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Bulls have a changing of the guard

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (14/01/12) - Charlie Graham,16, makes a save against the Sudbury Wolves on Saturday Jan. 15. Graham came into the game to relieve John Chartrand after he allowed 3 goals on 15 shots. The Bulls lost the game 5-3 and remain winless at home for the new year. Photo by Andre Lodder.

By Andre Lodder

With Malcolm Subban still out with a groin injury and John Chartrand not at 100 per cent, the Bulls have looked to goalie Charlie Graham to carry the load.

After being selected in the 7th round, 125th overall in the OHL priority draft, Graham was called up after posting a record of 9-4-0-1 with a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage with the Wellington Dukes.

The 16-year-old got his first OHL win on January 12 against Brampton, but has now gone 1-4-1-0 with a 3.48 GAA and .887 save percentage in five games with the Bulls.

Graham remains optimistic despite not putting up impressive numbers with the Bulls.

“I’m just looking to come to the rink every day, work as much as I can, and get in as many games as I can. I’m still the youngest goalie here so I still have a lot to prove, but just learning stuff with the goalie coach and improving my game is the biggest thing,” said Graham.

Although the goal was to make the Bulls all along, not many would have predicted Graham to take such a substantial role so soon.

“It was my goal to be on this team, but you can’t predict everything. With Malcolm going down recently it gave me the opportunity and that was unexpected. I was preparing to be up here but you never know what’s going to happen.”

The unexpected continues, as Graham has recently taken over the starting after it was reported on the Bulls website that Chartrand is also out with injury.

As a result the Bulls have called up another 16-year-old, Braydon Banitsiotis from the Hamilton Bulldog Midgets.

However, Banitsiotis might not be with the big club for long as it’s been reported that Subban could possibly make a return as soon as the weekend.

Subban’s return would be welcome. Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors, was the Bulls’ eighth loss in the nine games since Subban went down.

Long-time Bulls fan John Wilson, also known as the man with the cymbals, hopes Malcolm can return soon but is excited to see Graham in goal.

“Subban’s our main goalie and we hope he gets back soon, but having a guy like Charlie in goal is a plus. If he keeps playing the way he is, I expect we’ll see a lot more of him, and I hope we do,” said Wilson.

With Subban possibly making his return soon, Graham is taking every opportunity to prove he can be the team’s number one goaltender in the future.

“I think Belleville’s lucky to get him. It’s a lot of responsibility and for the most part he’s carrying the games,” said Wilson.

“If he can carry the load than why not? Even if he is only 16-years-old.”