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BRAMPTON, Ont. – Wednesday marked the first day of the 2012-13 season for the Brampton Battalion as the team opened training camp at the Powerade Centre.
The Ontario Hockey League club expects 49 players to attend the camp, numbering 27 forwards, 16 defencemen and six goaltenders.
“I’m looking for the players to arrive in a lot better shape and prove they’re serious about the upcoming season,” said Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach.
Camp opened at noon with player meetings, medicals and fitness testing. On Thursday and Friday the Green and White teams are to practise before playing an intrasquad game, consisting of three 25-minute periods, starting at 4 p.m. The camp ends Saturday after a third intrasquad game at 9 a.m.
After boasting 20 returnees at camp last season, the Battalion has just 17 players who saw action with the Troops in 2011-12 at camp this year. Among the returning players, six are defencemen, while 10 forwards and goaltender Matej Machovsky also are back.
“We want our returning players to score well in fitness testing today,” said Butler. “I want them to show us they’ve worked hard to improve over the summer.”
The crew of returning defencemen is made up of Cameron Wind, Spencer Abraham, Zach Bell, Marcus McIvor, Dylan Blujus and Brenden Miller.
Up front the Troops welcome back Barclay Goodrow, Matt MacLeod, Brandon Robinson, Patrik Machac, Jamie Lewis, Connor Jarvis, Derek Froats, Geoff Bezruchko, Mitch Amante and Brennan Feasey.
“We want the younger guys to come in and push the older guys for spots,” said Butler. “It’s a healthy thing for hockey if changes are made.”
Among the players figuring to secure spots are forwards Blake Clarke and Mike Amadio. Clarke was the Battalion’s first-round pick in the OHL Priority Selection in April, while Amadio was the club’s first second-round selection since 2006. Nick Paul, a fifth-round choice, joins them among signed players. The trio made an impact at an orientation camp, but Butler said he considers this a bigger test.
“The biggest change from orientation camp is that now you’re playing five-on-five hockey with referees. That’s what we need to get a better indication of where we’re going.”
Butler, who said he expects a strong work ethic characterized by defensive responsibility, acknowledged that offensive improvement would be welcome.
“We’d like to add some more offence to the team through the evolution of some of our players from last year. Hopefully some of the new guys will come in and add offence as well.”
The Battalion opens its exhibition season at 2 p.m. Sunday against the host Kitchener Rangers. The Troops entertain the Rangers in a rematch at 2 p.m. Monday.
“We plan to keep somewhere between 24 and 26 players after we break camp," said Butler.
The Battalion is to play five exhibition games before opening the regular season on home ice at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, against the Niagara IceDogs.