Sens get 67's Bickell on track to graduate

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:35 PM ET

67's winger Bryan Bickell, a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, is unsure what he's going to do with his Ottawa Senators track suit.

It's his standard uniform when he toils at his other job -- lending a hand to Senators equipment managers Scott Allegrino and Chris Cook.

He landed the gig as part of a high-school placement, and is getting a front row and behind-the-scenes view of life in the NHL.

"It's kind of weird, and kind of neat at the same time," says Bickell, drafted in the second round of the 2004 NHL by Chicago.

"Hopefully, one of these days, I'll be playing against these guys."

Last spring, Bickell cut back on his high school course load when the 67's went on its run to the Memorial Cup, leaving him two credits shy of graduation.

Brian Patafie, the 67's trainer, suggested that he might try working with the Senators to earn the credits.

So using his connections with Allegrino -- they both worked in the AHL a few years back -- he set things up for Bickell.

Starting in September, Bickell has been going to the Corel Centre every day except when the team is on the road.

He helps with cleanup duties, laundry, the moving of equipment, repairs, and various other tasks that he and other OHL veterans would usually leave for the rookies at the Civic Centre.

But it's the close-up views of practices and games that gets Bickell pumped about the job.

"I watch what they do and try to use their techniques and what works for them," he says.

"You just look at Alfredsson and Heatley and you just see how much of an unreal line that is."

Perhaps some of the stuff Bickell sees at the Corel Centre is starting to rub off.

He scored twice during Friday's 7-4 win over Sarnia and has a goal in eight straight games, and will try to extend the streak to an OHL season-high nine tomorrow at home against Peterborough.

The only strange part of the job is Bickell's connection with the Blackhawks, who the Senators do not play during the 2005-06 regular season.

Bickell admits he's heard jokes about being a spy for Chicago, but just chuckles and goes about his business.

'JUST FOR HIGH SCHOOL'

"I've told one of our scouts who's around Ottawa (Tim Higgins) that it's just for high school," he says.

So if the Senators end up winning the Stanley Cup, would he get onto the ice for the traditional group photo?

"I don't know. I don't think I should," says Bickell.

He knows at some point he'll need to get rid of the track suit.

"I'll probably give it to my billets."

FOUR ON THE FLOOR: The CJHL will have a strong presence at Wednesday's CJAHL Prospects Game in Yorkton, Sask., the first ever showcase event of its kind for junior A. Among the four CJHL players attending is winger Ryan Lasch of the Pembroke Lumber Kings, ranked No. 2 in the national junior A ratings.

Also representing the CJHL: Nepean goalie Ian Dams, Nepean defenceman Matt Cowie, and Hawkesbury defenceman Phillipe Devault.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Peterborough Petes, in town for an afternoon game against the 67's today, began the week ranked the top team in the CHL, but have lost two straight for the first time this year ... It's an important game for Ottawa, which lost 5-4 in Peterborough last month in the last meeting between the clubs. The 67's fought back to take the lead in the third, but lost it on two Petes goals in the final five minutes ... Ottawa rookie Logan Couture showed why he's the real deal during Friday's win over Sarnia with a four-point night. Coach Brian Kilrea has been raving about the kid's shot, now he's praising Couture for his passing skills after setting up three nice goals in the victory. At this rate, Couture is destined to be a early first-round NHL pick in 2007.

IN THE CREASE: Danny Battochio starts in net today against the Petes ... Classy move by Florida Panthers player and Rockland native Serge Payer. He dedicated his season to Sebastien Savage, the St-Albert native and former 67 left paralyzed after an on-ice accident in October while playing university hockey in the Maritimes ... Ottawa D and Czech import Jakub Vojta will play for his country at the upcoming world juniors, but Kilrea hopes his player will focus on upcoming OHL games. "I'll be careful when I say this," said Kilrea. "We want to make sure he realizes there are more games to play here before he gets there." Vojta was the first overall pick of the European draft ... The Gatineau Olympiques try for a seventh straight win today in Victoriaville ... And speaking of Czech imports, former 67's forward Jakub Petruzalek has returned to his homeland and is playing for Litvinov in his country's senior league.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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