Battalion defender Raycroft preparing his game for North BayThursday, January 17, 2013 by: Mark Pare
Mark Raycroft comes in to shoot on goalie Jake Smith on a breakaway drill at the Battalion's open practice at Memorial Gardens January 5. Photo by Mark Pare.
One thing Brampton Battalion head coach and GM Stan Butler says his team is built on is it’s youth, a bulk of which will make the trip to North Bay next season.
Mark Raycroft is one of them. The defense man signed with the Battalion in May, after getting drafted by the Troops in the sixth round (121st overall) of the 2011 OHL Draft.
In his first season with the Battalion, he has six assists so although not typically a point producer, his plus four rating through 39 games is a testament to his work on the back end.
Raycroft is from Woodstock, ON and from what he has seen of North Bay—although he admits he hasn’t seen much of the city—says it gives him a reminder of that small town feeling he has back home.
He’s a fan of Memorial Gardens as well.
“It’s an old barn, definitely has a lot of character,” Raycroft told BayToday before he hit the ice for a public practice at the Gardens on January 5th.
“When we get here, it’ll be a bit different but I like the atmosphere, it’s always good playing in an old barn, it’s really loud, especially with North Bay fans, it’ll be great.”
Raycroft started playing hockey in the Woodstock Minor Hockey system and he developed more of a defensive-minded game.
“I was originally a forward when I was younger,” he said, “I was forward for a few years but I always stayed back, I never went up into the fore check or anything so my Dad’s like ‘Okay, why don’t we put him on defense?’ so I went on defense and started to excel there and been on defense since I was like seven or eight.”
Ones that are taking notice of his skill set are NHL scouts, as Raycroft is eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft in June.
He ranks 147th among North American skaters in the NHL’s midterm Central Scouting rating, released on Tuesday, and was ranked 24th among OHL skaters in the NHL’s preliminary reports, back in November.
“It’s good to be on that (NHL central scouting) list, be recognized by the scouts but you can’t let it get to your head,” he said.
“You just gotta keep playing well and improve. That’s what I felt I’ve been doing over the season, is keep improving. The first half of the season is a bit difficult, getting used to the speed and stuff but now, after a few games, now we’re halfway through the season now, it’s comfortable out there. I feel calm and keeping to think simple so it’s good to be on that list but you can’t let it get to your head, and play confident.”
His quest to the NHL continues Friday night, when the Battalion pay their first and only visit to Kitchener to take on the Rangers, before a three-game home stand to close off January against the Peterborough Petes, Niagara IceDogs and Mississauga Steelheads.