Troops take Game 1 of the 17 Corridor Series

Troops take Game 1 of the 17 Corridor Series
Photo/article credit- North Bay Battalion

 Andrew LeBlanc scored two goals and added an assist to lead the North Bay Battalion to a 5-2 Ontario Hockey League victory Thursday night over the Sudbury Wolves, giving the Troops the opener of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.

Justin Ertel and Ethan Procyszyn each contributed one goal and one assist, and Dalyn Wakely, into an empty net, also scored for second-seeded North Bay. Rookie goaltender Mike McIvor turned in a spectacular performance with 27 saves before a crowd of 3,792.

Ihnat Pazii provided two assists, while LeBlanc’s goals were his first OHL playoff markers in eight games with the Kitchener Rangers and Battalion.

The Troops were without Dom DiVincentiis and Anthony Romani, both injured, and captain Liam Arnsby, who served the second game of a six-game suspension.

Quentin Musty had one goal and one assist and David Goyette the other goal for fifth-seeded Sudbury. Goaltender Marcus Vandenberg allowed four goals on 26 shots.

Game 2 is scheduled on the same ice at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“The guys are playing for each other in that room,” said Battalion coach Ryan Oulahen. “They’ve been in these moments before. They’re used to the crowd. They’re used to all those things. It’s nice to have.”

North Bay carried a 3-2 lead into the third period and gained breathing room when Procyszyn collected his first goal of the postseason at 6:49. LeBlanc, deep on the right wing, fed Procyszyn at the hash marks, and he ripped the puck past Vandenberg. Pazii also assisted.

The Troops killed a delay-of-game penalty to Bronson Ride at 13:46 before Sudbury pulled Vandenberg for a sixth skater with 2:32 to play. Ertel raced to the puck along the left boards and bounced the disc off them to the trailing Wakely, who spun and hit the vacant cage at 19:09 for his league-leading seventh goal. Owen Van Steensel had the second assist.

Trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes, Sudbury tied it on the power play at 1:14 of the second period when Goyette slipped home his team-high fifth goal at the left side on assists by Musty and Dalibor Dvorsky.

Ertel replied 37 seconds later after Procyszyn crashed the crease on a scoring attempt and the puck rebounded to the left wing. Ertel deposited it in the net for his fourth goal.

Musty scored from the left side at 9:48, on assists by Nathan Villeneuve and Donovan McCoy on a rush, tying it 2-2.

LeBlanc struck for what proved to be the winner at 16:05, using a defender as a screen and wiring the puck past Vandenberg from the high slot. Jacob Therrien and Jacob LeBlanc assisted.

Andrew LeBlanc posted the Battalion to a 1-0 first-period lead at 6:33. Brice Cooke drove off the left side, with the puck crossing the front of the net to the right side, where LeBlanc was ready with the conversion. Pazii had the other assist.

The Battalion missed two solid scoring chances in the frame, Lirim Amidovski failing to connect off a setup by Dylan Richter in the fourth minute and Procyszyn unable to capitalize on an Ertel effort in the 14th.

Ride scored a one-punch knockdown of Alex Pharand at 18:32, with each receiving a fighting major.

BATTALION BULLETS: The Battalion has won 20 of 40 playoff series in its history, including 11 of 18 since relocation to North Bay in 2013 … The Battalion has a won-lost record of 100-110 in 210 postseason games, including 55-50 at home. The Troops are 53-44 in 97 games since relocation, with a home record of 31-18 … The Battalion is 25-16 in series-opening games, including 17-4 at home and 9-2 at Memorial Gardens … In 39 playoff games, Van Steensel has 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points, tied with Evgeny Grachev for 14th place in franchise history … In 39 games, Wakely has 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points, 16th in Battalion annals. Wakely’s 13 goals are tied with Luch Aquino and Mathew Santos for ninth place in franchise history … The Battalion went 0-for-2 on the power play. Sudbury was 1-for-4 … Opening lines featured Wakely centring left winger Van Steensel and right winger Therrien, Procyszyn pivoting left winger Ertel and right winger Sandis Vilmanis and Cooke centring left winger Pazii and right winger Andrew LeBlanc. Richter centred left winger Stef Forgione, making his OHL playoff debut, and right winger Amidovski … Easton Rye again backed up McIvor … Battalion scratches included Brayden Turley, Trevor McDowell and Nolan Laird … Sudbury scratches included Chase Coughlan and Jakub Vondras, with Nate Krawchuk backing up Vandenberg … Darcy Burchell and Tyson Stewart were the referees.

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