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Battalion make top 10 and they hope to stay there

'For them to get some national recognition is important'
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Battalion celebrate a goal against the Ottawa 67's.
The new-look North Bay Battalion are tops in the Eastern Conference and their efforts have been noticed nationally.

On the weekly Canadian Hockey League top 10 list, the Troops came in at spot nine.

For Battalion head coach Ryan Oulahen, the recognition is exciting, but the goal is build from here.

“The main message here is let’s continue it, let’s grow. We just snuck in there so why not add a little bit to that and not be a one week thing here. Let’s keep building as a group, continue to get better and we’ll be recognized more and more as the season goes on,” said Oulahen. 

“For me, this group, in particular, has lost hockey games in the last four or five years,” added general manager Adam Dennis. “For them to get some national recognition is important.

“They need it, they need to know they are a good hockey team and I think that belief is starting to come. What does it mean at the end of the day, I think Ryan hit the nail on the head. In our sport the most impressive thing is longevity so we’re hoping at the season’s end we can be a part of the top 10 for multiple weeks.”

For fans of the North Bay Battalion, the 2019/20 season wasn’t kind. The team finished with a 17-41-4-0 record before the COVID-19 shut down. That record left them with 38 points, good for last in the league by four points.

In their first season back from the shutdown, the Troops are 12-6-0-1 with 25 points. With that much of a turnaround, the general manager is pleasantly surprised.

“I think that the coaches have done a great job with this group and they are performing at an optimal level,” Dennis explained. “I think we’re a little ahead of schedule.”

“Our staff is fantastic,” echoed Oulahen. “We do this collectively and there are so many people that are involved in the day to day and we’re in constant communication and constant talk and get on the same page and grow this together and it’s starting to show.”

For Kyle Jackson, one of the stars on this team, who was a rookie on that last place club, the turn around has been amazing.

“I know I’m really excited and we have to keep it going,” Jackson said. “Now we have to keep it going and a lot of teams are going to be excited to play us and we have to match it.”

Rookie Dalyn Wakely agrees with his teammate.

“It’s great and I think the team has worked really hard to be there. I think the biggest thing is to not let it be a distraction. I know we talked about it as a group yesterday that a lot of the teams that have been there have had an off weekend after so we need to have a good weekend of work to stay up there.”

The ninth-ranked Battalion will put their record to the test Thursday when they travel to Peterborough to take on the Petes.