NORTH BAY, Ont. — The revolving door on the North Bay Battalion’s sick bay continues to turn, and it has nothing to do with coronavirus, for which the Ontario Hockey League has instituted a number of measures.
Goaltender Cameron Lamour, who took a puck to the head in practice this week, is the latest member of the Battalion to be sidelined.
With goaltenders in the team’s system unavailable because of games or a suspension, the Battalion has obtained the services of Colton Incze via the OHL’s goaltender replacement policy. He’s slated to back up Joe Vrbetic in three games this week, starting with a visit by the Mississauga Steelheads at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Overager Incze, who turned 21 on Jan. 31, has played 47 games this season with the Brantford 99ers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, posting a goals-against average of 3.23 and a save percentage of .908 with one shutout and a won-lost record of 27-20.
A fifth-round pick of the Niagara IceDogs in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection from the Mississauga Rebels minor midgets, he was traded to the Windsor Spitfires in December, 2018. In three seasons with Niagara and Windsor culminating in 2018-19, Incze played 68 games with a 3.67 GAA, an .891 save percentage, one shutout and a won-lost-extended record of 18-26-10.
North Bay has been without forward Mitchell Russell and defencemen Pacey Schlueting, Simon Rose and Avery Winslow in the last two games, both losses after a three-game winning run.
“We’re inching a little bit closer to having some guys return,” interim coach Ryan Oulahen said Wednesday before Incze was acquired.
The Battalion meets Mississauga in a rematch of an 8-5 road loss last Friday night, with Schlueting expected back. But forward Christian Stevens will sit out that game and a Saturday night visit to the Barrie Colts in the opener of a home-and-home set that ends Sunday at Memorial Gardens.
Stevens has been suspended for two games after incurring a major and a game misconduct for a head check on Daylon Groulx of the Ottawa 67’s in an 8-0 home-ice thrashing last Sunday. Groulx later drew the same penalties for a check on Paul Christopoulos and is suspended for four games. Groulx made contact with linesman Brendan Kane, which may have increased his suspension.
North Bay, 17-41-4 for 38 points, is fifth in the Central Division and ranks last in the league, four points behind the Kingston Frontenacs and Niagara, who are tied for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. The IceDogs have five games left after a 9-1 pasting Tuesday night at Ottawa in a rescheduled game, while both the Frontenacs and Battalion have six games to play.
General manager Adam Dennis said the Battalion has “followed every directive” that the league has issued regarding coronavirus, which the World Health Organization declared Wednesday to be a pandemic.
Dennis said that the club’s athletic therapists and medical staff have addressed the players.
The OHL released a statement late Tuesday saying it is “committed to the health and safety of our players, on- and off-ice officials, fans, staff and general public.”
“As part of this commitment, we continue to closely monitor the latest health information, including data and recommended measures provided by public health agencies regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Since the start of the outbreak, we have been in regular communication with OHL Member Teams, the National Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League and Hockey Canada. Subsequently, players, billets and staff are taking all necessary precautions to try to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.”
The league said its general managers “as well as medical and training staff from all 20 OHL member teams have also been provided with frequent updates on preventative measures to be taken in team areas such as dressing rooms and team buses as well as hygienic best practices to be enacted throughout their facilities.”
Apart from standard practices such as the washing of hands, the league recommended that access to dressing rooms and team facilities be limited to players, coaches and support staff and that media access be restricted to designated areas outside dressing rooms.
The OHL also recommended the elimination of handshakes between teammates, opponents and officials, no sharing of water bottles or towels on benches or in the penalty box and the avoidance of direct contact with fans, including high-fives, handshakes and the autographing of items.