NORTH BAY, Ont. — A total of 45 players reported Monday for fitness testing and medicals on the first day of the North Bay Battalion’s four-day Ontario Hockey League training camp.
Twenty-six forwards, 13 defencemen and six goaltenders were to undergo afternoon fitness testing in the club’s weight room at Memorial Gardens and on the track at Chippewa Secondary School before evening medicals in the Battalion’s training room.
Three players were absent because of injury, numbering defencemen Riley Bruce and Andrew Lukezic and forward Jacob Ball, while import rearguard Adam Thilander, who’s with the Swedish national junior team, is to arrive Sunday.
The players, 16 of whom saw action with the Troops last season, have been divided into Team Green and Team White rosters for practices Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. There are three intrasquad games scheduled, at 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and at 9 a.m. Thursday, before camp breaks and the Battalion heads to Buffalo for three games at the OHL Pre-Season Showcase starting Friday and concluding Sunday.
Intrasquad games are open to the public at no cost.
“We weren’t very happy about last year, and I told the kids today in our opening address, or meeting, that it can never happen again — never again,” said Stan Butler, head coach and director of hockey operations, alluding to the Battalion missing the playoffs in 2016-17 for the third time in the franchise’s 19-year history, including the first 15 in Brampton.
“So we’re looking for guys to come in, some of the young guys maybe to beat out some of the older guys, and we want a really extremely competitive camp, and hopefully we’ll put a good team on the ice.”
Added Butler: “I’m very open. Like I said to the kids in our meeting, if there are guys that are new that are better than the guys who are back, we’ll make changes.”
The camp marks the Battalion debut of Andrew Sachkiw as head athletic trainer and equipment manager. He succeeds James Borrelli, who has joined the Stockton Heat, the American Hockey League affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames.
Winnipeg native Sachkiw, who has a degree in kinesiology from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., worked the last six seasons with the Barrie Colts. He was with several organizations before that, including the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.