The North Bay Battalion is back home after a tough three-game weekend road trip where they came away with a win and an overtime loss.
The Troops take on the Mississauga Steelheads who come stumbling into Memorial Gardens looking to break out of a six-game losing skid.
Battalion fans are hoping to get a longer look at goaltender Christian Propp tonight. The big netminder played less than five minutes in his only home action with the Battalion back in October against the Spitfires when he sustained an ankle injury that put him on the shelf for over a month after he came over in a trade with Owen Sound in the Brady Lyle deal.
Butler believes Propp’s improved health may have helped Julian Sime ramp up his game. He was solid in Saturday's stunning 3-2 win over the powerhouse Sarnia Sting.
“It’s good for Julian that Propper’s back too, because now he’s got to be forced to compete,” said Butler.
“We went a couple of weeks there where Propper was on the bench, but we really didn’t want to put him in the net, and Julian knew that. Now Julian’s in a situation that, when he does get a start, they’d better be good starts because, if they’re not, then if the other guy’s playing well, it’s going to lessen his playing time.”
The three-point road weekend helped move the Troops out of the basement in the Central Division and into fourth spot. I win tonight over the struggling Trout can move them up into third place in the division.
“I want to see progress,” Butler noted of the six games left before the Christmas break.
“I want to see them show me that, with a little bit here and there, we can be a competitive group in the Eastern Conference. That’s something I’ve talked to our leadership group about. I’ve told them, not as the coach of the team but as the general manager, that’s what I need to see in order to make the decisions I’m going to have to make here in the next month.”
The Troops face the Steelheads tonight and then travel west to face the Western Conference-leading Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and then return home on Sunday for a match against the Barrie Colts back in North Bay.