Netminder keeps Troops in chase

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

The Brampton Battalion still has a shot at winning a conference title and it has Daren Machesney to thank. In a scintillating performance before 4,888 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga last night, the Battalion's rookie goalie made 47 saves last night to record his first Ontario Hockey League shutout as Brampton beat the IceDogs

"I had to step up," Machesney said. "I have been my own worst critic and have kind of faltered in the past couple of months. (His first shutout) meant more because of the magnitude of the game."

With the OHL down to its final two days of the regular season, there is much to be determined in the Eastern Conference. If the Battalion beats the visiting Peterborough Petes tomorrow in its last game -- and if the IceDogs lose in regulation to the Barrie Colts tonight and the Sudbury Wolves tomorrow -- Brampton, Mississauga and Peterborough would finish with 79 points. But Brampton, which also would need Barrie to lose to St. Michael's tomorrow, would take the Eastern Conference because it would have 34 wins. Mississauga and Peterborough would end with 33 wins. Had the IceDogs won or tied last night, they would have clinched the Central Division title.

'GIVE HIM CREDIT'

"If they were going to get first place, it was not going to happen against us," Battalion coach Stan Butler said. "You have to give Daren credit. If you're an NHL scout (who was watching last night), you have to like Daren."

Brampton played for nearly two periods without captain Ryan Oulahen, who will need X-rays after suffering an upper-body injury.

Machesney, ranked third among goalies in North America by NHL Central Scouting in its mid-term rankings for the next NHL entry draft, frustrated the IceDogs, especially snipers Patrick O'Sullivan and John Hecimovic. It seemed O'Sullivan and Hecimovic spent much of the game at the foot of Machesney's crease, shaking their heads in disbelief.

Luch Aquino, who was stopped on a penalty shot by IceDogs goalie Michael Ouzas with fewer than seven minutes remaining in the third, scored during a Brampton two-man advantage in the first period.

"If it was not for (Machesney), that game could have got out of hand," Hecimovic said. "We outplayed that team. We threw everything we had at (Machesney)."


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