Everett Clark had the game winner and Jack Flinn made 30 saves as the Mississauga Steelheads beat the North Bay Battalion 4-2 at the Hershey Centre in OHL action Sunday.
Clark’s fifth of the season came from a Nathan Bastian wraparound attempt at 12:27 of the second period that he was able to knock into the net past Battalion goaltender Jake Smith.
“I like that we were consistent throughout the game,” said coach James Boyd. “We’ve been stressing to our guys we need to be more consistent. We can’t take our highs too high and our lows too low.
“I thought from the drop of the puck we put together a pretty strong hockey game.”
It was Blue and White Day at the Hershey Centre and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ in-game experience team was present to give it a NHL-type atmosphere, complete with Carlton the Bear and former Leaf Shayne Corson dropping the ceremonial puck.
— OHLSteelheads (@OHLSteelheads) October 25, 2015
Both teams seemed to have been testing the waters in the early going of the first period before the Steelheads (6-5-1-0) stepped up their game and started to put the pressure on the Battalion.
Mississauga found the board at 11:55 when Josh Burnside buried his fourth in a rebound off a William Nylander shot on Smith. The play started on a pass to Nylander from Michael McLeod who picked up his 11th assist of the season.
Battalion (5-6-0-2) responded quickly shorthanded when captain Mike Amadio picked up an errant puck in the neutral zone, brought it into Steelhead territory and roofed it by Jack Flinn for his sixth.
End-to-end action opened the second period.
Battalion’s Zach Bratina missed a penalty shot on a nice right blocker save by Flinn after being taken down by Mississauga’s Jared Walsh.
Moments later, the Steelheads would be saved again by the post and it would be all Mississauga from there.
Stefan LeBlanc scored the go-ahead goal at 4:23 after taking a nice pass from McLeod who registered his second assist of the game.
Zach Shankar of the Battalion was issued a game misconduct for a slew-foot in the early minutes of the third period.
Steelheads couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing five-minute power play. Mississauga, struggling on the power play this season, coughed up another shorthanded goal to the Battalion on a rebound by Miles Liberati from a Brett McKenzie shot originally stopped by Flinn at 13:14.
Pulling within one was as close as the Battalion would get despite a late power play in the final minutes.
Sean Day would solidify the win with an empty netter with just over a minute to play in the game.
“We were up by two goals but my mentality was ‘they can’t score on this one’,” said defenceman Stephen Gibson. “Had to try to get into the shooting lanes, try to block shots, try to close on the puck, it was a big win for us today.”
Only one point separated the two teams going into the game, the win today gives the Steelheads a three-point lead over the Battalion now as they sit second and third respectively in the central division.
Flinn had 30 saves, back between the posts for Mississauga after playing backup on Friday against the Spirit.
It was a special afternoon for the Steelheads starter as his old billet, the Walker family, from Owen Sound, had made the trip down for the first time since he was traded to come watch him play.
“I knew they were coming, I got them tickets, we’re going out for dinner after this,” said Flinn. “It was nice to have their support, to know that they were watching me, it’s just a little thing that helped me throughout the game.”
Smith finished with 29 saves for the Battalion. Steelheads go back on the road to play the Niagara Ice Dogs on Thursday. Battalion also play on Thursday back at home against the Ottawa 67’s.