Butler addresses crisis in crease

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion may have found Julian Sime just in time.

With No. 1 goaltender Brent Moran and backup Mat Woroniuk both hurt last week, the Ontario Hockey League club has acquired Sime from the Mississauga Chargers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Stan Butler said Tuesday.

Sime, 18, was an 11th-round pick of the Kitchener Rangers in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection.

“We’re waiting on approval from the league,” said Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach, noting that the Rangers had deleted Sime from their protected list.

“The Chargers were good enough, in-season, to release him to us, so we’re just waiting for that. As we stand now, as long as his release goes through today, he’ll be our starting goalie tomorrow, and our midget goalie will be our backup.”

Drew Joyal of the North Bay Trappers midgets is to dress behind Sime when the Troops play host to the Oshawa Generals, who boast the best record in the Eastern Conference, at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Battalion visits the Sudbury Wolves on Friday night to complete its schedule this week.

Moran, who was shaken up but stayed in a 3-2 road win last Friday night over the Hamilton Bulldogs, left an eventual 4-2 loss Saturday night to the host Erie Otters after suffering a shoulder injury. That followed a 6-1 home-ice loss Thursday night to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in which Woroniuk incurred a leg injury.

The services of Bradley Van Schubert, whose OHL rights are held by the Owen Sound Attack and who’s been playing with the OJHL’s Newmarket Hurricanes, were obtained under the OHL’s emergency goaltender protocol only for the games at Hamilton and Erie.

Van Schubert relieved overager Moran against the Otters, giving up the final two goals and taking the loss.

“These are longterm, legitimate injuries,” Butler noted of those suffered by Moran and Woroniuk. “I don’t know exactly how long they’ll be, but I don’t think either goalie will be back before Christmas, so we were in a tough spot.”

Moran and Woroniuk were slated to undergo magnetic resonance imaging exams at the first opportunity.

Butler said that Adam Dennis, who’s one of two assistant general managers, an assistant coach and the goaltending coach, saw Sime play Sunday.

“We got a lead from Dave Belitski, who does the goaltending stuff in the league, and Adam checked with Freddie Brathwaite as well, because he knew the player, and they both were very complimentary. (Dennis) went to watch him play, liked what he saw and thought that he could definitely help us now.”

Sime, a Mississauga native who stands five-foot-nine and weighs 190 pounds, played 20 games this season with the Chargers, posting a 3.85 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage, one shutout and a 4-14 won-lost record.

He played last season with the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the North American Hockey League, with whom he had a 2.89 GAA, an .893 save percentage, one shutout and an 11-3-2 won-lost-extended log.

Oshawa, which comes into Memorial Gardens as the top team in the conference and East Division at 16-7-2 for 34 points, lost 8-3 at home Sunday to Sault Ste. Marie. The Battalion is 13-11-2 for 28 points, first in the Central Division.

Anthony Cirelli leads the Generals in scoring with 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 22 games, while fellow centre Domenic Commisso is second with eight goals and 18 assists for 26 points in 25 games. Left winger Eric Henderson ranks third with 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in as many games.

Centre Brett McKenzie paces North Bay’s points production with 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points in 25 games, and right winger Steve Harland has 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points in 26 games. Defenceman Adam Thilander has moved into third place in team scoring with three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 24 games.

Butler acknowledged that, given the loss of Moran and Woroniuk, the Troops may face an uphill fight in coming weeks.

“We’re not the most gifted team in the league. We’re not the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but I do think we have kids here who have been here three or four years and are used to winning. I like to think that we’ve developed something of a winning culture here, and as coaches we’re going to strive to be the best team we can be.”

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