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: email@example.com
. Brampton native Stuart McComish has served as the Battalion's website co-ordinator since Februrary 2000. Visit the Brampton Battalion
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Brampton - The Brampton Battalion’s Jonathan Johansson is quick to give credit for his performance in recent games to a former National Hockey League player.
First-year centre Johansson, a Swedish import, has one goal and four assists for five points in the last three games. He has worked closely with Jason Ward, who joined the Ontario Hockey League team last month as an assistant coach after playing 336 NHL games over eight seasons with four teams.
“He’s been great to work with,” Johansson, 19, said Wednesday as the Battalion prepared to host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 7 p.m. Thursday. “He’s been telling me what to do. He’s been after me to go to the net more, and that’s been working out for me.”
Ward, who played 204 games over four OHL seasons with the Niagara Falls Thunder, Erie Otters, Windsor Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers, was selected 11th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens.
“I’ve been through this,” said Ward, a right winger who played last season with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League. “I see little things in every guy’s game. Jonathan has played in Europe, and he had never played North American-type hockey before. All I’ve been telling him are little things that will help him here. I see his ability and skill and I want him to take advantage of the opportunity he has here.”
Johansson, six-foot-four and 207 pounds, was a first-round pick in the Canadian Hockey League’s Import Draft in June. He said Ward has encouraged him to use his size to get to the net.
“In Canada, that’s where the goals are scored. Guys at home like to pass more. Here you have to shoot. I have to spend more time learning to use my body. Right now I’m using it more to take hits than to give them out. I think the coaches will want me to use my size more to give out hits.”
Ward said he appreciates Johansson’s size and power.
“He has some feistiness to him. I like that part of his game. Sometimes you see European players come over here and they’re timid, and he’s definitely not that. I want him around the net more because that’s how the game is played here. In Europe, it’s more of a perimeter game. He can use his body to protect the puck, and if he loses it he can use his body to get the puck back.”
Johansson, who earned his first point with an assist in a 5-4 home-ice victory over the Kingston Frontenacs last Thursday night, had one goal and one assist in a 4-3 loss to the host Owen Sound Attack two nights later. He contributed three assists in a 5-4 loss via shootout Monday to the visiting Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.
“In the beginning, the game was a lot faster, but I think I’ve picked up my game, too. I’m a lot quicker with the puck now.”
Johansson’s first goal came off the rebound of a Michael Santini shot to the left of Owen Sound goaltender Scott Stajcer.
“It was an open net,” said Johansson. “I thought Santini’s shot had gone in, but I was able to get the rebound. It was important to get that first one out of the way.”
Said Ward: “He told he was worried that he hadn’t scored, but I told him it’s when you aren’t getting chances that you have to get worried. He’s getting some opportunities to score goals and he’s been making some great plays.”
Johansson said he has found great chemistry centring a line with wingers Ian Watters and Barclay Goodrow.
“We’re all different players. Watters is a smart player, really good with his stick, and Goodrow is a big guy who goes to the net. I’m the centre who’s there for support.”
Johansson played in the season opener, a 5-1 loss to visiting Erie on Sept. 24, but lost the next three games to a sore knee.
“Watching from the stands helped me figure out where I was supposed to be. I was watching the centres and saw them skating hard to the net. I was angry that I couldn’t play, but we all go through that in hockey.”
The Greyhounds, making their lone visit of the season, have lost five consecutive games. They acquired goaltender Chris Perugini in a trade with the Ottawa 67’s on Tuesday.