The pandemic has not stopped the North Bay Battalion from continuing its overage tradition.
"Without proper customary recognition of graduating overage players, plans were made for Nick Grima and Shane Bulitka to receive their custom portraits that have become traditional in recent years," the Battalion stated through social media.
With the OHL season abruptly shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Battalion organization did not have a chance to honour its two graduating players which traditionally takes place in a pre-game ceremony at one of the final regular-season contests.
That tradition has included well-known North Bay artist Jack Lockhart, who has created magical green player portraits through his handiwork.
"Unfortunately, the season shut down before the paintings could be presented," said the well-known local artist.
"However, the Battalion got the paintings down to their homes in southern Ontario. The players really appreciate getting these paintings as a remembrance of their playing and the city of North Bay.
"Despite the disruption due to the virus it was great to see that the Battalion made sure to honour these players even getting the paintings to them at their homes. It certainly gives these boys a nice impression of the Battalion and the city of North Bay."
Shane Bulitka reached out to Lockhart via email to say "thank you."
"I wanted to send you my sincerest thank you for the wonderful portrait you painted," said Bulitka.
"Words cannot express how truly grateful I am for the time and creativity you put into this gift. This is a perfect way to commemorate my time in the OHL, and more importantly, North Bay."
Grima joined the Battalion in October of 2019 for his final season, while Bulitka was acquired in January from the Sudbury Wolves in the Bradley Chenier trade.