Battalion, Petes in battle

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

When they gave up significant pieces of their respective hockey clubs before the Ontario Hockey League trade deadline, both Jeff Twohey and Stan Butler remained hopeful of reaching the playoffs.

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, though, it's probable just one will realize those hopes. There is one playoff race left, and it involves Twohey's Peterborough Petes and Butler's Brampton Battalion. The Petes are in ninth in the Eastern Conference with 51 points and six games to go; the Battalion is eighth with 53 points and five games left. The Ottawa 67's are in seventh spot with 57 points.

"We thought we had guys on our team who were capable of stepping up, and some have," Twohey, the Petes general manager, said. "We knew there would be risk, but we would rather have growing pains now than for all of next year."

Twohey, whose team won the OHL championship a year ago, dealt Steve Downie to the Kitchener Rangers and Daniel Ryder to the Plymouth Whalers. Two months later, those two still are tied for the Petes scoring lead, but the players Twohey acquired, John Armstrong and Yves Bastien, should be integral contributors for the next few years.

Butler, the only director of hockey operations the Battalion has known, sent his best defenceman, Maple Leafs prospect Phil Oreskovic, to the Owen Sound Attack along with underrated forward Howie Martin. Thomas Stajan, a cousin of Leafs forward Matt Stajan, was the integral piece coming back for Butler.

The Petes' chances of making the playoffs became more difficult last weekend when top forward Justin Soryal suffered a broken hand in a fight with Theo Peckham of the Attack. And a glance at the schedule would suggest the Battalion, with four more home games, has a better shot than the Petes. But Butler is not counting his chickens yet.

"We're under .500 at home (12-14-1-3) so it's not like we have a great record here," Butler said. "If (the Petes) go 2-1 this weekend and we're 0-3, they go two points up. It looks to me like this is going to go right down to the end of the season."

BRIEFLY

The Kingston Frontenacs will get a large boost tonight in Brampton. Forward Cory Emmerton, a second-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings last year, will be in the lineup for the first time since suffering a broken ankle on Dec. 17. Emmerton had 58 points in 35 games before he was hurt ... Patrick Kane of the London Knights has 129 points and had a five-point bulge on the Belleville Bulls' Tyler Donati in the scoring race before last night. John Tavares, 16, is third with 116 points and and leads the league with 62 goals in 60 games. In 125 career games, Tavares has 107 goals.


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