Team opens sophomore season 3-0
September 24, 1999 – vs. Barrie Colts
The Battalion got their sophomore season off to a winning start with a 4-2 win over the highly regarded Barrie Colts at the Bunker.
While the Colts had several top players such as goaltender Brian Finley, defenceman Martin Skoula and forward Denis Shvidki, still at NHL training camps, they were still a formidable squad considered by many to be one of the top teams in the country.
The Battalion had certainly drawn a tough foe for their second season opener, but they seemed to pay little attention to that as they came out flying in the first period.
Kurt MacSweyn opened the scoring at 2:18 of the frame after rookie Chris Rowan fought off several defenders to get him the puck. Raffi Torres followed at 3:13 from Jeff Bateman and Scott Thompson and suddenly Brampton was up 2-0.
New Colts coach Bill Stewart called a timeout in an effort to regroup his troops and they seemed to respond, with Mike Christian notching their first marker at 6:29.
Barrie tied the game at 4:10 of the second, courtesy of a goal from Blaine Down. While the rest of the period was scoreless, it was not without its moments. Colts forward Tim Verbeek received four minutes for high sticking after he accidentally cut Jeff Bateman under the left eye. Shortly after that, Battalion rookie defenceman Rostislav Klesla, obtained in this year’s CHL Import Draft from the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League, laid out Colts forward Michael Henrich, an Edmonton Oiler draft choice, with a textbook open-ice hip check that left the Barrie forward on the ice for several minutes. The hit brought the crowd of 2,266 to its feet and will remain for some time as the best check ever thrown on home ice by a Brampton player.
The third period was another tight checking frame until Lukas Havel gathered the puck just inside the Barrie blueline. He took off for the net and flipped a backhand over Ben Vanderklok to regain the lead for the Battalion at 6:48. The Colts tried but were unable to foil Brampton goalie David Chant, who was outstanding despite missing the entire pre-season with a groin injury. Richard Kearns notched an empty net marker at 19:49 to seal the win for the Battalion.
The Colts outshot Brampton 30-26 and both teams struggled on the power play, going a combined 0-14.
September 30, 1999 – vs. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Less than a week after their huge win against the Colts the Battalion welcomed another highly regarded foe to the Bunker.
The Hounds came in unbeaten in their first two outings and were favored by many to contend for the top spot in the West division.
Much as they did against Barrie, Brampton came out strong in the opening period, eventually outshooting the Soo 14-7. Raffi Torres opened the scoring at 12:07 with his second of the year, which came as a result of a tremendous individual effort. Torres stole the puck behind the Hounds net, circled out to between the hashmarks and beat Soo goaltender Jason Flick with a shot into the top corner.
Lukas Havel put the Battalion up 2-0 at 2:03 of the second with assists from linemates Jeff Bateman and Raffi Torres before Josh Bennett got the Hounds on the board, beating David Chant on the power play with a wrist shot from the slot. Sault Ste. Marie tied the game with only four seconds left in the second as Chad Spurr stole the puck from Battalion defenceman Tyler Hanchuck and raced in on Chant, beating him to the short side. The Battalion outshot the Hounds 14-5 in the second stanza.
Brampton fell behind for the first time this season when Cory Pecker broke in on David Chant, stepped around his lunging poke check and slid the puck into the open net at 7:05. Brampton continued to press the attack and were rewarded at 15:08 when a point shot from Jay Harrison resulted in a wild scramble in front of the net. Kurt MacSweyn fired the puck into the net and the game was tied. Less than 30 seconds later, forward Richard Kearns took a pass from Jay McClement and pushed the puck by a sprawling Flick to give the Battalion the lead for good.
For the second straight game, Brampton was able to get a victory with a strong effort in the final period, something that was missing in many of their outings last year. Once again David Chant was outstanding. He was called on to make several big saves throughout the game and responded flawlessly each time. Veteran Aaron Van Leusen has emerged as one of the team’s best two-way threats. A tireless defensive forward, he has also been effective offensively, working to create chances for linemates Jay McClement and Richard Kearns.
Brampton outshot Sault Ste. Marie 43-30. The Battalion continued to struggle on the power play, going 0-3 in that department. The Greyhounds were 1-4 with the man advantage.
The win over the Soo marks the first time in the short history of the franchise that the Battalion has won two games in a row.
October 1, 1999 – at Mississauga IceDogs
Even if the Battalion weren’t looking to extend their first two game winning streak, this would be a huge date on their calendar.
The team was making a road trip to the nearby Hershey Centre to face their bitter rivals, the Mississauga IceDogs, now sporting centre Jason Spezza, who starred as an underager for the Battalion last season but was picked first overall by the Dogs in June’s OHL Draft.
Mississauga, coming off of a dreadful first campaign, were 1-2 coming in, having upset the OHL champion Belleville Bulls in their second game of the season. The Dogs had lost their opener to the St. Michael’s Majors on a last-second goal and had dropped a decision to the Kitchener Rangers in their last outing.
Brampton owned Mississauga last season, compiling a 4-1-1 record and outscoring their regional rivals 31-13. The team’s only road wins of the season came in Mississauga but the Dogs took the last game of the season series in Brampton with a disciplined, tight-checking performance and that continued in the first period of this game.
Although the Dogs outshot the Battalion 13-9 in the opening frame, Mississauga goaltender Nick Foley was called upon to make several big saves.
Brampton opened the scoring less than two minutes into the second when Kurt MacSweyn picked up a rebound from a shot by Jason Maleyko and flipped the puck over a prone Foley. Chris Thaler evened things up at 7:25 but Lukas Havel scored what would prove to be the winning goal at 10:26. Havel, who earlier in the game had to be helped off the ice following a crunching check from Dogs defenceman Omar Ennaffati, converted after Raffi Torres had stolen the puck just inside the Dogs blueline, maneuvered a Dogs defender out of position and fed Havel a perfect pass across the front of the goal..
The shots were even in the third period but both Nick Foley and Battalion goaltender David Chant had to make some key stops. Brampton eventually outshot Mississauga 32-29. Both teams struggled on the power play, going a combined 0-10.
While the Battalion became the first team to hold Jason Spezza pointless this season – he had compiled six assists in Mississauga’s first three games – he was a factor all night, making several dazzling rushes and almost scoring on a first period power play with a howitzer from just outside the faceoff circle. Fortunately for Brampton, David Chant managed to get a piece of the shot and deflect it wide. Spezza saw considerable action on the point during Ice Dog power plays, something he did not do last year for the Battalion.
The bitter rivals only engaged in one scrap on this evening with Dogs captain Scott Page, who had played a very effective game for Mississauga, scoring a narrow decision over Battalion captain Jason Maleyko.
The Battalion, now 3-0 and almost halfway to equaling last year’s win total of eight, are tied for the lead in the Midwest division with the Kitchener Rangers, while the IceDogs fell to 1-3.
BATTALION NOTES: The team waived veteran forward Shane Fryia prior to their first game against Barrie. Fryia was picked up by the Oshawa Generals….Jason Maleyko is once again the team captain. He will be assisted this season by Jay Harrison and Kurt MacSweyn….Brampton has received some outstanding play from several of their rookies during the early part of the season. Defenceman Rostislav Klesla has been very physical and looks to be developing into the offensive defenceman the team needs. First round pick Jay McClement has logged plenty of ice time and responded with spirited play at both ends of the rink. He has also proven to be an effective faceoff man. Big Chris Rowan is another hard worker who has been eagerly banging and crashing all over the ice. Freshman Matt Grennier, Tyler Dukelow, Mike Rice and Chris Cook have also been solid working on the fourth line….Raffi Torres picked up five stitches after rumbling with massive Josef Vasicek of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds just after the final whistle on September 30….The team has had mixed success on special teams after three games. They are second in the league in penalty killing, having surrendered only one goal in 15 shorthanded situations, but they are last in the league in power play effectiveness, having gone 0-16 so far….Leading scorers after three games: Raffi Torres (3-2-5), Lukas Havel (3-1-4), Kurt MacSweyn (3-0-3), Jeff Bateman (0-3-3)….David Chant is currently tied for the league lead in wins with Reg Bourcier of Kitchener….His goals-against-average of 2.00 is good enough for fifth in the OHL. He is currently sporting a .933 save percentage.