Aquino revives career

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

At times last season Luch Aquino wondered whether he wanted to continue playing hockey.

Aquino ran into a brick wall at the University of Maine and got down on the game, but a year later, he has a new lease on his hockey life.

Aquino, who leads all first-year Ontario Hockey League players with 38 points, had two assists yesterday including a beauty on the winner as the Brampton Battalion crushed the Sudbury Wolves 7-2.

"There were some nights last year when I was thinking I should just pack it in," said Aquino, who played 20 games for Maine but saw little action after Christmas. "You have to be more mentally tough than that. Now I couldn't ask for anything better and team-wise I am more than happy."

The past couple of weeks weren't kind to the Battalion, which had been winless in four. Although other clubs such as the Mississauga IceDogs and Wolves have gained some ground on Brampton this month, the Battalion enters the Christmas break with 42 points, good for first in the Central Division and four more than the second-place IceDogs.

Aquino, a 19-year-old Mississauga resident whom the OHL doesn't classify as a rookie because he spent last season at Maine, set up captain Ryan Oulahen on a smart play for the decisive goal. As the pair broke in on a two-on-one, Aquino held onto the puck for as long as he could before he fed Oulahen for a one-timer past goalie Patrick Ehelechner.

"I realized he would be a big-impact player for us," said Battalion coach Stan Butler, who acquired Aquino's rights from the Oshawa Generals last winter. "He brings competitiveness. He has done a good job."

Tyler Harrison, with two, Michael Vernace, Patrick Sweeney, Howie Martin and Aaron Snow also scored for Brampton (18-11-5-1). Wojtek Wolski had three assists.

The Wolves (16-15-3-2), who were without five regulars and coach Mike Foligno because of suspensions stemming from a brawl in a game against the Windsor Spitfires on Thursday, got power-play goals from Bobby Chaumont and Luke Dubbin.

Brampton's seven goals were a team season-high, and despite a layoff of eight days until the next game, Butler expects the good tidings and joy to be evident among the players when they re-assemble for practice on Boxing Day night.

"I realize (the Wolves) were missing a lot of key players but it was a big win for us," Butler said. "We were a desperate team and we needed to get our confidence back."


Videos

Photos