NORTH BAY, Ont. — Coming off a season in which the North Bay Battalion went to the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final, coach Ryan Oulahen is overseeing a training camp in which expectations appear higher than usual.
The Battalion has played in one league final and a further two conference finals in seven completed campaigns since relocation from Brampton in 2013, but the Troops historically have been overlooked or underestimated by preseason prognosticators. That may not be the case this year.
“We want to continue that curve in the right direction,” Oulahen said Tuesday.
“I think there are some players that certainly evolved as the season went on last year and into the playoffs, and I think we’ve had a little bit of a break here. Guys have gotten bigger. Guys have gotten stronger. Guys have gotten faster. Usually that trends in the right direction, and hopefully we’ll continue to see those jumps.”
Oulahen, who coached the Battalion to the Central Division title last spring, suggested that the veteran players understand what it takes to achieve success.
“We’re in a different situation, I think, in terms of having really good relationships with our players, and guys that are coming back have a pretty good idea, first and foremost, where we want to be a fit hockey team.
“We’re now a day and a half into camp here, and I think we’ve check-marked on that box, so looking to build from there.”
In the second of two intrasquad games, Team Green kept its record perfect with a 6-3 victory, backstopped by goaltender Jack Lisson. He and Team White goaltender Michael McIvor each went the distance over three 20-minute periods. Nolan Laird and Nic Sima had two goals apiece for the winners.
Assistant coaches Bill Houlder and Scott Wray ran the Green and White benches respectively. The opener saw an 8-2 decision for Green. Several veterans, including Ty Nelson, Liam Arnsby, Kyle McDonald and Kyle Jackson, played only one of the two games.
Five games are to be played before the camp, which opened with fitness testing Monday, breaks at midday Thursday. Games Wednesday start at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with free admission to Memorial Gardens.
SECOND GAME RECAP
Green led 4-2 after the first period and outscored White 2-1 in the middle frame before a scoreless third period.
Green: Kolton Bourret, Jack Lisson, Carson Ricci, Tyson Rismond, Jacob Therrien, Hunter Martell, Thomas Sefton, Nolan Laird, Nikita Tarasevich, Kaedyn Long, Brett Richardson, Beckett Ewart, Alex Stephen, Zach Losier, Brett Bouchard, Ty Nelson, Kyle Jackson, Lirim Amidovski, Luc Malkhassian, Nic Sima.
White: Michael McIvor, Charlie Robertson, Wyatt Kennedy, Cam Gauvreau, Owen Kinghan, Nik Young, Andrew Lanni, Brayden Turley, Jake Fullerton, Liam Arnsby, Anthony Romani, Aidan Russell, Dylan Richter, Owen Outwater, Kyle McDonald, Vince Baiocchi, Ethan Procyszyn, Chase Thompson, Jesse Lefebvre, Chase MacQueen-Spence, Nash Giles.
Green goals: Laird 2, Sima 2, Jackson, Amidovski.
White goals: McDonald, Outwater, Russell.
FIRST GAME RECAP
Green scored four unanswered first-period goals, the last two by Sima, on the way to the 8-2 win. Green’s Jacob Therrien and White’s Owen Kinghan had power-play goals. The goaltenders were Kolton Bourret for Green and Charlie Robertson for White.
Green: Kolton Bourret, Jack Lisson, Carson Ricci, Tyson Rismond, Paul Christopoulos, Jacob Therrien, Hunter Martell, Ethan Girard, Nolan Laird, Dalyn Wakely, Kaedyn Long, Owen Van Steensel, Brett Richardson, Beckett Ewart, Alex Stephen, Zach Losier, Brett Bouchard, Lirim Amidovski, Luc Malkhassian, Nic Sima.
White: Michael McIvor, Charlie Robertson, Owen Kinghan, Nik Young, Andrew Lanni, Brayden Turley, Jake Fullerton, Justin Ertel, Michael Podolioukh, Thomas Sefton, Anthony Romani, Aidan Russell, Dylan Richter, Owen Outwater, Vince Baiocchi, Ethan Procyszyn, Chase Thompson, Jesse Lefebvre, Chase MacQueen-Spence, Nash Giles.
Green goals: Sima 2, Stephen, Van Steensel, Richardson, Therrien, Amidovski, Wakely.
White goals: Kinghan, Podolioukh.