Guadagnolo may need backup plan

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

Anthony Guadagnolo is obviously a risk taker. When the goalie marched into Brian Kilrea's office on Monday and demanded a trade from the 67's, he was putting his junior hockey career on the line.

What happens next, as he waits at home in Markham, could be anything.

But you've got to hope something good comes out of it for the kid, even if there's an appearance here that he backed out on an agreement with Kilrea that he'd be Danny Battochio's backup after Matthew Spezza was placed on waivers.

THIRD YEAR

Guadagnolo, you see, is 19 years old and was beginning his third year with the 67's. All along, he had played second (or third) fiddle, which is nothing new for a lot of goalies trying to make a name for themselves in the OHL.

Two years ago during his rookie season, he hoped to back up Lukas Mensator, but fell to the third-string spot when walk-on Battochio wowed Kilrea and his staff at camp and won that role.

Then, when Battochio suffered a severe seizure at home during the Christmas break and couldn't return to the team, Guadagnolo settled into the backup spot.

Last season, Battochio made an incredible recovery from brain surgery and became the goaltending story of the OHL, winning the hearts of fans across the league with his remarkable play.

Through it all, Guadagnolo knew his role and handled it well.

When Battochio twice missed lengthy periods to injury, Guadagnolo played well, but often became the victim of shoddy defensive play by his teammates.

For example, Kilrea gave Guadagnolo the start over Battochio in that big game at the Corel Centre vs. Kingston in late December.

It turned into an offensive free-for-all, and the Frontenacs scored the eventual game-winner while shorthanded in the third period and went on to win 6-5.

A frustrated Guadagnolo stormed off the ice, irate that the 67's would provide such poor support in a game that could have showcased his talent in front of a big crowd.

Guadagnolo and Spezza shared the backup role after the OHL trade deadline, and both watched as Battochio carried the club through its improbable run through the playoffs and into the Memorial Cup.

Guadagnolo was always decent, respectful and a good player.

DESERVES SHOT

So will his strategy work? For now, all he can do is wait because Kilrea is in no hurry, just as long as Battochio stays healthy and doesn't get tired. That might mean Guadagnolo will sit by the phone for at least three months until the trade deadline.

You can only hope it works out in his best interest because he deserves a shot.

UNDER PRESSURE: Big things are expected down the road from rookie John Tavares, the 15-year-old taken first overall by Oshawa in last May's OHL draft. But the Sudbury Wolves are taking the hype to a higher level. Last weekend when the 67's were in the Nickel City for a game, the PA announcer promoted an upcoming game against the Generals by imploring fans to buy tickets to watch Tavares, "the next Sidney Crosby." In that game on Friday, Tavares scored his fourth goal of the season 1:52 after the opening faceoff, but was held in check the rest of the way as the Wolves skated to a 6-2 victory.

INTO THE FUTURE: Don't be surprised if 67's D Elgin Reid gets to wear the captain's letter some day. "Elgin's a noisy leader, while Julian (Talbot) is a quiet one,'' Kilrea said earlier this week. ''But there's no doubt that he's being groomed as our next captain because he's very well thought of around the team and around the league."

ODDS AND ENDS: 67's rookie Logan Couture was set to be taken first overall by Oshawa until the league allowed the Gens to draft Tavares as an underage player. Wonder what Couture thought of those announcements in Sudbury? ... By the way, "The Next Sidney Crosby" and the Generals make their first trip to the Civic Centre on Nov. 25 ... Should be a good tilt at the Steve Yzerman Arena on Tuesday night when the Pembroke Lumber Kings visit the Nepean Raiders in CJHL action.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub


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