2008–09: Run To The Finals
After 3 straight years of being knocked out of the playoffs by the Colts the Battalion built up a roster to make a deep run in 2008/2009. Brampton got off to a slow 2-6 start but with the return of Cody Hodgson and the addition of Evgeny Grachev the Troops went on a run of 16 straight wins setting a new franchise record for straight wins. The streak was the longest that any team achieved during the 08/09 regular season. Brampton also set a record of 12 straight home wins from October to December (another franchise record). During December Battalion forwards Cody Hodgson and Evgeny Grachev represented their respective countries (Canada and Russia) at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa. Grachev helped team Russia to a Bronze medal while Hodgson set a tournament high 16 points to lead Canada to its 5th straight Gold Medal.
After the tournament Brampton added more to their roster acquiring all star goaltender Thomas McCollum (who had also played for his home country of U.S.A. at the World Juniors), defenceman Josh Day, and forwards, Anthony Peluso, Matt Kang and Andrew Merrett. Brampton would enjoyed another long 12 game winning streak in January and February. At the end of the regular season Brampton would finish with a franchise record for wins in a season with 47 and points with 96. Brampton also set a franchise low for losses in a season with just 19 as Brampton finished in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference just 1 point behind the Belleville Bulls. Brampton however finished 1st in the Central Division for the 2nd straight season and the 3rd time in 4 years.
In the first round of the playoffs the Battalion would defeat the Peterborough Petes in 4 straight games for just the second sweep in franchise history (Guelph 2001 was the other). As Brampton advanced to the second round they would face the Mississauga St.Michaels Majors. It was the first time Brampton and Mississauga had ever faced each other in the post season. Brampton would come out on top in the Battle of Peel Region taking the series in 6 games to make it past the 2nd round in the first time in franchise history. Brampton would face the #1 Belleville Bulls in the Eastern Conference final. Despite Belleville holding home ice advantage Brampton would jump out to a 2-0 series lead with 4-1 and 7-2 wins. Belleville would win game 3 before Brampton took game 4 with a come from behind 4-3 win. Brampton had the opportunity to advance in game 5 in Belleville however the Bulls would win in double overtime on home ice to force a 6th game in Brampton. In the sixth game the Bulls held a 3-2 advantage after 2 periods however on the strength of a Matt Duchene hat trick and two goals by Cody Hodgson the Battalion would win the game 7-4 for their first ever Conference championship and advance to the OHL Finals.
Brampton would take on the Windsor Spitfires in the Finals. Game 1 was a disaster as Windsor destroyed Brampton 10-1. Windsor would also take game 2 by a 5-3 score before Brampton finally won in game 3 in Windsor 4-2. However Windsor would win game 4 in Brampton 4-1. Game 5 in Windsor went to overtime however the Spits would score a power play goal to win the game 2-1 and win the OHL Championship ending the Battalion’s long season.
After it was all over Battalion import Evgeny Grachev was named OHL rookie of the year. Matt Duchene collected Scholastic Player of the Year honors, while Cody Hodgson named the OHL’s most Sportsmanlike player and Most Outstanding Player. Hodgson then collected CHL Player Of The Year honors, the first Battalion player to ever receive the award. Finally in June Matt Duchene was chosen 3rd overall in the NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche.
Famous quotes containing the word run:
“Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.”
—George Burns (b. 1896)