a give-and-go with Derek Froats, who returned the rubber to MacLeod in front, but he couldn’t convert. Soon after, Sam Carrick found himself alone in the slot after Goodrow stole the puck on the left wing, but Mattsson went down for the save.
Brett Mackie and Watters jammed at the puck in the crease in the 13th minute without beating Mattsson, who then blocked a screened left-point shot.
The Battalion scratched Spencer Abraham, Geoff Bezruchko, Jamie Lewis and Alex O’Neil. Sudbury, which dressed 19, one below the limit, scratched Jeff Corbett, Jacob Harris, Alex Racino and Brody Silk.
The Battalion visits the Peterborough Petes at 7:05 p.m. Thursday.
BATTALION NOTEBOOK: Wolves part-owner Mark Burgess presented Butler with a plaque marking his 500th OHL victory, a 3-1 home-ice win Feb. 26 over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds … The Battalion went 2-for-4 on the power play. Sudbury was 1-for-3 … The Troops are 14-10-8 on the road. Sudbury is 17-14-1 at home ... Opening line combinations included Carrick centring left winger Brandon Robinson and right winger Goodrow, Watters pivoting left winger Mackie and right winger Lane and Machac centring left winger Froats and right winger MacLeod. Mitchell Porowski centred Connor Jarvis on left wing and right winger Andreas Tsogkas … Goodrow moved into sole possession of 24th place on the club’s career scoring list ahead of Jason Maleyko. Goodrow has 55 goals and 51 assists for 106 points in 184 games … Lewis sat out with flu … O’Neil had shoulder surgery Tuesday in Brampton to repair damage from a fight Jan. 28 with the host Oshawa Generals’ Emerson Clark … Froats returned after missing five games with concussion-like symptoms … Silk was sidelined with a broken wrist … Sgarbossa had three goals and five assists in his previous two games, including his first five-point game Friday night in an 8-5 win over the visiting Kitchener Rangers. He had one goal and two assists Saturday night as the host Wolves downed Peterborough 4-1 to clinch a playoff berth. Sgarbossa, with 44 goals and 50 assists for 94 points in 60 games, is two points ahead of second-place Tyler Toffoli of the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL scoring race and could become the first Sudbury player since Mike Foligno in 1978-79 to capture the crown … The game wasn’t televised by EastLink. The Wolves’ policy is to show only Friday night games.