|Acadie-Bathurst Titan||Baie-Comeau Drakkar|
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|Val-d'Or Foreurs||Victoriaville Tigres|
|Brandon Wheat Kings|
|Edmonton Oil Kings|
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|Red Deer Rebels|
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|Prince George Cougars|
BRAMPTON, Ont. – The Brampton Battalion, looking for its first win of the Ontario Hockey League season, gets a tough assignment at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the visiting Belleville Bulls, who have won their first two games, both on the road.
Belleville defeated the Sarnia Sting 3-1 last Friday night and the Plymouth Whalers 3-2 via shootout Saturday night.
“They’re a strong team this year,” Battalion defenceman Zach Bell said of the Bulls. “They have an older team, and that brings a lot of experience with it.”
Said right winger Barclay Goodrow: “They’re going to be a team to beat this year. Having a younger team last year has definitely benefitted them so far this season.”
The Battalion took one of a possible four points from its first two games, in which the Troops fell 2-1 via shootout Friday night to the visiting Niagara IceDogs and 4-1 Sunday to the host Sudbury Wolves.
“It’s going to be a good test for us,” said Goodrow. “We’ll do whatever it takes to get into the win column.”
For any measure of success, the Battalion likely will have to solve Belleville goaltender Malcolm Subban, who in two games has posted a goals-against-average of 1.44 and a save percentage of .953.
“Subban’s a hell of a goalie,” said Bell. “We’ve got to find ways to get to him and get traffic to the front of the net. When we do that, we’re going to score some goals.”
The Bulls also boast a potent attack, with veterans Brendan Gaunce and Austin Brassard with two points each. Defenceman Jordan Subban has three assists to lead the Bulls offensively.
“We’re focusing on strengthening our own game before we focus on anyone else,” noted Goodrow. “We know that we’re strong defensively and that, if we play our game, good things will happen.”
Rookie left winger Blake Clarke said the Troops have worked on limiting opponents’ chances.
“We’ve been working on shoring up the defensive coverage in practice. We’re a strong defensive team, so it will be about eliminating their scoring chances.”
Clarke, the Battalion’s first-round pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection, said he’s more comfortable two games into the campaign.
“The pressure has eased a bit now that I’ve played two games. Confidence builds when you believe that you can play in the league and have success. I’m looking forward to playing my second game at home.”
While Belleville has demonstrated its ability to win on the road, Goodrow said the Troops look forward to the matchup.
“It’s always tough to go to Belleville because it’s a bigger-sized rink,” said Goodrow. “I think when we play our game on our smaller ice we’re better than them, so we have a great opportunity to capitalize and get the win.”
Belleville plays its home opener Saturday night against the Oshawa Generals. The Battalion visits Oshawa at 6:05 p.m. Sunday.