Battalion vs Generals have History

Battalion vs Generals have History
Photo/Article Credit- North Bay Battalion

In a tightly contested regular season, there was precious little to separate the top six teams in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. Nine points, to be precise.

The playoffs have both put an end to that logjam and vindicated the season’s results, with the top two teams, the Oshawa Generals and North Bay Battalion, about to do battle in the best-of-seven conference Championship Series for the Bobby Orr Trophy, starting at Oshawa at 7:35 p.m. Friday.

It’s the third playoff meeting between the Battalion and Oshawa, all conference finals. North Bay swept a 2014 series, and Oshawa won in six games in 2015 before defeating the Erie Otters for the OHL title and going on to capture the Memorial Cup.

Oshawa finished atop the East Division and won the Leyden Trophy, while the Battalion captured the Central Division crown and the Emms Trophy for a third consecutive year. The Generals posted a won-lost-extended record of 40-19-9 for 89 points and the Battalion a 39-20-9 mark for 87 points.

The teams met only twice. The visiting Battalion won 5-2 on Oct. 15, and Oshawa prevailed 4-3 in overtime Dec. 31 at Memorial Gardens, with Dylan Roobroeck tying it at 18:42 of the third period before scoring at 1:09 of extra time.

Coach Derek Laxdal’s Generals, who won their last 12 regular-season games, defeated the Barrie Colts in six games and swept the Ottawa 67’s in the first two playoff rounds. The Battalion eliminated the Kingston Frontenacs in five games before sweeping the Sudbury Wolves.

“This is a really good hockey team,” Battalion coach Ryan Oulahen said Wednesday of the Generals.

“It’s just built at every position, special teams, the five-on-five play. When you really start dissecting them and looking at them, they’re a team that really has no weaknesses. Their coach has talked about the buy-in that they’ve had for their group. You can clearly tell on video. There are things that that team does, and they have that buy-in. They just play the same way, shift in, shift out.

“So I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge. We haven’t seen a team that’s going to play this consistent for 60 minutes yet, I think, in the playoffs, and that’s why they’re where they are.”

Anthony Romani and Dom DiVincentiis remain week-to-week with lower-body injuries, while Liam Arnsby has the last of a six-game suspension still to serve.

The series features seven of the top 10 playoff scorers, with Roobroeck and the Battalion’s Sandis Vilmanis in a four-way tie atop the points parade with 16. Roobroeck has seven goals and nine assists in 10 games, while Vilmanis has five goals and 11 assists in nine games.

A four-way tie for fifth place with 15 points includes North Bay’s Dalyn Wakely and Justin Ertel and Oshawa’s Bennett Sennecke. Wakely has scored a league-leading 11 goals and added four assists, and Ertel has six goals and nine assists, both in nine games. Sennecke has six goals and nine assists in 10 games.

Next in line with 13 points are the Battalion’s Owen Van Steensel and the Generals’ Calum Ritchie, each of whom has scored four goals and earned nine assists, Van Steensel in nine games and Ritchie in 10.

Oshawa’s Jacob Oster was announced Tuesday as the winner of the Jim Rutherford Trophy as the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year. He led the league with 35 wins while setting a club record with 3,569 minutes played, appearing in 60 games and posting a 2.82 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and three shutouts.

In the postseason, Oster has a 1.91 GAA, a .933 save percentage, one shutout and an 8-2 won-lost record. Ranking second in GAA and third in save percentage, he’s tied with Michael Simpson of the London Knights for the lead in wins.

Mike McIvor took over from DiVincentiis, who won the Rutherford award last season, in the second game of the Kingston series and has posted a 7-1 record, a 2.28 GAA and a .924 save percentage with one shutout.

Game 2 is scheduled at Oshawa on Sunday night. It and the opener can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700.

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