NORTH BAY, Ont. – The North Bay Battalion has acquired Zach Bratina from the Saginaw Spirit in a trade for fellow left winger Blake Clarke, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Friday.
Both Bratina and Clarke are 17 and were first-round picks in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection, Bratina 19th overall by the Plymouth Whalers and Clarke 15th overall by the Brampton Battalion.
Bratina, six-foot-one and 183 pounds, has scored five goals and earned nine assists for 14 points in 30 games with Saginaw this season. He totaled six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 50 games split between Plymouth and Saginaw as a rookie. Bratina had one assist in three playoff games with the Spirit.
Plymouth traded Bratina, a resident of Lindsay, Ont., who played his minor midget season with the Central Ontario Wolves, to Saginaw last Jan. 10 in the deal in which the Whalers acquired eventual OHL scoring champion Vincent Trocheck.
“He’s a very good player, a first-round pick,” Stan Butler, Battalion director of hockey operations and head coach, said of Bratina. “He’s a skilled player and a good skater who brings some physicality as well.”
Butler, who called the deal “a trade I feel is good for both teams,” said Bratina likely will take Clarke’s spot on what’s generally regarded as the second line.
“That’s kind of our goal. He’s going to play with (Matt) MacLeod and (Nick) Paul.”
Butler said he hoped Bratina would arrive at Memorial Gardens in time to practise Friday before the Battalion visits the Sudbury Wolves at 7 p.m. Saturday in both teams’ first game after the Christmas break.
Bratina is set to become the first player to have worn both North Bay and Saginaw colours since the Centennials left the Gateway City for Michigan for the 2002-03 season.
Clarke, from Wildwood, Mo., had one goal and two assists for three points in 21 games with the Battalion this season, losing 14 games to a torn rotator cuff suffered in the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at Pittsburgh on Sept. 26. He recorded 19 goals and 32 assists for 51 points in 68 games in 2012-13, finishing fourth in rookie scoring, before adding three goals and three assists for six points in five playoff games.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)