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The Good , The Bad and The Ugly

It was the good, the bad and the ugly for the Niagara Ice Dogs this week-end. With an unusual three games in a row, the Niagara team had a loss, a win, and a come back win.

The Thursday night home opener was deemed as “ugly” in the head line of the local paper. With expectations high for the home time crowd, the home opener was a brutal 6-4 loss against the Mississauga Majors. With nine players attending NHL camps, the Ice Dogs have had limited time during training camp and the exhibition season to play together as a team. With Strome and Friesen still away, and their return iffy, and other players trying a little too hard to be the hero, the team lacked cohesion necessary if they are to meet the high predications of the pre-season. One bright light was the two goal performance of forward Joel Wigle.

Friday’s 4-2 win against the Barrie Colts was “good” as the crowd was able to see glimpses of what the Dogs might be able to do as the season progresses. Johnson Andrew was named first star of the game. On Thursday night Andrews hit the score sheet early with a penalty following a fight with Jamie Wise of the Majors. ( Andrews admits there has been a history with Wise and deemed this fight “as the rubber match” which was over too quickly and might need to be decided at another time. Friday evening against the Colts Andrews kept his gloves on and got on the score sheet with two goals to help his team to their first win of the season.

Andrews is the centre of the one of the many sub-plots of what is often a soap opera within the OHL. Currently Andrews is one of three over-agers on the Ice Dog roster. OHL rules make it necessary to have only three OAs come January. However, Andrew’s life long friend Alex Frieson is currently playing for the Chicago Wolves, AHL affiliate for Vancouver Canucks. The thinking is there is a 50-50 chance for Friesen’s return. While his return would be celebrated as a great addition to the Ice Dogs, it just might put Andrew’s spot as an over-ager on the team in jeopardy.

Growing up doors apart from each other in near-by Niagara-on-the-Lake, Friesen and Andrews played together their entire hockey careers. Still in close contact, Andrews says Friesen is enjoying his stay in Chicago and various reports state Friesen is doing well on the team. Time will tell how this drama unfolds. Will Friesen stay in the AHL honing his skills for a future NHL career but potentially losing out on an expected Memorial Cup run? Will Friesen’s return result in ousting his life long friend from the Ice Dog roster? Will Andrews unexpectedly bump David Pacan or Andrew Agozinno out of the line up to make room for Friesen? Only time will tell, but it is an interesting story to keep watching.

On Saturday night the Ice Dogs travelled to Belleville to face the Bulls. It began as a “bad” game with a quick 3-0 deficit early in the first. As first star of the game Freddie Hamilton stated in an after game interview, the team needed to “wake up” and they made a come back defeating the Bulls 5-3.

Dog Bytes:

  • Ice Dogs opened their home season on Thursday night with an emotional tribute to James Dean, a local AAA player who passed away from cancer in the summer. The Niagara Ice Dogs have dedicated their season to James.
  • Mark Visentin left Friday night’s game part way through the first suffering a groin injury. According to Coach Williamson he may be on the side lines a few weeks, Williamson rates it “a one out of three” injury.
  • Back up goalie Jaroslav Pavelka, drafted from Czechoslovakia, may not speak any English but understands the body language of hockey. He received a standing O from the home crowd on Friday after a spectacular save from a Barrie Colt break-away. He was also named third star of the game against Barrie. Unfortunately the next night Pavelka was pulled early into the first period of the Belleville game, replaced by Niagara local Mike Gallardi after two quick goals by the Bulls.
  • Recent Ice Dog acquisition from Sudbury, Brock Beukeboom, has been scratched for several weeks due to a back injury.
  • Ryan Strome is still with the New York Islanders.
  • Team Canada goalie scout Ron Tugnutt was in attendance Thursday night watching Visentin and Mississauga Major’s J.P Anderson. Unfortunately both goalies were not on the top of their game.
  • Ice Dog mascot “Bones” celebrated his birthday on Friday night with cupcakes for all and a between period hockey game with several mascots from through out the region.
  • Ice Dog coach Marty Williamson admits the team is “out of sync”. With NHL camp attendees as late arrivals to the team, expected players leaving for the OHL Subway Series as well as the Team Canada World Juniors tournament, it will be a difficult season for the Ice Dogs to get it together. I’m sure many OHL teams wish they had these problems.

Comments :

2 comments to “The Good , The Bad and The Ugly”
Anonymous said...

Great Blog Sue.

Don (Ice Dogs Head Usher)

Anonymous said...

That was well put Sue, and I agree that many teams in the OHL wish they had the same talent. We will just have to wait a few more games for them to start geling as the team they were last year. As for the over ager's, I would hate to see any of them go, they are all a big part of the team. I enjoy following your blog, so keep the news coming.


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