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Troops rally to 4-2 victory in Hodgson’s return

BRAMPTON, Ont. – Cody Hodgson’s contribution to the Brampton Battalion’s 4-2 victory over the Erie Otters on Thursday night went far beyond what appeared in the game summary.

Playing his first game since being assigned to the Battalion on Sept. 29 by the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, centre Hodgson earned two assists while playing a regular shift with left winger Sean Jones and right winger Scott Tanski and also saw time on the power-play and penalty-killing units.

A first-round pick by Vancouver in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Hodgson had been sidelined while recovering from a back injury suffered in training last July.

“Having Cody back gives the team confidence and it gives the team leadership,” said coach Stan Butler, whose charges rallied from a 2-0 deficit. “We all know he’s a very good leader, and it also puts everybody in the right position. I thought Sam Carrick had a really good game on the second line playing against guys he should be playing against. That’s a big help for us.”

Captain Hodgson’s first assist moved him past Raffi Torres into sole possession of second place on the Battalion’s career scoring list. Hodgson has 106 goals and 119 assists for 225 points in 185 games.

“It’s been a long time,” said Hodgson, who hadn’t seen game action since the Canucks’ 5-4 preseason loss to the host Edmonton Oilers on Sept. 27. “There was a lot of hard work to get back. I had a good week of practice with no pain, so I thought it was time to test my back. There was nothing more I could do for it off the ice. It felt pretty good.

“It was a good, intense game and a great effort by the team. It was a lot of fun to be back. It was tough watching the guys go out and play. I knew I could contribute, and it’s a huge relief to be able to come back and help.”

Philip Lane scored two goals, Carrick had one goal and one assist and Tanski also scored as the Battalion moved its won-lost-extended record to 18-21-12 for 48 points and third place in the Ontario Hockey League’s Central Division, one point ahead of the Sudbury Wolves. The Troops, who vaulted into sixth place from eighth in the tight Eastern Conference standings, got 23 saves from goaltender Patrick Killeen.

Andrew Yogan and Shawn Szydlowski scored a goal apiece and Anthony Luciani had two assists for Erie, 23-22-7 for 53 points, third in the Midwest Division. Goaltender Adam Courchaine faced 51 shots, including 24 in the second period.

“It was a funny game,” said Butler. “I thought we were playing pretty well, but they got two goals on their first seven shots. We had more than 50 shots, but even in the third period we had to persevere. With this group this season, whether we have Cody or not, nothing is ever easy.”

Yogan opened the scoring at 1:57 of the second period, beating Killeen in tight at the left post, and Szydlowski struck at 7:21, snapping home a wrist shot from the left-wing circle.

Lane replied 24 seconds later, banging home the rebound of an Ian Watters shot from the right-wing boards, and then tied it with his 16th goal of the season at 12:03, bouncing the rebound of a Ken Peroff shot off Courchaine’s pad. Carrick, celebrating his 18th birthday, earned the second assist.

“I’m happy for Lane,” Butler said of the rookie. “One thing about not having Cody in the lineup is our young guys have had ample opportunity to develop.”

Tanski scored what proved to be the winning goal at 18:41. Seconds after Jones just missed converting a Hodgson pass at the right post, Hodgson corralled the puck and dished it to Tanski, who swept it around Courchaine.

The Battalion, which outshot Erie 17-12 in the third period, collected an insurance goal on the power play at 17:10 when Carrick steered a Barclay Goodrow feed between Courchaine’s legs. Hodgson earned the second assist on Carrick’s 15th goal.

The Troops had the best scoring chances in the scoreless first period. Courchaine foiled Carrick at the lip of the crease, denied a Hodgson rush down the left wing, got the left pad on a shot by Goodrow and turned away an onrushing Jones.

Battalion scratches were Zach Bell, Craig Moore, Shane Kinsella and Alex O’Neil. Erie, which dressed 19, one below the limit, scratched Mitch Gaulton and Tyler Hostetter.

The Battalion visits the London Knights at 7 p.m. Saturday.

BATTALION NOTEBOOK: Attendance was 2,135 … The Battalion went 1-for-5 on the power play. Erie was 0-for-1 … The Troops are 9-10-7 at home. The Otters, who lost for the first time in three games, are 7-15-5 on the road. Erie has lost seven straight road games since an 8-7 victory Dec. 31 over the Niagara IceDogs … The Battalion’s 24 second-period shots marked a season high … The Troops had a season-high 52 shots in a 4-3 victory via shootout over visiting Niagara on Oct. 9 … Other opening line combinations featured Carrick centring left winger Watters and right winger Lane, Thomas Stajan centring left winger Stephon Thorne and Goodrow on right wing and Domenic Alberga pivoting left winger Michael Santini and right winger Matt MacLeod … Lane has three goals in the last two games … Killeen made his 112th career start in goal, tying David Chant for third place on the Battalion’s all-time list. Brad Topping holds the club record with 140 starts … Battalion defenceman Kyle Pereira returned after missing four games with a concussion … Santini played a third game on call from the junior A Mississauga Chargers … Butler and assistants Kelly Harper and Jamie Allison guided the Eastern Conference to a 17-10 victory in the OHL All-Star Classic at Kingston on Wednesday night. Jones, the Troops’ sole representative, had two assists, while Erie’s Zack Torquato scored three goals and added two assists for five points and was named the Western Conference’s top player. The Otters’ Greg McKegg had two assists … Gaulton is out two weeks with an elbow injury … Erie defeated the visiting Battalion 4-2 on Jan. 15 in the opener of the teams’ two-game season series.

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