The Kingston Frontenacs lost 4-3 to the North Bay Battalion on Thursday night at Leon’s Centre in Game 4 of their 2022 OHL Eastern Conference Semi-Final and head back to North Bay for Game 5 looking to extend the series back to the Limestone City on Sunday with the Troops up 3-1.
The visitors went up 2-0 after the opening twenty minutes and a four-goal lead after two periods and held off a late Frontenacs push for the one-goal win. Mitchell Russell scored a pair, with Kyle McDonald and Paul Christopoulos tallying for North Bay. Martin Chromiak scored for the fifth straight contest, Francesco Arcuri extended a point streak to six games with a goal and an assist, and Lucas Edmonds added a third Kingston goal.
Rookie skaters Nathan Poole and Gage Heyes were back in the lineup after the pair suffered injuries in the opening round versus Oshawa.
Leevi Merilainen made 33 saves off 37 Battalion shots. Dom DiVincentiis got his second straight start in the North Bay crease stopping 32 Kingston shots.
The Frontenacs held a pre-game ceremony to honor the players selected by the Black and Gold for the 2022 Draft class.
The visitors jumped out to a two-goal lead after twenty minutes. The Battalion opened hard with the first four shots looking to change their fortunes getting scored on first by Kingston in Games 2 and 3.
Paul Ludwinski had a solid physical shift with a big reverse hit on Ty Nelson and another on the North Bay defenceman in the visitor zone four minutes getting some energy on Kingston’s side.
Moments later, Alec Belanger was setup off the rush for a great Kingston chance on DiVincentiis followed up by a Martin Chromiak shot that got the Fronts going on the shot clock with five of six approaching the halfway mark.
Merilainen made a nice save off Grayson Ladd after he was setup by Mitchell Russell for a mini-breakaway on the Kingston net with 11:54 left before the teams played over five minutes of whistle-less free-flowing action.
With just under five minutes left in the frame, the Troops would get out to the 1-0 lead. Kyle McDonald (4) was able to get in alone off a stretch pass and beat Merilainen on the 10th shot of the period on the Kingston net. Owen Van Steensel earned the helper with the two-line pass at 15:17.
Kingston went to the night’s first penalty kill with 3:14 left after a scrum ensued post-whistle in the Fronts zone and the Battalion would get the powerplay marker to make it 2-0. OHL playoff points leader Mitchell Russell (10) found a loose puck after an initial save by the Kingston goalie and tapped it over the goal line. Brandon Coe and Ty Nelson assisted at 17:24.
A Battalion penalty was called with just over two-minutes left for Kingston’s first powerplay since Game 2, but the Battalion penalty kill stuffed out any home shots. The period ended with some rough stuff leading to a North Bay penalty to Liam Arnsby at the buzzer.
The Fronts had a pair of powerplays in the first five minutes but were unable to cut into the two-goal deficit and found themselves down 3-0 after the second period.
The first powerplay, on the Battalion penalty was called at the first period buzzer, saw a breakaway chance for Russell that Merilainen turned away.
After Paul Hughes fired a good shot off on DiVincentiis just after the Battalion first penalty had ended, the second man advantage saw Kingston keep DiVincentiis busy with six shots including a couple great quick chances by Ludwinski.
Unfortunately for Kingston, Paul Christopoulos (2) would give the Troops a three-goal lead as he went in on Kingston’s net racing to the outside past Kingston defenders wiring a shot beating Merilainen with Michael Podolioukh and Cam Gavreau assisting on the 3-0 tally at 7:39.
After a delay of game penalty, North Bay went to their second man advantage at 13:40 managing a pair of shots to even up the totals at 12 each in the second period.
Merilainen made a ten-bell save with 2:36 left as the goaltender made a save off his stomach from an Anthony Romani chance as North Bay pressured late in the frame with five consecutive shots, before a Kingston powerplay was called with 34 seconds left with the teams heading to intermission with a 3-0 North Bay lead.
The Fronts fought hard scoring in the final period and outshooting the Battalion 16-8 and outscoring the visitors 3-1 but fell ultimately in the 4-3 loss.
Kingston would open the final frame with 1:26 of time left on the late second period Battalion penalty but couldn’t solve the Battalion penalty kill for a fourth time in the game.
North Bay went to their third powerplay taking a 4-0 lead after a quick three-way passing play with Ty Nelson and Matvey Petrov teaming up to find OHL playoff-goal leader Russell (11) off the side of the Fronts crease. The second powerplay goal of the night for the Troops came at 5:53 with Petrov assisting and Nelson earning his second helper on the night.
Lucas Edmonds (5) made it a 4-1 goal game tapping home a rebound after an initial point shot was stopped by DiVincentiis to get the Fronts on the board. Francesco Arcuri extended his point streak (4G,6A) to six games with an assist and Tommy Budnick added a helper at 9:58.
The Black and Gold went to a fifth powerplay with 8:25 left in the game and Wright would hit the post with just over three minutes left while shorthanded before Kingston scored to make it a 4-2 game with 40 seconds left as Jordan Frasca got a puck to find its way from long range past DiVincentiis and Martin Chromiak tipped it in for a goal in his fifth-straight game with Wisdom adding a point on a helper.
North Bay took a late penalty with 31 seconds left and a timeout was called by Kingston with the draw in the North Bay zone and an extra skater on for Merilainen. The Black and Gold potted another to make it 4-3 with 5.8 seconds on the clock as Arcuri (6) potted a tally with Jordan Frasca and Wright notching assists to close out the scoring. The 16th point for Arcuri leads Kingston in post-season scoring.
BMW Kingston Hardest Worker of the Game
Three Stars of the Game
- Mitchell Russell – NB (2G)
- Ty Nelson NB – (2A)
- Francesco Arcuri – KGN (1G,1A)
Fronts Playoff Notes:
- F Francesco Arcuri extends point streak to six games (5G,6A)
- F Martin Chromiak extends goal streak to five games (5G)
- F Shane Wright extends point streak to five games (1G,6A)
- F Maddox Callens – inj (day-to-day)
- F Nathan Poole – returned fr injury
- F Gage Heyes – returned fr injury
Fronts Playoff Stat Pack – (10 GP)
- Goals – Ludwinski – 1st OHL rookies (7), Arcuri (6), Chromiak, Edmonds (5)
- Game-Winning-Goals – Wright (2), Heyes, Arcuri, Murray
- Assists –Wisdom, Wright (11), Arcuri (10), Frasca, Chromiak, Ludwinski (5)
- Points – Arcuri (16), Wisdom, (15), Wright (13)
- PIMs – Haché (18), Budnick (11), Wisdom (10)
- Shots – Chromiak (33),Ludwinski (31), Frasca (29)
- Powerplay Points – Wisdom, Edmonds (2), Arcuri, Wright, Stewart, Belanger, Budnick (1)
- Rookie Points – Ludwinski – 1st OHL (12), Soto (4), Budnick (2),Heyes, Stewart, (1)
- Defence Points – Murray (7), Peric (4), Belanger, Hache (3)
- Plus/Minus – Ludwinski (+11), Murray (+9), Arcuri, Peric, Wisdom (+10)
Eastern Conference Playoff Picture Rd 2 – Best of Seven
Miss (4) v (1) HAM – (HAM up 3-0) Gm 4 – Fri May 13 (Bulldogs have no losses in playoffs).
On The Front – Playoffs
The Fronts and Troops head back to the Memorial Gardens for Game 5 in North Bay on Sat, May 14.
Secure your seats to cheer on the Frontenacs run at an OHL Championship today! Tickets are available at ticketmaster.ca or the venue box office.
Game 6 – if necessary, Sun, May 15 @ Kingston, 6:00pm
Game 7 – if necessary, Tues, May 17 @ North Bay, 7