The Niagara Ice Dogs celebrated Coach Marty Williamson’s 500th career OHL game with a big win. While the boys razzed him about the milestone on the bench, it was on the ice the team paid tribute to their coach by putting the puck in the net -many times -with a 6-1 defeat of the Central Division’s top ranked Brampton Battalion.
Williamson began his odyssey into the coaching profession after returning to Ontario following a brief career as a pro hockey player in the minor leagues and in Europe. Williamson says he just fell into coaching at the age of 27 when he realized he still had the passion for the game and an opportunity arose to help a friend with a midget team. Williamson eventually became the head coach of the team which led him to good success in the Junior A tier two league. In 2004 Williamson was named head coach of the Barrie Colts in the OHL.
It was at his first game in the OHL he was welcomed to the league by Ottawa 67s coach Brian Kilrea. Williamson views Kilrea as one of his mentors saying “he is the model in this league….a wonderful man and good friend.” While Williamson wanted to be like Kilrea and stay with one team throughout his OHL career, Williamson was lured away from the Barrie Colts to become coach and general manager of the Niagara Ice Dogs in 2010.
While Williamson enjoys the added role of general manager, he says “coaching is where the fun is at.” He particularly enjoys the OHL because “it is a development league. For me as a player I would have loved to go to the NHL… To watch these guys reach their dreams, I get a kick out of it. They’ve got talent, they’ve got the pursuit. It’s great to be part of it. The coaching staff here is a great part of guiding them (towards pro careers)….Being in the dressing room with the guys is the best part.”
While Williamson led the Tier II Aurora Tigers to the Royal Bank Cup which he says is “one of the toughest trophies to win,” don’t count him out yet for winning the Memorial Cup which many believe is the toughest trophy to win. Williamson says the Ice Dogs are still on track to have a successful year. He says the Ice Dogs are “starting to win week-ends and get consistency. There is work to do to get the team where I want it, a piece or two missing….. Everything looks great on paper. We’ve got the skill and talent to be a top team. We need a little more grit added to this team…, with my GM hat, my job to do in the next month or two is to add that…..I still believe in this hockey team…we have gone through a lot of adversity but we are going to have a strong second half.”
The Ice Dogs may have more adversity in the near future as Mark Visentin, Ryan Strome, and Dougie and Freddie Hamilton are expected to leave to attend Team Canada selection camp and then subsequently for the World Juniors. Williamson says the “four really have a good chance to make Team Canada (and it will be a) tough 7 games without them. But those guys will win a gold medal and make this team better when they get back.”
- Carter Verhaeghe scored his first career OHL goal Thursday evening against Brampton
- Trevor Peterson scored his first career OHL goal Friday evening against Windsor
- Broderick Kelly has been called up from the St. Catharines Junior B squad
- Two former Ice Dog goaltenders shared the game Friday night for Windsor- John Cullen and Jaro Pavelka
- Ice Dogs swept the week-end:
-Thursday defeated Brampton 6-1
-Friday defeated Windsor 6-3
-Saturday defeated Sarnia 4-2