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 »  Home  »  Sports & Leisure  »  Low-Scoring Battalion Made Most of Offence
Low-Scoring Battalion Made Most of Offence
By Brampton Battalion | Published  04/22/2010 | Sports & Leisure | Rating:
Brampton Battalion
The Brampton Battalion are a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League.  Battalion Headquarters: Brampton Battalion Hockey Club, 7575 Kennedy Rd. South, Brampton, Ontario L6W 4T2 Phone: (905) 874-2393 Email: info@battalionhockey.com.  Brampton native Stuart McComish has served as the Battalion's website co-ordinator since Februrary 2000.  Visit the Brampton Battalion for more information. 

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Brampton - In terms of offensive production, the 2009-10 Brampton Battalion made much of a little.

In 1998-99, its first season in the Ontario Hockey League, the Battalion won only eight games but scored 198 goals. In their 12th season, the Troops scored 167 goals, fewest in club history, but won 25 games. The victory total matched that of the 2003-04 squad, which scored 180 goals, the previous club-record low.

“When we scored fewer goals this season than we did as an expansion team, I knew it was a cause for concern,” said Stan Butler, who presided over his lowest-scoring team in 15 years as a Canadian Hockey League coach.

The Battalion, which netted more than four goals in a game only six times, was the lowest-scoring OHL team since 2004-05, when the Guelph Storm produced 167 goals, the Sarnia Sting 156 and the Saginaw Spirit 150.

Despite the offensive challenges, the Battalion excelled defensively, allowing 181 goals, a club-record low and second-fewest in the league, and finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Troops beat the fourth-place Kingston Frontenacs in seven games in the first playoff round before losing in four games to the Barrie Colts, who then claimed the conference title over the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.

“I don’t think as a coach you’re ever satisfied, but I was pleased,” said Butler, whose charges captured their first conference crown in 2008-09. “The only team that knocked us out last season was the Windsor Spitfires, who won the Memorial Cup. This season we were knocked out by Barrie, who might win the Memorial Cup. It’s a little easier to take when you’re losing to teams of that calibre.”

From the start of the season, when the Battalion lost centre Matt Duchene and left winger Evgeny Grachev to the professional ranks, Butler knew the team would have difficulty scoring. Centre Cody Hodgson, expected to open the season with the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, was returned Sept. 29 but missed the first 50 games with a back injury.

“When you lose guys like Duchene and Grachev and have Hodgson out for 50 games, it’s tough,” said Butler. “All of those guys would have scored 50 goals in the OHL this season, and when you add another 150 goals to your total you might have your highest-scoring team ever. You can’t replace those guys.”

Left winger Sean Jones stepped in to lead the Battalion offensively. Acquired in an August trade with the Erie Otters, Jones was the only member of the Troops to play all 68 games. He scored 32 goals and added 17 assists for 49 points, the lowest total for a leading scorer in club history, before pacing the team in playoff scoring.

“Sean did a good job offensively,” said Butler. “He knows there are parts of his game he needs to work on if he wants to play at a higher level. There were times this season when he showed that he was working on that. He was a great pickup for us and really helped fill a void we had.”

Second-year centre Sam Carrick doubled his rookie points total. A first-round choice in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection, Carrick contributed 21 goals and 21 assists for 42 points in 66 games. His season ended when he broke his left collarbone in the series opener against the Colts.

“He was one of our best all-round forwards this season,” said Butler. “He really picked up his game over the last 10 games of the season and into the Kingston series. It was unfortunate that he was injured. That really hurt us against Barrie, which has overwhelming depth. We needed a guy like Sam to give us a chance.”

Carrick is rated 90th among North American-based skaters by the NHL’s central scouting department for the Entry Draft in June.

“I think he can be a lot better,” said Butler. “He needs a good summer off the ice. He has to put a lot of time and effort into the areas he needs to improve off the ice. He needs to be bigger and stronger to improve his skating. He was a streaky scorer, and he needs to be a lot more consistent.”

Butler said he wants more consistency from right winger Philip Lane, who had 18 goals and 14 assists for 32 points in 64 games after being chosen in the fourth round of the 2008 OHL Priority Selection. Lane is ranked 96th for the NHL Entry Draft.

“He steadily improved as the season went on, and for him to have a chance to play at the next level he must be more consistent,” noted Butler. “If he brings the skills he has on a nightly basis, he’ll be a hard guy to stop. As he gets older he’ll be a tough guy to play against. He got stronger as the season went on, and I think he’s still got some growing to do. He knows what it takes to play in the OHL now.”

Lane was one of six first-year forwards to finish the season with the Troops. The group included left winger Barclay Goodrow and right winger Matt MacLeod, taken in the first and third rounds respectively in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, and centre Domenic Alberga, a fifth-round pick.

“We integrated a lot of young forwards into our lineup, and there’s an adjustment period,” said Butler. “Our young guys got the experience they needed this season to carry forward. They played a lot, and I’m hoping that will result in positive things down the road.

“Alberga needs to find a gym in his area and get there over the summer. He has good hockey skills and did a great job killing penalties. He just needs to get bigger and stronger. If he has a good summer, he can progress and be successful.”

One player from whom Butler expects more is left winger Ian Watters. An eighth-round pick in 2008, Watters scored 31 goals in 48 games with the junior A Ajax Attack a year ago but was limited to 57 OHL games this season because of wrist and shoulder injuries. He had nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points.

“Ian had a really unfortunate season. He’s a fearless kid who plays hard every night. But I don’t think his body was quite ready for that, and his lack of strength resulted in some pretty significant injuries. He has a huge summer ahead. He’s one guy who has to step his game up.”

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