By Tim Morris
When the Ottawa Junior Senators acquired Blair Battochio via a trade, they received a defenseman that only wants to win.
When Battochio asked the Kingston Voyageurs to be traded after last season, he knew where he wanted to go.
“I knew they (Junior Senators) were winners and I wanted to be there,” said the 19-year-old. “They were my first choice.”
Battochio got what he wanted before the start of the 2018-19 Central Canada Hockey League season getting traded to Ottawa. The defenseman saw the difference in the team culture from the start.
“This team is more focused on winning,” the defenseman said. “You can see the difference. You can tell it with the guys in practice. They go hard at each other.”
Battochio joined an Ottawa team coming off its finest season. In addition to winning the CCHL Yzerman Division title, the Junior Sens captured the post-season CCHL Bogart and Fred Page Cups.
Battochio prides himself on being an all-around player who as he explained “can be used in any situation.” He’s not a stay-at-home defenseman.
“I can play both ways and pitch in offensively,” he remarked. What he also brings to Ottawa, he said, is someone who is “reliable wherever I am needed.”
This season, he’s looking to contribute more offensively. “I need to be more aggressive putting the puck on net,” he noted.
After playing in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, moving to the CCHL was a step-up in competition for him. “Every night it’s a battle because of the parity in the league,” Battochio pointed out. “Every win feels pretty good.”
Battochio was able to adjust to the talent-level and speed in the CCHL to become one of the Senators’ most dependable defenseman. At 6-2, 190, Battochio is both a physical defenseman and a skater who can trigger the transition from defense to offense.
“Blair is an experienced Junior A defenceman that makes a good first pass,” said Ottawa GM/Coach Martin Dagenais. “He’s also a very good skater. He has a tendency to over-handle pucks sometimes, and that gets him in trouble. But when he keeps it simple, he’s very effective.
With a large turnover from the multiple Cup winning team of 2017-18, the Junior Senators welcomed a number of newcomers for this season. As expected, the team got off to a slow start while it discovered what combinations worked and didn’t work, who worked better with whom.
All the pieces have fallen into place and the Junior Senators are firing on all cylinders. They have moved up to third place in the Yzerman Division with a record of 23-10-2. Their 48 points are just five points behind the first place Rockland Nationals and, the Junior Senators have two games in hand.
“We have way more chemistry than we had earlier in the season,” said Battochio. “We get along well off the ice.”
Although he was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Battochio grew up in Brookfield, Connecticut. He has followed his older brother Brock into Canadian junior hockey.
“I learned a lot from him,” said Battochio of his brother. “We were always playing hockey.”
Like many players in junior hockey, Battochio’s ultimate goal is to play Division 1 collegiate hockey.