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MAR 20/11 Belleville @ Brampton Game Review

BY: Brandon Sudeyko

Maybe the title should be this... Mar 20/11 Game Review- Belleville Bulls and Brampton Battalion a.k.a. What the heck is Stan Butler doing?


            So as per my Sunday afternoon ritual I stop into the Powerade centre to see what the small commotion is about. On this particular day it happens to be an eventful day. Not only because it was Fan Appreciation day sponsored by someone I do not want to promote where they were giving out, ‘terrible towels’ for the fans but because the game meant something.
            It is at this point of the season I want two things and two things only. The entire playoff picture to be settled so I can write something about it, conversely I want the games to mean something too. Yes I am bipolar in my thinking. What can I say? I like a good argument.
Today was the later in Brampton where the game had a lot of implications not only for these two teams but for 2 others as well. Hanging in the balance of the final score was the fate of the Kingston Frontenacs and the fate of the Peterborough Petes. Both the Battalion and the Frontenacs have clinched a playoff spot but could flip flop in the standings. A Brampton win would give them 5th spot and they would face Oshawa where the Niagara IceDogs would await the 6th seed which in this scenario would be the Frontenacs. While at the same time a Belleville win in regulation would give them a playoff berth where a overtime or shootout loss would give them a 2 point cushion on Peterborough for the 8th and final spot. A Regulation loss for the Bulls would mean the world to the Petes in their game later on today against the 4th seed Oshawa Generals. A Bulls regulation loss would mean the petes would need 2 points to get into the playoffs or a single point to send both Belleville and Peterborough to a tie break Tuesday night. Are you confused yet?
            Well here may be the most confusing part. While I am sitting in the media room awaiting the lineup for the game the buzz is circulating that Brampton controls their own fate and that they should come out guns a blazing because a matchup with Oshawa is much better for them.  I can agree with the general consensus on that one. Even though they did blank the IceDogs the last time they came to Brampton, Niagara was missing Friesen, Archibald, Theoret and Strome from their lineup. But the feeling is, Brampton matches better with Oshawa as Cameron Wind and Marcus McIvor can do an effective job shutting down Christian Thomas.
            And then here comes the magic man who writes down the lineup, first the Belleville side of the ledger where a shock to most is that Luke Judson is not in the lineup. Unknown to most as to why, but I didn’t feel the need to let anyone know why he was out of the lineup. Then the Brampton side gets written and once the man started with the third line you realized that 3rd liners were playing 2nd and the captain was missing. And then Michael Santini was out… and then Matej Machovsky was starting in net… now the collective mood in the media room turned into anger and disgust as many were hoping to see Oshawa in the Bunker come playoff time but now, they are assuredly going to see Niagara. Talking to many people through out the building and no one could understand it. Why was Stephon Thorne and Michael Santini out of the lineup? Why was 3 1994 birthdates brought in for this game? What was Stan Butler thinking?
The game ended and the final had Belleville winning 3-2 and crushing Peterborough’s hopes for a playoff birth. And thus setting up Brampton with a date against Niagara for at least 2 home games and 2 road games a they stay in 6th place while the Kingston Frontenacs will get to play the Oshawa Generals in the first round in a 5 and 4 matchup.
            The only logic I can think of behind this is that the Battalion brass believe one of two things: they can beat Niagara instead of Oshawa or it is because they can make some good money with Niagara. And let us not kid ourselves here. Playoffs are all money makers even in Jr hockey. So why not try and squeeze out some more dough from patrons.  The average attendance to the Bunker this year was 1885 people. On average the building is only 40% (1885) filled. That’s right it holds 4800 for hockey and it is less than half full 34 dates out of the year. Niagara visited Brampton 3 times this year and their average attendance was 1940 while Oshawa visited twice with an average attendance of 1828 for their two games in Brampton. Not big enough increases to agree with me eh… Well how about this. Niagara sells out basically all 34 of their home games and they have to deny walk up patrons… not to mention the team travels well, especially in the GTA. Now you are in a playoff intensified atmosphere where you want your team to beat this one team badly… I believe that the 3000 fans that go to every single Niagara IceDogs game will travel up the QEW for at least 2 games in Brampton. So how good does 4500 people in the building look? Not to mention beer, concession and other sales around the building? How much does that influence the pocket book of the Brampton Battalion.
            Personally I really hope someone reads this and says that it is the city who benefits or someone else and they probe me wrong about this theory. But I am convinced that the Stan Butler was looking at the bottom line instead of the matchup on the ice. Bold words, yes I know. And particularly at a man who is one of the most underrated coaches in this league. But definitely he got this matchup wrong.
Niagara has Strome, Aggozino, Friesen, Shipley, Pacan, Archibald, and Freddie Hamilton on the front lines to go up against… Phil Lane Scott Tanski and Barclay Goodrow? While the back end of Graham, Mercer, Dougie Hamilton, Gronvaldt and Rover go up againt Cameron Wind and 3 Rookies (Marcus McIvor, Dylan Blujus and Spencer Abraham) And Is it even a contest in net when you have Visentin vs St. Jacques… Love em both but you know who I am taking.
            Matchup wise this is a bad decision one I am sure some players may agree with me about… maybe not. Maybe they don’t care… the point is someone messed up and this would have to fall on the head of the head coach Stan Butler. And if the Battalion fall then the GM Should deal with him… wait he is the GM too… nevermind. He is just making the GM happy. *sigh*

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