Bratina Hangs Them Up

Posted: November 10, 2015 by OHLInsiders in News, North Bay Battalion News
Tags: , , , , ,

Unfortunate news out of ay this afternoon surrounding North Bay Battalion winger Zach Bratina will be retiring from hockey at the young age of 19. The high scoring native of Lindsay, ON played parts of 4 seasons. I say parts of because most were riddled with concussions, and various injuries that would eventually culminate in the promising talent calling it quits.

Second in league scoring only to Erie Otters high scoring NHL prospect, Alex DeBrincat, Bratina managed to score 12 goals and add 3 assists in 12 games played. Over his 4 years in the OHL, which have been riddled with concussions, the promising Bratina managed to total 95 points in 182 games played.

The 100% symptom free Bratina started his career playing for the Plymouth Whalers, in that same year he was dealt to the Saginaw Spirit and it was shortly thereafter where he suffered his first concussion.  “I have not been symptom free since the start of my career in Saginaw,” said Bratina. “I came back to quick for playoffs and it never stopped from there,” he continued.

Sometimes you hear stories of players being pushed back into action for important playoff games, Bratina said he felt that way about how his situation was handled in Saginaw. Although he was first to say it isn’t at the fault of the Saginaw Spirit or any other team that may be dealing with concussion situations.  “In Saginaw, I was also young and nieve,” admits Bratina.

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Zach Bratina – North Bay Battalion

After parts of two seasons in Saginaw, Bratina was moved to the North Bay Battalion halfway through the 2013-2014 season. Zach remains nothing but thankful for the opportunity Stan Butler and the Battalion provided him. “My relationship with Stan is amazing. almost father son like. he took me under his wing from day one and gave me ever opportunity he could,” says Bratina. “I became a better player over the past year with Stan then my first two years combined. he was an amazing person to me. He taught me a lot about hockey and myself. We were close.”

Bratina for one last time got his bell rung earlier this season on October 25th in a game against the Mississauga Steelheads. He had remained out of game action until his retirement today. “I never felt forced to come back,” says Bratina. “He (Stan) understood and he supported me. He wants what’s best for my health and will help me move forward from here.”

“Concussions aren’t looked after properly in this league and several people play through it for years. I did.” This is certainly not a problem in only the OHL and Bratina realizes this. “I feel like concussions everywhere are still un-traced in a lot of cases and brushed aside. It’s something that people don’t notice and only you can feel the effects. There is no cast for your brain so people don’t believe you all the time.”

“My career highlight was bringing playoffs to North Bay,” said Bratina. “Winning the conference my first year here and making it to the conference final again are occasions I will not forget. Also just the start I had to this season was amazing for me.”

As for Zach Bratina’s immediate future, “A lot of treatment,” Bratina stated very plain and simply. Exciting things lie ahead for Bratina though. He will be taking advantage of his education package and become a full time student next year. “I will be taking a degree in business and I haven’t decided 100% on a university yet.” When asked about following his mentor and role model Stan Butler into coaching, “I’d love to try and get into stuff like that,” Bratina said.

“I’ll always be thankful to the people who gave me an opportunity to play at this level,” said Bratina. One individual that stood out in Bratina’s mind is Mike Vellucci, who opened up the door into the OHL for the promising winger by drafting him 19th overall back in 2012.

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