Bruce named captain ahead of Troops’ opener

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Defenceman Riley Bruce has been appointed captain of the North Bay Battalion, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Wednesday.

Bruce, a 19-year-old native of Ottawa, succeeds centre Mike Amadio to become the fourth captain in the Battalion’s North Bay history. Barclay Goodrow, who also filled the role in the club’s 15th and final season in Brampton, was the first, in 2013-14, followed by rearguard Marcus McIvor.

Defenceman Zach Shankar, centre Brett McKenzie and rearguard Cam Dineen were named as alternates.

“Riley was an assistant captain last year, so it was a natural progression,” said Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach. “He’s the type of human being we want our younger players to be able to look at that not only reflects our hockey team but reflects our community as well.

“He’s a very hardworking kid. He works hard in practice. He lives by the right rules off the ice. He realizes that common sense prevails in almost every situation. He’s a university-level student and capable in school, and they’re all the type of qualities we want in a person who’s going to lead our team on and off the ice here in North Bay.”

Bruce is one of six Battalion members who have been at National Hockey League rookie camps in recent days, and Butler suggested he likely won’t be back for the season opener at 7 p.m. Friday against the visiting Niagara IceDogs.

Bruce has been with the Calgary Flames, McKenzie with the Vancouver Canucks and Dineen with the Arizona Coyotes, while defenceman Mark Shoemaker is with the San Jose Sharks, right winger Justin Brazeau with the Detroit Red Wings and goaltender Brent Moran with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“As far as I know right now, the only guy we’re going to have back for Friday is Moran,” said Butler, who noted he wants to see how overager Moran looks before declaring him the first-game starter ahead of rookie colleague Mat Woroniuk.

“First, I want to physically get him back to North Bay. He had a pretty good camp in Chicago. He had a shutout in his first game and lost 2-1 yesterday.”

Bruce, six-foot-six and 207 pounds, has played 161 games over three OHL seasons, scoring one goal and earning 17 assists for 18 points. He was a third-round pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection from the Ottawa Valley Titans minor midgets.

Shankar, a 19-year-old resident of Prescott, Ont., was a fourth-round choice in 2013 from the Upper Canada Cyclones minor midgets. After playing with the North Bay Trappers of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2013-14, he has played 98 games over two OHL seasons, scoring three goals and adding 15 assists for 18 points.

McKenzie was the Battalion’s first-round pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection from the Oakville Rangers minor midgets. In three seasons, the 19-year-old Vars, Ont., resident has played 197 games, scoring 50 goals and earning 58 assists for 108 points.

Dineen, an 18-year-old resident of Toms River, N.J., was an 11th-round choice in 2014 from the New Jersey Rockets under-19 program. As an OHL rookie last season, he scored 13 goals and added 46 assists for 59 points in 68 games.

Butler acknowledged that the Troops “have a lot of history” with Niagara, which lost the OHL Championship Series last spring to the London Knights.

“I think they’re in a rebuilding phase, but they’ve still got half a team of guys that went to the OHL final, and, as we’ve seen in North Bay, I think that means something, when players have that experience and know what it’s like to win.”

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