67's goalie ready for playoff drive

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Danny Battochio declared yesterday he's ready to take over the driver's seat on the 67's road to playoff success.

"I can't score goals, but I can do a good job trying to keep the puck out of my net," said Battochio, who will be in goal when the 67's open their first-round OHL playoff series against the Colts in Barrie tonight (7:30 p.m., Rogers Cable).

The 67's No. 1 netminder doesn't believe he has to win the series all by himself, but he is aware he'll have to play a big role for the club to advance.

Last year, Battochio watched the post-season from the sidelines as he recovered from surgery to remove an aneurysm behind his eye.

This time around, he'll be in the thick of the action.

"I'm just going to try to go out there and get the job done," Battochio said yesterday just before the 67's boarded a bus for Toronto. "I look at this team and I feel like we're ready. The guys are excited. They feel good going into this series.

'TOUGH CHALLENGE'

"We know this is going to be a tough challenge, but we feel good about our chances. We just have to play the way we're capable of playing as a team."

For GM/coach Brian Kilrea, Battochio was an obvious choice to start in net and he'll ride the hot hand for as long as he can.

Backup Anthony Guadagnolo played 2,000 minutes this season, but it was Battochio who played a key role down the stretch when Ottawa battled for playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

"Battochio has been our No. 1 goalie all year and he deserves to play in the playoffs," said Kilrea. "You don't know what's going to happen. Sometimes guys need a rest, but we just feel Danny Battochio has been excellent.

"If you look at what this team has gone through in the last couple of months, we've been playing playoff hockey for a long time. We've had a lot of pressure on us to try to secure a spot and there were some games where Danny really stepped up to have a big performance for us. He's given us playoff-type goaltending already."

PRESSURE COOKER

Still, there's different pressure in the post-season, and goaltenders in particular come under the microscope -- especially ones who don't perform up to their abilities.

Battochio is ready for the challenge. He knows what it takes to step up in big games and he's got the right kind of attitude entering his first OHL post-season.

"There's pressure on everybody to win in the playoffs. That's just the way it is," he said. "I don't see that pressure as being a negative. I look at it as a positive.

"We all want to get the job done here and we all want to go a long way in the playoffs."

The 67's travelled to Toronto yesterday and stayed in an airport hotel. That will be their headquarters until Saturday, when Game 2 will be played in Barrie.

OHL STICKS TO DRAFT-AGE LIMIT: Citing concern over the welfare of young players, the OHL has decided not to reduce its draft-age limit. The league's board of governors rejected the proposal to make 14-year-olds eligible for the draft without a vote yesterday, saying the league's credibility would be compromised by reducing the minimum age. "We weren't comfortable with the image a draft of 14- and 15-year-olds would conjure up," OHL commissioner David Branch said.


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