NORTH BAY, Ont. – Barclay Goodrow’s junior experience was similar to that of the North Bay Battalion he captained in his final Ontario Hockey League campaign.
A first-round pick of the Brampton Battalion in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, right winger Goodrow played five seasons with the Troops, serving as captain in both the final season in Brampton and the first in North Bay.
Passed over in the National Hockey League Draft, free agent Goodrow parlayed a sterling overage season into a three-year entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks while leading North Bay, underestimated by most observers, to an Eastern Conference title and a berth in the OHL Championship Series.
The Battalion, which also captured the Central Division crown, lost in five games to the Western Conference champion Guelph Storm in a series that saw two games go to overtime and two decided in the final minute of the third period.
“I’ve had some disappointments during my career, with NHL teams not being interested in me, but in the end it just makes you stronger,” said Goodrow. “Our team went through the same thing. We were overlooked all season. People didn’t think we could succeed and, when you do make something out of it, it makes it even more special.
“To win our conference and get some banners for the fans here was amazing. It was great to go out having so much success for a team that people doubted throughout the season. It brings the guys closer together.”
Goodrow led the Battalion in season scoring with 33 goals and 34 assists for 67 points in 63 games. The OHL leader with seven shorthanded goals, he was second to Dane Fox of the Erie Otters in balloting for the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy as the league’s top overager.
Goodrow’s junior career, as well as those of fellow overagers Matt MacLeod and Ben Thomson, ended Friday night when Kerby Rychel’s goal at 19:33 of the third period lifted Guelph to a 4-3 home-ice victory. Goodrow led the Troops in playoff scoring with a league-high 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points.
“It was tough,” said Goodrow. “There are a whole whirlwind of emotions going through you. Any other season, you can think ahead to the next one, but for the overagers and guys moving on there is no next OHL season. That is it. It was sad, but the season was such a success you can’t be too sad about it. You just have to look at the positives.”
Among them, Goodrow cited the strong fan support the Troops received as the OHL returned to North Bay for the first time since 2002, when the Centennials left to become the Saginaw Spirit.
“The fans were really behind us even when we weren’t doing well, but once we started winning they got behind us even more. It was something really special to see. It was an awesome experience, and I’m kind of jealous of all the younger guys who get to play the rest of their careers in this atmosphere.”
Goodrow, an Aurora, Ont., resident who turned 21 on Feb. 26, suggested North Bay fans can expect another competitive team next season.
“The guys got a taste of what it’s like to be a winning hockey team and know what it takes to go far in the playoffs. The guys learned a lot, and there are a lot of talented young guys here who’ll be even better next year. I think they’ll be good.”
Goodrow’s rookie season of 2009-10 followed the Battalion’s first trip to the OHL final, where it lost in five games to the Windsor Spitfires.
“The young guys here are lucky. They got to experience a great winning season as rookies, and hopefully they can use that to make themselves better players. I learned a lot from guys like Ken Peroff, Matt Clark and Cody Hodgson. They taught me a lot and in a way helped us get to the point where we’re at now.”
Goodrow leaves with his name prominent in the Battalion record book.
He’s the franchise leader in games played with 313 and is third with 229 points, second in goals with 127 and tied for seventh in assists with 102. His 28 game-winning goals and 12 shorthanded goals are Battalion career records. Goodrow’s 43 power-play goals rank fourth all-time.
He played a franchise-record 50 playoff games, ranking third in both points with 35 and goals with 18 and tied for fourth in assists with 17. Goodrow scored a record four shorthanded playoff goals and is second in franchise annals with five game-winning goals.
“It’s been a battle. Every guy takes a different journey to the destination, and mine has been different from some other guys’ but, hopefully, if I can keep working hard and getting better every day, one day I can play in the NHL.
“When the guys tell you how fast the time goes in the OHL, you figure five years is a long time, but it’s crazy how fast it goes, and you think back to all the fun times you’ve had. It’s been an awesome journey.”