Troops add Zito up front

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion has acquired centre Pasquale Zito in a trade with the Niagara IceDogs, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Monday.

North Bay sent centre Michael Podolioukh and five OHL Priority Selection picks, two of them conditional, to Niagara for Zito, a six-foot-one, 176-pound left shot who turned 19 on June 1.

The IceDogs received two 2026 second-rounders, one of which originally belonged to the Kingston Frontenacs, and a 2023 third-rounder that was the Sudbury Wolves’. Conditionally, Niagara gets a 2025 third-rounder and a 2025 fifth that originated with the Kitchener Rangers.

“Pasquale is a player who brings a winning pedigree with him and brings our group a lot closer to our ultimate goal,” said Battalion general manager Adam Dennis.

“We feel with this move we have a deep group of forwards that can hurt teams from a number of different angles. We look forward to getting him into our team.”

Zito has seven goals and 12 assists for 19 points in 23 games this season, his first with Niagara after a June 30 trade from the Windsor Spitfires for six Priority Selection picks, two of them conditional.

Zito produced 22 goals and 20 assists for 42 points in 49 games for Windsor last season after the club made him a second-round pick, 41st overall, in the 2019 Priority Selection from the Mississauga Rebels minor midgets. His OHL career totals are 32 goals and 42 assists for 74 points in 118 games with 89 penalty minutes.

Zito, a resident of Nepean, Ont., was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the sixth round of the 2021 National Hockey League Draft.

His acquisition is the third trade that Dennis has engineered in the last month, after the additions of defenceman Luc Brzustowski from the Soo Greyhounds last Wednesday and left winger Josh Bloom and rearguard Brayden Hislop from the Saginaw Spirit on Nov. 16.

The Battalion, which went to the Eastern Conference final last season before bowing out to the eventual OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs, is first in the Central Division with a won-lost-extended record of 20-8-1 for 41 points. Only the Ottawa 67’s, at 22-5-1 for 45 points atop the East Division, have a better record.

The Battalion picked Podolioukh, who turned 18 on Nov. 28, in the fourth round of the 2020 Priority Selection from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens minor midgets. He has one goal and five assists for six points in 21 games this season after scoring seven goals and adding as many assists for 14 points in 62 games as a rookie in 2021-22.

“The Battalion would like to thank Michael for his service and dedication during his time in North Bay,” said Dennis. “We wish him all the best in Niagara.”

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