Jan 10th, 2004
The Rangers and Battalion opted to swap underperforming netminders at the deadline. The change of scenary might be most beneficial for Topping who has struggled mightly behind a porous Battalion defense which surprisingly of late has struggle more than the Rangers' inexperienced blueline. The Battalion have not had any luck with their netminding this season, the start of Brad Topping's season was severely delayed after he contracted Mono. His intended backup: Kevin Coulture recently broke his hand and during the month of December Topping was thrust into action game after game despite not being anywhere close to in mid-season shape.
Surprisingly the Rangers once had Joey Biasucci in their lineup alongside Carlo DiRienzo. For one completely season, as 17-year-olds Biasucci and Topping were the netminding duo of the Battalion during that season a terribly young as well as hapless Battalion team missed the postseason. Topping is the 5th netminder that the Rangers have used this season and 4th to record a win. He is also fifth in a lineup of 5 sequentially numbered netminders: #31 Tyson Kellerman, #32 Matt Leduc, #33 Carlo DiRienzo, #34 Joey Biasucci, and #35 Brad Topping.
Much of the Battalion's playoff success during
the first round, where they were thoroughly outshot by the Barrie Colts
was due to the stellar netminding of Topping who allowed the Battalion
to oust the Colts in 6 games. After take the first game of the second
round, the Battalion fell to the Majors who have played in 3 consecutive
Eastern finals. Brad Topping also played as an underager in relief
of Brian Finley during the 2001 playoffs against the Erie Otters.
Topping, like Kellerman is a taller netminder, he brings a more technically
sound game to the table for the Rangers, he plays the butterfly style well,
and sprawls very quickly on the ice.
Tyson Kellerman departs from the Rangers, after what could be best defined as a curious season. Prior to the season, he was sent home by the Saginaw Spirit, during that time he practiced with the Kingston Tier II team. After the season had started he was sent to the Rangers, in exchange for a conditional third round draft pick. During the previous season, Kellerman had stared in a 3-3 tie at the Aud where he made 56 saves, he also pitched a shutout in his portion of the All-Star game in Kitchener.
Tyson's awkward style which leant itself to poor puck control inability to trap many shots may have worked against him in Kitchener. His play was also very inconsistent, a one point he had back-to-back first star performances, he also struggled at times. He is the biggest Ranger netminder since Greg Scott, one of the most rugged OHL netminders ever, enjoyed time in Kitchener during the 1992-'93 season. Kellerman was an extremely gentlemanly player in Kitchener and in all likelyhood will be welcomed back by cheers later in the month when the Battalion make their only visit to Kitchener.
Special Thanks to Stephen Gardiner for the photos