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BRAMPTON, Ont. – The Brampton Battalion’s annual orientation camp is beneficial for both the Ontario Hockey League club’s newest prospects and Stan Butler, its director of hockey operations and head coach.
Butler presided over the latest edition of the two-day camp, which ended Sunday and featured 34 players taking part in fitness testing and four 45-minute four-on-four scrimmages.
The rosters included 25 prospects, nine chosen in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection and 14 taken April 7.
“The biggest thing for me about the weekend is that it lets me get acquainted with the players,” Butler said after the players had been dismissed following a meeting with coaches. “It allows me to make sure that, when they come back in August, I have an idea how they skate and play and get an idea how they might fit into the team.”
The Battalion had only two players from among its 2011 OHL Priority Selection acquisitions on the roster last season, left winger Brandon Robinson, a 16-year-old and a first-round pick, and goaltender Keegan Wilson, a ninth-round choice who’s a candidate for an overage spot next season.
“The other kids whom we picked that year have to show they’ve improved and become better players,” said Butler. “All of that’s important if they plan to move up the ladder here.”
Butler signed the club’s 2012 first-rounder, left winger Blake Clarke, to an education contract Friday. Clarke, a 16-year-old resident of Wildwood, Mo., scored two goals in camp action.
“It was important for us to get Blake signed and get him to the camp so he gets more familiar with his surroundings,” said Butler. “When he comes here at the end of the summer, he’ll know exactly what he needs to do.”
Another 2012 choice who impressed Butler was left winger Nick Paul, a fifth-round pick who was the only 1995-born player selected by the Troops. A Mississauga resident, the six-foot-two, 205-pound Paul also scored two camp goals.
“He didn’t get chosen in 2011, and I’m glad we got him this year,” noted Butler. “He showed this weekend that he has a really good chance to make this team.”
The camp featured four goaltending prospects. Jake Smith and Taylor Welsh were ninth- and 14th-round picks respectively in 2011, while Jake Kment and Eric Pitcher were taken in the sixth and 12th rounds respectively this year. Each played two games.
“We were happy with the guys,” said Butler. “We like both Smith and Welsh and the kids we took this year. Pitcher and Kment are now in our system and we can follow their development.”
The Battalion’s main training camp is scheduled to run from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.