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Goalie Dalton McGrath Reflects on his Fight with Fellow Keeper Brandon Hope


By: JEFF BLAY

NIAGARA - Niagara IceDogs back-up goaltender Dalton McGrath had more than a successful weekend in his return from a lower-body injury as he led his team to two wins in two consecutive starts.

“It felt really good to get back in the game,” McGrath said. “I came in with a lot of confidence knowing Marty [Williamson] could start me in back-to-back games, and when I get my opportunity I just have to roll with it.”

Mark Visentin had to carry the full load for many games when McGrath was injured, and after the IceDogs 4-1 loss to the Erie Otters Wednesday night, McGrath’s improved health came just at the right time.

The first win of the weekend came on Thursday night when McGrath and the ‘Dogs took a 5-2 victory over the Sudbury Wolves. McGrath played a solid game between the pipes stopping 32 of 34 shots to help lead the squad to victory.

McGrath vs Hope, Mar. 5/2011. Photo Courtesy Joel Smith
His next game was the highlight of the weekend as he turned away 14 Sarnia Sting shots before getting into a centre-ice scrap with opposing goaltender, Brandon Hope. 

The spirited tilt between the two netminders made Sportsnet and TSN highlight reels, and lasted longer than any of the goalie fights that occurred in the NHL this season. (Dalton McGrath vs Brandon Hope)

“He [Hope] shook is gloves at me, so I shook mine back and then we skated to centre and went at it,” McGrath explained. “I thought I’d do it to get the team going. Obviously the fans enjoyed it too, but you think about the team first.

“I’ve always wanted to get in a fight, and going back into the room I was still pretty fired up. I thought I did pretty well, and the guys said I did too, so we were all happy with it after.”

The IceDogs also had an exceptional night offensively against the Sting, potting ten goals to give them a 10-3 victory over the visiting team. The only other time Niagara scored in the double digits this season was against McGrath’s former team, the Barrie Colts.

“The start of the year was a tough go in Barrie, so I know how it feels, but getting traded over here was good for me especially coming over with Arch [Darren Archibald] made it easy for me,” explained the 19-year-old Toronto native. “I also knew Stromer [Ryan Strome] and Gronny [Simon Gronvaldt], so it was an easy transition and now we have a great team here so we’re hoping to go far in the playoffs.

“I know what my role is here. I just have to continue to work hard, contribute to the team and be there if Visentin goes down or needs a break, but obviously we hope nothing like that will happen.”

McGrath has now played in 14 games for the IceDogs this season, posting 2.72 GAA with a 0.909 save percentage and a record of 10-3-0-0. 

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