As the final captain in Brampton Battalion history Barclay Goodrow knows the team has an obligation to finish its final season in Brampton as strongly as possible.
Right winger Goodrow, 19, said recently that while the club’s move to North Bay to begin play in 2013-14 is exciting, the Troops still have some unfinished business in Brampton.
“We owe it to the fans here to finish as hard as we can. They have been great to us and as part of the leadership group here we are trying to keep the guys focused on this season. Next season will be a good experience once it gets here.”
Goodrow said the rumours swirling around during the early months of the season regarding the Battalion’s future home were never a distraction for the players.
“I don’t think it affected the guys too much. We knew we were going to be in Brampton for the rest of the season and that’s all we could control. When the news did come out it was sad, but we were relieved that we knew where we would be going next season.
“When you go to a team you assume you are going to be there until you are finished or get traded, but when the team picks up and moves to another city it’s a little weird. You learn that you never know what’s going to happen in this game. But the guys who are going will all have each other, that will make things easier. We’ll be in it together.”
Since the move was announced in November the Battalion has seen impressive support from North Bay fans during three road games against the Sudbury Wolves and the Troops drew several hundred people to a practice held on Jan. 5 at their future home, the North Bay Memorial Gardens, which is to undergo extensive renovations in advance of next season.
“We have seen the hype around our team from the North Bay fans when we have been in Sudbury,” said Goodrow. “We had hundreds of people to watch us practice in North Bay and that shows the passion the people have there for hockey.
“When we are winning up there things will be great, but if we are losing then they’ll be on our backs. It will be different. Here we have a good core of loyal fans, but the numbers just aren’t there. There will be loyal fans in North Bay too, it’s just that there will be more of them. People will know us everywhere we go, it will be a big change from here, but it’s something we will all appreciate and enjoy.”
A first-round pick in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, Goodrow is one of five players on the current roster eligible to come back as an overager, joining defenceman Zach Bell, centre Nicholas Foglia, right winger Matt MacLeod and goaltender Matej Machovsky.
“I would want to move on, but I think I will be back,” said Goodrow, who has yet to be selected in the National Hockey League Draft. “It’s a fresh start for everyone. North Bay will be a great place to play. The rink will still have that old-time feel, but I think the renovations will be great. It may involve more travel and may be a little colder, but it doesn’t matter where we are living, we are a hockey team and we need to focus on playing.”
Goodrow, a resident of Aurora, Ont., joined the Battalion in 2009-10, a season after the club had advanced to the OHL Championship Series. The Battalion’s offence had been decimated by graduation but the team still featured a formidable back end anchored by veteran goaltender Patrick Killeen.
Goodrow scored six goals and added 13 assists for 19 points in 63 games and he produced four points, including one goal, in 11 playoff games. The Battalion ousted the Kingston Frontenacs in seven games in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series before being swept in the second round by the Barrie Colts.
“We weren’t expected to do much that season. We had a young group of forwards, but a really deep, veteran defence corps and great goalie. We made it to the second round where we ran into a tough Barrie team that ended up playing in the final. But I learned a lot that season playing with guys like Cody Hodgson and Matt Clark. They taught me a lot and showed me what it takes to get to the next level.”
Goodrow contributed a team-leading 24 goals and added 15 assists for 39 points in 65 games in 2010-11, but admitted it wasn’t his best season. He failed to record a point in four playoff games as the Battalion was swept in the first round by the Niagara IceDogs.
“That was a tough season for me. I didn’t play my best hockey and it may have affected me going into the draft. It was a big learning experience and made me stronger for the next season.”
After earning a trip to summer development and prospect camps of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, Goodrow finished second in team scoring behind Sam Carrick, contributing 26 goals and 26 assists for 52 points in 60 games.
Battalion head coach Stan Butler selected Goodrow to succeed Carrick as captain and Goodrow said he has learned a lot playing under Carrick and other former captains Hodgson and Stephon Thorne.
“Cody was a great leader and a great player. He always gave me bits of advice. Thorne would do anything for the team, whether it was blocking a shot or fighting anybody. Carrick led by example every shift and every game. He had a breakout season and is now in the pros. I have taken a bit from all those guys and hope I have done a good job following them.”
Goodrow’s offensive prowess continued into this season where he is leading the team in scoring and has been among the top points earners despite losing six games to a shoulder injury. Goodrow, who recently became the 13th player in club history to score 30 goals in a season, is in the club’s all-time top 10 in points, goals, power-play goals, game-winning goals, shorthanded goals and games played.
“Coming into this season I was just trying to use all I have learned over the past three seasons and remember to do some to the things that got me here in the first place. I had some frustrating times when I wasn’t contributing as much as I thought I should. But as captain I have been focusing on the team and my personal success has come along with that. I’d just like to keep that up and hopefully we can continue to have success as a team.”