The Niagara Ice Dogs faced tough goal tending this week-end at the Jack Gatecliff Arena. With a 4-1 win over the Brampton Battalions Thursday night and a loss in a shoot-out to Sudbury Saturday, the Ice Dogs continue a five game point earning streak.
Thursday evening’s 4-1 win over the Brampton Battalions was a goaltending dual with the Battalion’s Keegan Wilson stopping 37 of 41 shots and at the other end of the ice, in his debut as an Ice Dog, Christopher Festarini stopped all but one of 31 shots.
Saturday had Visentin back in the net where he stopped 23 shots until the shoot-out. Johan Mattsson for the Sudbury would not make an easy night for the Ice Dogs. While the Ice Dog’s offense kept pounding away with 45 shots, the Sudbury net minder would allow only one goal in regulation time. Following a scoreless overtime period the Ice Dogs left the ice with a sole point as only Alex Friesen could score again the Wolves while the Michael Sgarbossa and Mathew Campagna scored for Sudbury.
Festarini’s victorious performance Thursday evening proved the Ice Dogs’ goal tending worries are over. While Visentin leads the league with 2 shut outs and is back in stellar form, his success comes at a price. This week’s announcement Visentin has been selected for Team OHL in the Super Subway series could be a sign of things to come such as selection to Team Canada. Such an honour however means missing games in December and January in order to participate in the World Juniors Championship.
With the Ice Dogs’ slow start this season they can ill afford to throw away any games. So with the anticipated absence of Visentin, the team needed a quality goalie partner on hand. Quality is what they seem to have found in Festarini, acquired in a trade with Erie. The departure of Niagara’s third goal tender Jaroslav Pavelka seems imminent
In conversation with Visentin, he credits the Ice Dogs’ win column improvement with the team tightening up defensively as well as the coaching staff “making sure the guys pay attention to the small details.” He adds his goalie partner Festarini played a solid game and was happy for him to get his first win with the team.
Now that the week-end games are over Visentin can begin to prepare for the up-coming Super Subway Series where he will join fellow Dogs Dougie Hamilton, Freddie Hamilton and Ryan Strome on Team OHL. While during the regular season many of his Team OHL or Team Canada team mates are rivals, Visentin looks forward to the Subway Series as being “a lot of fun, being part of those games, seeing your old friends again.”
While camaraderie may be one perk of being selected to represent one’s country, being a goaltender also has additional compensation. As a member of last year’s Team Canada Visentin was given a special goalie mask to wear and he proudly keeps. “It was a special feeling when I first saw that mask.”
Hockey Canada holds a contest with young hockey fans to design the mask for the Team Canada goal tenders. Visentin gives kudos to the young artists as he thinks his mask is “wicked”. Visentin got the black mask but admits he was a little jealous he couldn’t keep his partner Olivier Roy’s white mask as well because he “wanted both of them!”
His advice for artists entering this year’s competition? “Don’t be afraid to go crazy, put some cool designs on it, different things are what catch peoples’ eyes….. Try to be unique, try to be original.”
Visentin thinks the Hockey Canada contest is a “great opportunity for kids to get their stuff out there.” Details about this year’s contest can be found at http://www.hockeycanada.ca/DAM. The contest closes on November 18th so get designing!
- Many fans wondered aloud why Strome was not included as a shooter in Saturday evening’s shoot-out. (Theoret, Friesen, F. Hamilton were the chosen three)
- 200+ children participated in a between period Hallowe’en costume parade Saturday evening - so many it delayed the flood.
- 6 members of the St. Catharines City council (including Mayor McMullen) were in attendance Saturday evening. Research for a decision regarding a new arena???? Hmmmmmm……
- Yours truly was the between period guest with Chuck Lafleur on the Ice Dog game broadcast on www.theLakefm.ca (do we sense desperation for guests??? )