Battler cracks under-23 squad

Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

Kincardine native Easton Battler will represent Canada at the 2017 AAU International inline hockey tournament in California this month.

Easton Battler seen here with the London Fury. (Independent file photo)

 

Battler learned last week that he was selected to Canada Inline's under-23 team that will travel to California next week.

"I'm pretty excited obviously," said Battler. "I didn't think I would ever represent Canada in any sport, so it was pretty cool when I got the call."

Battler, currently living and working in Toronto, will leave for California July 8. The AAU International tournament begins July 10 and runs until July 13. Games will be played in Los Angeles, Orange County and Long Beach.

Battler attended two tryout sessions in Oakville earlier this season. He is the only Ontario-born player on the under-23 team. Ten of the players on the 12-man roster are from British Columbia. One other player hails from Manitoba.

"I got an e-mail last Friday," said Battler. "I have a feeling I found out so late because another player dropped out, but I will take it."

Many would assume Battler is a goaltender, which isn't the case. He backstopped Kincardine District Secondary School to an OFSAA provincial hockey championship and grew up as a goaltender, but he took up the sport of inline hockey in high school as a forward. He has never strapped on the pads in an inline hockey game, and this season tallied 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points in nine games in the Platinum/Gold Division of the Mississauga Roller Hockey League.

He first played in Walkerton with the Bruce County Ballisticks program and later with the London Fury in the now-defunct London Inline Hockey Association.

Battler is a smooth skater and has a wicked snap shot with a quick release. Still, he isn't quite sure what to expect.

"I'm the only player on the team who hasn't played junior or college hockey (on the ice), so hopefully I don't look too out of place out there. It would be nice to put up some points."

His league action at the Hershey Centre wraps up this week, before he leaves for California.

Canada is the defending champion of the under-23 division at the AAU Games. For the first time, Canada sent six teams to last year's AAU tournament, which was held in Hawaii. All six teams came home with gold medals.

"I didn't give work much choice in the matter," laughed Battler, a graduate of the University of Western Ontario who has been working on the new subway line being constructed in Toronto.

Adam Quish of Walkerton will also make the trip to California. Quish is a goaltender in ice hockey, and also in inline hockey. He will backstop Canada's under-16 team at the AAU tournament.

Kincardine native Kendra Fisher will represent Canada at the FIRS World Championship Roller Games tournament in China later this summer, but she will not play at the AAU tournament in California. Fisher has been a mainstay in the Canadian crease for years in international action.