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BRAMPTON, Ont. – The Brampton Battalion faces a familiar foe with yet another new identity when the Mississauga Steelheads provide the opposition in the Troops’ annual Thanksgiving Day game at 2 p.m. Monday.
The Battalion has a won-lost-extended record of 9-3-2 in 14 home games on the holiday, having faced the predecessor Toronto and Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors a total of 11 times. The Troops downed the Majors 5-1 last year for a 7-2-2 Thanksgiving record against the franchise.
The Majors, who represented Toronto on their first eight holiday visits to Brampton before relocating to Mississauga and providing the Thanksgiving opponent in each of the last three years, were renamed the Steelheads by new majority owner Elliott Kerr. The club now wears uniforms based on a traditional design of the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It doesn’t matter what their name is,” said defenceman Cameron Wind, the longest-serving member of the Battalion with 232 career Ontario Hockey League games. “In my four years here they’ve been our biggest rival.
“Both teams have fans showing up to away games, which adds to the rivalry.”
The Battalion lost 5-1 to the Erie Otters in their home opener Friday night.
“It’s a good game for the young guys to get up for and respond to after the loss in Erie,” Wind said of the date with Mississauga. “The game will help teach those younger guys about the competitiveness that the two teams have against each other.”
Stan Butler, Battalion director of hockey operations and head coach, has been busy, making three roster changes in as many days starting Wednesday, but he wasn’t concerned about Thanksgiving tradition as much as with getting the Troops to a higher level.
“We’re six games into the season and we’re 2-3-1, so we have to find ways to win regardless of whom we’re playing against.”
Butler, who traded defenceman Spencer Abraham to the Otters on Wednesday for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, landed right winger Brendan Childerley off waivers from the Owen Sound Attack on Friday. Centre Brennan Feasey was reassigned to the junior B Chatham Maroons after the game at Erie.
“We talked to Childerley by phone, and he sounded excited about coming to Brampton,” noted Butler, who said the Troops didn’t practise Saturday after arriving home late from Erie following a protracted border crossing into Canada.
Butler said it hasn’t been determined whether Childerley will play right wing or centre for the Battalion.
“We’ll have a look at practice tomorrow and see how things shake out.”
Said Butler, who was unhappy with the performance at Erie: “We’ve got to put together a full 60 minutes of working hard, doing all of the little things right, and reestablish the things that make us successful. When we do that, we’re a tough hockey team to play against.”