The last time the North Bay Battalion were at Leon’s Centre was March 31st, 2018, and they stayed a lot longer than they were expecting. It was game five of the opening round of the playoffs and it lasted nearly six full periods. Kingston won the triple OT thriller when Gabe Vilardi scored to send Kingston to the second round of the playoffs. There has been a lot of change in the lineup since then, but Kingston’s success over North Bay at Leon’s Centre has remained consistent. The Frontenacs had won 7 consecutive regular season games at home over the Battalion entering the game on Friday night, a streak they were hoping to keep intact.
It was a quick start for Kingston thanks to one of their veterans. Matt Hotchkiss put the Frontenacs on the board less than two minutes into the game. He beat Christian Propp over the glove with a wrister from the slot. North Bay answered at the midway point of the period. Mason Primeau was able to tap in a loose puck that had snuck through the legs of Ryan Dugas. The shots were 10-9 in favour of Kingston after the first period. The evenly played period ended in a 1-1 tie.
The second period featured lots of offence. Brett Neumann kicked off a big period with a power play goal just 2:30 into the period that restored the Kingston lead. Lucas Rowe extended that lead when he tapped in a beautiful pass from Cameron Hough just over a minute later. North Bay responded quickly when Justin Brazeau tipped in a point shot that was initially going wide of the net. The goals continued to come later in the period. Brett Neumann got his second of the period on a lucky bounce. He threw a puck in front of the net and it went in off Christian Purboo’s, who had replaced Propp after the third Kingston goal, stick. Again, North Bay responded quickly. Nick King took a point shot that hit something in front of the Kingston net and bounced in. There was one more goal to be scored in the period, and it was Brett Neumann who finished the hat trick. Ryan Cranford found him in front and Neumann made no mistake with the shot. There were six goals scored in the period, four of them coming off the stick of a Frontenacs player. They led 5-3 heading to the third.
Kingston had another strong start to the final period. Billy Constantinou scored his first as a Frontenacs player to make it 6-3. Just as it started to feel like Kingston had shut the door, North Bay fought back. Mason Primeau scored a short-handed goal to get North Bay going again. Justin Brazeau made things interesting with his second of the game to bring North Bay back within a goal. North Bay pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, but Paul Larabie scored on the empty net for his second goal in as many games for Kingston to give the Frontenacs a comfortable lead in the final minute. That only lasted 0:35 though because Mason Primeau found a loose puck in front to make it 7-6 with 0:12 left. The Frontenacs held onto the one goal lead to take the high scoring affair 7-6.
The win gives Kingston 8 straight regular season victories at home against the Battalion. The 7 goals they scored on Friday night were more than the rest of the games Kingston has played since the trade with Niagara combined. Paul Larabie, who had not scored a goal in his OHL career, now has a goal in both games he has played since returning from injury.
Kingston will now hit the road for a 4-game road trip. They visit Oshawa, London, Sarnia and Kitchener over the next two weekends. They return home on December 14 to host the Owen Sound Attack. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.ca or at Leon’s Centre box office.