The Kingston Frontenacs lost 6-3 to the North Bay Battalion in Game 3 of their 2022 Eastern Conference Semi-final series on Tuesday night at Leon’s Centre. The Troops take a 2-1 series lead into Thursday night’s Game 4 at Leon’s Centre. Kyle Jackson had four goals for the visitors with OHL Overager of the Year Brandon Coe (4A) and Mitchell Russell (1G,3A) each earning four points in the victory. Martin Chromiak scored for the fifth straight contest with Francesco Arcuri and OHL rookie points leader Paul Ludwinski adding tallies for the Fronts.
Leevi Merilainen made 25 saves on 30 Battalion shots. Dom DiVincentiis was back in North Bay’s crease after relieving Joe Vrbetic in Game 2 and stopped shots.
Facing a different starter in the series did nit change the gameplan. Head coach Luca Caputi said after the game: “Our game plan didn’t much change because of the goalie. We have a mindset. It’s never going to be easy, and these are the nights its hurt. You should wallow in it, but it drives you to come back to the rink tomorrow to find answers. It’s what drives you back to the rink.”
“A lot of our guys played really well tonight. It tough to talk about dropping the game. But these guys are very resilient, hard-working group that absorbs information well,” added Caputi.
The Black and Gold repeated the good start from Game 2 getting out to a two-goal lead after twenty minutes outshooting the visitors 14-7.
North Bay had a great opportunity to get on the board first, but Merilainen made a nice save on an early breakaway by Owen Van Steensel just before the three-minute mark as the teams exchanged 11 combined shots before the game was five minutes old.
Martin Chromiak (4) gave Kingston the opening goal for a second straight game taking advantage of a Battalion turnover inside their blueline and recording a goal in his fourth straight contest. The LA Kings prospect stole a pass before rifling a low shot past DiVincentiis for the unassisted marker at 5:10 and the 1-0 score.
Shane Wright would put a shot on the North Bay goaltender that rebounded to Ludwinski (7) in the slot for the 2-0 lead at 12:08. The OHL rookie scoring leader buried the loose puck past Divincentiis with Wright and Francesco Arcuri assisting, for his third consecutive game with a point. Arcuri’s assist has him with points in five straight and Wright to a four-game streak.
With 66 seconds left the Battalion got back within one when Kyle Jackson (4) got loose in front of the Kingston net to get a puck around Merialinen’s pad Brandon Coe and Mitchell Russell assisted at 18:54.
Chromiak almost had a second tally after picking up a loose pick in front of the North Bay goal but was stuffed out at the last second before North Bay would go to the games’ first powerplay with 27 seconds left.
After a combined 25 shot first period, the teams would fire just 12 in the middle stanza with six apiece. The Troops took advantage of the late first period Kingston penalty to square it up 2-2 just 24 seconds after the periods’ opening faceoff with Jackson (5) notching his second of the game. Matvey Petrov found Jackson off the right side of the Fronts net for a quick tap in also assisted by Ty Nelson as the Battalion would score two within 1:20 of gametime for the tie.
Midway through the frame, Merilainen made a splendid save preventing a third straight Battalion strike as the Troops held Kingston without a shot through half the period. The save led to a second Fronts lead a couple minutes later.
However, Francesco Arcuri (5) got the Fronts back out ahead at as the homeside crashed the crease with Ludwinski, Wright and Arcuri all battling within two feet of the North Bay net. The 3-2 goal drew assists from Wright and Ludwinski. The trio all recorded their second points on the night at 11:36 on the second Kingston go-ahead goal on their first shot of the frame.
After four consecutive Frontenacs shots, Jackson (6) would get a hattrrick goal deking through the Kingston zone after being set up by Coe, tying the game a second time at 15:07. Russell also assisted on the 3-3 tally for North Bay moments before taking their first lead 44 seconds later on a breakaway by Owen Outwater. The 4-3 goal at 15:51 by Outwater (1) sent Kingston to the intermission down a goal with a 21-16 overall shot lead.
Kingston would enter the final period with a 0-2 record when trailing after 40 minutes in the post-season.
North Bay score once in the final frame with a 14-5 shot advantage to close out the match and take a back a series lead, they held after Game 1.
A second Kingston penalty kill came less than two minutes into the final frame and they would grab a 5-3 lead on another Jackson (7) goal. His fourth of the game was assisted by Russell and Coe with second helpers on the night at 4:08 for the second Battalion powerplay marker of the game.
The Fronts appeared to make it a one-goal game when Jake Murray wristed a shot high over the left shoulder of Divencentiis after Wisdom mad a great pass to the slot but was called back after a off-side review. “For sure, it’s deflating a little bit but at the same time you can’t control that stuff,” commented Caputi on the non-goal. “It’s only your mindset and your approach you have. It starts with me, and I can’t waste energy about those things at the end of the day we just need to take a breathe and get back at it tomorrow.”
The Battalion had an 8-2 shot lead at the midway point of the period doing a good job forcing the Fronts from high scoring areas and had a third man-advantage that Kingston would kill off.
Coach Luca Caputi pulled Merilainen with two minutes left for the extra skater, but Russell (9) would add his third empty netter of the series for the 6-3 final.
BMW Kingston Hardest Worker of the Game
Three Stars of the Game
- Kyle Jackson – NB (4G)
- Brandon Coe– NB (4A)
- Paul Ludwinski – KGN (1G,1A)
Fronts Playoff Notes:
- F Maddox Callens – inj (day-to-day)
- F Nathan Poole – inj (day-to-day)
- F Gage Heyes – inj (day-to-day)
Fronts Playoff Stat Pack – (9 GP)
- Goals – Ludwinski – 1st OHL rookies (7), Arcuri (5), Chromiak, Wisdom, Edmonds (4)
- Game-Winning-Goals – Wright (2), Heyes, Arcuri, Murray
- Assists –Wisdom, Wright (10), Arcuri (9), Chromiak, Ludwinski (5)
- Points – Wisdom, Arcuri (14), Ludwinski, Wright (12)
- PIMs – Haché (14), Budnick (11), Wisdom (10)
- Shots –Ludwinski, Chromiak (25), Frasca (22), Arcuri (21)
- Powerplay Points – Wisdom, Edmonds (2), Arcuri, Wright, Stewart, Belanger, Budnick (1)
- Rookie Points – Ludwinski – 1st OHL (12), Soto (4), Heyes, Stewart, Budnick, (1)
- Defence Points – Murray (7), Peric (4), Belanger, Hache (3)
- Plus/Minus – Ludwinski (+12), Ludwinski, Peric (+10)
Eastern Conference Playoff Picture Rd 2 – Best of Seven
Miss (4) v (1) HAM – (HAM up 3-0) Gm 4 – Tues, May 10
On The Front – Playoffs
The Fronts and Troops face-off at Leon’s Centre for Game 4 versus North Bay on Thurs, May 12 at 7:00 pm.
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 5 – Sat, May 14 @ North Bay, 7:00pm
Game 6 – if necessary, Sun, May 15 @ Kingston, 6:00pm
Game 7 – if necessary, Tues, May 17 @ North Bay, 7