Rallying Brampton's Troops

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Fourteen-game win streaks are always sweet.

But a couple of things gave Matt Duchene a hint this red-hot Brampton Battalion run could be special, too.

"The first was getting past Windsor, which had won 13 in a row earlier this year," said the sophomore forward and Brampton leading scorer. "That's the No. 1-ranked team in the league so you know you're doing something."

The second?

"The team had a float in the (Brampton) Santa Claus parade and people were calling out to us," the 17-year-old from Haliburton said. "They were mentioning the streak and saying they were going to come to see us (play). That's always encouraging."

Since Trivial Pursuit co- creator Scott Abbott formed the Troops, attracting a large audience has been as difficult as answering enough questions to fill up the plastic pies from his famous board game.

But captain Cody Hodgson is back from Vancouver and is leading the charge with Duchene, another world junior team hopeful. Suddenly, Stan Butler's boys have announced themselves as legitimate title contenders, whether or not the Powerade Centre's purple seats are occupied.

"We know Windsor and London are obviously good teams but I think this streak (Brampton rocketed to the top of the Central Division) shows we can play with anyone," Duchene said. "We have a team that can challenge for the Memorial Cup this year."

The Battalion needed three shootout wins and an overtime victory to keep this 14-gamer rolling.

"We scored in the last 20 seconds against Guelph to tie it and keep it alive and that's against probably the best goalie (Red Wings prospect Thomas McCollum) in junior hockey right now," Duchene said.

"There are all kinds of superstitions in hockey. We're just trying to keep the same routine every day. Whoever talks before a game, says the same thing. That kind of stuff."

Incredibly, the streak developed on the heels of a three-game losing streak and started during a two-game suspension to their best player -- Hodgson.

"It was kind of a cheesy call, he was given an instigator penalty," Duchene said.

"But we won a couple and then he came back and we kept it going."

It's been rolling since an Oct. 11 loss in Sudbury. Brampton hasn't lost at home since its season opener Sept. 19 against the Ottawa 67's.

The Battalion are in the nation's capital on Friday.

Duchene and Hodgson, both centres, don't play on the same line except on power plays.

But they'll represent Brampton together at the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge tomorrow in Guelph and Monday in St. Catharines and are world junior candidates.

"I look at it as a three-step process," Duchene said. "The first is to play in this series. The second is to get invited to camp and the third is to actually make the team."

AROUND THE O

Doug Gilmour, Kingston's new head coach, has more bench experience than successful London coach Dale Hunter had when he took over the Knights' reins seven years ago. What the former Maple Leafs great doesn't have is absolute power. Hunter is majority owner and president of the team and his younger brother Mark is the GM. Gilmour will report to his old junior coach Larry Mavety, the Frontenacs' GM, and owner Doug Springer, the president and governor . . . Midwest Division-leading London is 5-0 with two shutouts since acquiring goalie Trevor Cann from Peterborough. The Petes are 2-3 since the trade and have surrendered five goals in three of those games . . . Welcome back to OHL active duty, Garrett Wilson. The young Owen Sound forward has served all 15 games of his suspension for what many believe was a questionable slew-foot call against Kitchener's Dan Kelly.


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