October 11 marked an historic day for the Ontario Hockey League when the former Brampton Battalion played their first game in North Bay after relocating in the offseason.
The Battalion resided in Brampton for 15 years before the decision was made to move the team north.
Over 4,000 fans packed the North Bay Memorial Gardens, along with many Bramptonians, to see their beloved Battalion.
“As soon as we stepped foot on that ice the fans went crazy. It’s definitely something that all the guys from Brampton last year aren’t used to and it’s a great feeling to have all this fan support in North Bay” said Battalion goaltender Jake Smith.
In the final four seasons in Brampton, the Battalion had the lowest attendance in all of the OHL. This ultimately led to a change in scenery for the organization.
Toronto native Nick Paul scored the first home goal in North Bay Battalion history when he tipped a point shot past the Peterborough Petes goaltender in the second period.
“It feels really special to get the first one. It wasn’t going through my mind at first but when I came to the bench and saw all the guys and they gave me a pat on the back, it just hit me that it was the first one” said Paul.
The Battalion faithful from Brampton held no grudges about having their team taken from them. They crowded around the Battalion dressing room after the game to catch a glimpse of their former home team.
The North Bay Battalion ended up losing their inaugural home game to Peterborough 2-1, but despite the loss, the atmosphere was upbeat.
With the departure of the Battalion from Brampton, the Mississauga Steelheads and the Oshawa Generals are the only two OHL teams left in the GTA.