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 North Bay Battalion

'Hard-Nosed' Hockey on the Horizon

April 27, 2015 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
North Bay Battalion News Release

NORTH BAY, Ont. - The North Bay Battalion, having wrested home ice from the Oshawa Generals, gets back to work in the Ontario Hockey League's Eastern Conference Championship Series at Memorial Gardens at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"No one in our room thought it would be easy," Battalion coach Stan Butler said Monday. "It's going to get harder. For people in North Bay who were lucky enough to get tickets, it's going to be a hard-nosed game."

The visiting Battalion, backed by numerous vocal supporters from the Gateway City and elsewhere, won the opener of the best-of-seven series 6-1 Friday night before dropping a 1-0 overtime decision Sunday night.

"Now we've got to come home and play hard here and give our fans something to cheer about," noted Butler.

Said Butler: "No one's going to push us out of the schoolyard. We'll play the game. We'll play between the whistles. We've got to be disciplined; we can't get stupid. They've got a very good power play. But we can't lose track of the fact that we've given them two goals in two games."

Dakota Mermis scored at 1:01 of overtime in the Generals' win on a sequence that saw the Troops' Zach Bratina checked from behind into the boards at centre ice by Cole Cassels.

There were only eight minors assessed in the hotly contested game, none after the middle of the second period, but Butler was adamant after the game that a penalty should have been called. He remained that Monday.

"I don't think there's any doubt, and I think people at the league level felt the same way. We'll just leave it at that."

Pressed for further comment, he said: "You don't send tapes; you just ask for clarification. There's a proper procedure you go through.

"I just thought that it was a play that needs to be called. It's a dangerous play. It's a player that's come off a severe concussion. The Oshawa media people thought that he might have embellished it.

"To the Oshawa media people - I don't know if they have satellites in Oshawa, but if they pick it up - why would a kid who's missed 35, 36 games with concussions turn on purpose to the boards to get hit? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me."

Bratina was sidelined for 38 games this season with a concussion, returning to play March 5.

There were plenty of other plays in the game that, under the purported new standard of enforcement, warranted penalties.

"Let's just say that the style of play that the refs are calling right now is obviously kind of like they put their whistles away," said Butler. "As a team, we've just got to adapt to that and work through it. The games are played on the ice by the two teams, and we've got to find a way to win the games."

He said he thought the Battalion started well in the loss.

"We were good in periods one and two. I didn't like our third period. Our (third forward) was getting too deep, and consequently we were giving them a lot of odd-man rushes. When you're backchecking like that, you get tired. The other thing is we made way too many turnovers at their blue line and, when you're turning pucks over, you're chasing all the time.

"When you're playing a big, strong team like Oshawa, it's not good to be chasing them. It's better if they're chasing you. In Game 1, we were pretty smart in putting pucks in places where they chased us, where in the third period we put pucks in places where they could do a lot of the things they wanted to do.

"We've got to be like the fox. We've got to be smart. We've got to think."

Game 4 is scheduled at North Bay at 7 p.m. Wednesday before the series returns to Oshawa at 7:35 p.m. Friday.

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