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Battalion stars sparkle at Classic

BRAMPTON, Ont. – Among four Brampton Battalion players in the Ontario Hockey League’s All-Star Classic at Windsor on Wednesday night, none shone brighter than Cody Hodgson.

Centre Hodgson scored three goals and earned two assists in leading the Eastern Conference to an 11-6 victory over the Western Conference. Hodgson was named his team’s player of the game, while Justin DiBenedetto of the Sarnia Sting, who also scored three goals, earned the honour for the Western Conference.

Hodgson was joined by Battalion teammates Matt Duchene, Evgeny Grachev and Thomas McCollum. Centre Duchene earned two assists, while left winger Grachev had several chances but no points. Goaltender McCollum got the win while allowing three goals on 20 shots in 30:08 in relief of starter Mike Murphy of the Belleville Bulls.

“It was a lot of fun,” Hodgson said via telephone Thursday. “It was a great night for all of us from the Battalion.”

Hodgson made his second All-Star Classic appearance, having played in the 2008 game at Sault Ste. Marie.

“We’re all competitive guys, and it was a great atmosphere. I enjoyed all of it.”

Hodgson and DiBenedetto tied Scott Barney’s record for most goals in an all-star game. The Peterborough Petes’ Barney set the mark in 1999. Hodgson joined Barney and four others with a record five points in a game.

“I was playing with some very good guys,” said Hodgson, who skated with two Bulls, left winger Eric Tangradi, who had three assists, and right winger Bryan Cameron, who earned one. “We found some chemistry, and things worked for us all night.

“I think the other team goes offensive during a game like this, so they give up a little more. That gives you a chance to capitalize on more of your chances.”

Duchene said it appeared that the Western Conference tried to match lines in the third period in an effort to stop Hodgson’s unit.

“Cody was flying out there. He was going a lot harder than most of the other guys. They were trying to put their best defensive defencemen out against him. He’s a multidimensional player who can do so many things. That’s what can make him great.”

Duchene played with Grachev and Ethan Werek of the Kingston Frontenacs on right wing.

“It was a great time,” said Duchene. “I think we hit the crossbar four times. We could have had a really big night, but that doesn’t really matter in a game like this. There were a lot of good players, and they’re tough to beat with finesse moves. The goalies are good too. Even though the scores are high, those guys always come up big.”

McCollum, who played for the Western Conference in the 2007 game at Saginaw as a member of the Guelph Storm, was tested early.

“Thomas was really good,” said Duchene. “I told some of our guys I didn’t think he’d get scored on. The goals he did let in weren’t his fault, and he made a lot of saves he had no business making.”

Stan Butler, Battalion director of hockey operations and head coach, was co-general manager of the Eastern Conference team with Brian Kilrea of the Ottawa 67’s.

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