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Troops add physical presence

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion heads on the road this weekend bolstered by the acquisition of overage defenceman Theo Calvas from the Sarnia Sting.

“He’s a guy that I think is really going to come in and settle things down for us in the defensive end,” Adam Dennis, an assistant general manager and coach with the Ontario Hockey League club, said Wednesday.

Calvas, a six-foot-five, 213-pound resident of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., was acquired in a trade Tuesday for the Battalion’s fifth-round pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection and a conditional sixth-rounder in 2022 that originally belonged to Sarnia.

“He’s a high-character kid,” Dennis said of Calvas. “We talked to Cam Dineen and Braden Henderson before getting him in, and both raved about his character and his presence in the room.

“He’s a big body. He’s a physical presence that I think we sorely need back there, and he’s kind of one of those do-everything defencemen. If we need him on the power play, we can use him there. He’s going to be a big (penalty) killer for us, and we’re really excited to have him.”

The Battalion traded Dineen to Sarnia last Jan. 6 for fellow defenceman Henderson, and both played with Calvas, either before the swap or afterwards.

Dennis said the Troops looked to gain another experienced blueliner to provide their young defence with the opportunity to play somewhat fewer minutes with more favourable matchups. North Bay, with a won-lost-extended record of 2-5-0 for four points, fifth and last in the Central Division, has given up 38 goals, an atypical showing by the defensive-minded team.

“You can directly look to our goals against at this point. There’s no question that we have a couple of young guys on our D corps back there, so I think what this does is give them another veteran presence that they can play with, so at least we can manage their ice a little bit better and we can put them in situations where they can be more successful.”

Calvas, who arrived at Memorial Gardens in time to practise Wednesday, said he was happy to be joining the Battalion.

“I think we have a good group of players. I’m excited to be a part of this team. Coming from Sarnia, we had four overagers, so you kind of had an idea that someone was going to get traded. No one really knew who it was going to be, so then I just got the call and kind of put two and two together and figured it out.”

Calvas too pointed to his size as an asset.

“I bring a big body on the defensive end. I think I’m going to be a huge shutdown guy. I think I’ll definitely be able to reduce the amount of goals that are scored against North Bay, and I’ll be able to help on the offensive side as well.”

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds took Calvas in the 14th round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Little Caesars U18 team. He played 54 games over parts of two seasons with the Greyhounds before joining Sarnia in a Jan. 10, 2017, trade.

In 150 OHL games over three-plus seasons, he has four goals and 29 assists for 33 points while accumulating 153 penalty minutes. In 16 playoff games in 2017 and 2018 he had two goals and five assists for seven points with eight PiM.

Calvas had three goals and 20 assists for 23 points in 68 games last season, drawing 103 PiM. He has one assist in four games this season.

A right shot who turned 20 on Aug. 6, Calvas fills the Battalion’s overage quota with right winger Justin Brazeau and defenceman Cole Cameron. The third spot was created when centre Kyle Potts cleared waivers last Thursday. He is awaiting reassignment.

The acquisition of Calvas increases the Battalion roster to 24, numbering 13 forwards, nine defencemen and two goaltenders. The other rearguards are Cameron, Nick King, Travis Mailhot, David Maier, Henderson, Simon Rose, Payton Vescio and Pacey Schlueting, North Bay’s first-round pick last April.

Dennis quarterbacked the trade from the Battalion end with Stan Butler, director of hockey operations and head coach, on medical leave, but he maintained his customary role in the transaction.

“It’s always a collective move, and Stan always has the last say,” noted Dennis.

The Battalion opens a three-game road trip at 7 p.m. Friday against the Flint Firebirds before facing the Saginaw Spirit on Saturday night and Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday. All three games can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

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