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Troops make Sudbury home

NORTH BAY, Ont. – The North Bay Battalion heads west on Highway 17 for what’s deemed an Ontario Hockey League home playoff game at 7 p.m. Tuesday against the Kingston Frontenacs after gaining a split of two road games to open their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

Memorial Gardens is being reconfigured to a hockey venue after the World Women’s Curling Championship, which ended Sunday with Canada defeating Sweden in the title game in front of a packed house and an international television viewership.

“Obviously, the fans who are there will hopefully be cheering for us, not the other team, but we’ve got to understand we just had one of the greatest events ever in North Bay history here,” Battalion coach Stan Butler said Monday.

“It was unbelievable, and we’re all very proud of that, and we knew going in that our first true home game would be the Game 4. So we’ve got the right mindset. We’ve got to go play, and right now, at this time of year, it doesn’t matter where you play. You’ve got to find a way to win.”

After taking the opener 5-2 Friday night, the sixth-place Battalion was edged 4-3 Sunday night by third-place Kingston.

“For the most part, I think the kids are playing well,” said Butler, whose Troops will be back in their own arena Thursday night. “Obviously, we’re playing a highly skilled and talented team and we’ve got to be on our best.”

Butler suggested that the Battalion should have gained confidence from the first two games in the Limestone City.

“I hope our kids learn that, if they play well, they can compete with them and have a chance to win. I think that’s the biggest thing. When you go in a playoff series and everybody’s expecting you to be four-and-out, guys are probably doubting what might possibly happen, so for them to go in there and win the first game, it’s a huge confidence-builder.

“And then in the second game, to know that they’ve got to get this game because they can’t lose two at home and for us to play the game we played, I think our boys have got to be feeling pretty good about where they are right now in the series.”

Brad Chenier, a resident of Hanmer in Greater Sudbury, scored his first OHL postseason goal to tie the second game 3-3 in the third period.

“I think it’s really special, knowing we’re the team that everyone is hopefully going to be watching and will favour,” left winger Chenier, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, told the Sudbury Star. “We’re not playing Sudbury, so hopefully the crowd will be on our side and, to have all the friends and family there, it will be nice.”

Chenier has enjoyed some of his best games at the Sudbury Community Arena, including a three-goal performance in which he scored the winner in a 6-5 decision Nov. 19.

“Growing up playing in that rink, I guess I’m used to it. I feel like I should keep it simple in front of my friends and family, and it seems to work out.”

Left winger Daniel Walker of Val Caron, also in Greater Sudbury, was expected to return to play after a hand injury suffered Feb. 25.

Tickets for the game can be purchased online at www.greatersudbury.ca/tickets, by phone at (705) 671-3000 and in person at the Sudbury arena’s box office. Battalion season ticket holders have been emailed a code providing them with reduced prices. Adult tickets are $21, while tickets for students, seniors and military veterans are $18.50 and children’s tickets are $15.50.

The game can be seen live in North Bay on YourTV Channels 12 and 700 and heard on Country 600 CKAT.

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