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Spitfire Connections in Niagara

The Windsor Spitfires spent the week-end in Niagara and despite a valiant Spitfire effort in the last few minutes of the Saturday evening game the Ice Dogs were able to hang on for a 4-3 victory. For a complete over view of the game check out the Niagara Ice Dog site

There are lots of Niagara connections to the young Spitfire team.

Tom Kuhnhackl was recently acquired from Windsor by the Ice Dogs on November 2nd. Unfortunately, on November 4th Kuhnhackl was suspended for 20 games (a third of the season) for a hit on Kitchener Rangers defenceman Ryan Murphy.

John Cullen, the Spitfire’s goalie who had to sit out Saturday’s game due to a violent virus (read throwing up all over) interpreted his ex-teammate’s consequence as OHL Commissioner David Branch having “set the bar high” and wanting to make the league safe for the young players. Throughout the OHL there is much conversation (controversy) regarding the heavy suspension imposed versus the need to keep young hockey players safe from dangerous head shots.

With the bar set so high we are all in anticipation of what the possible consequence could/should be for London Knight Ryan Rupert who two-handed Sault Ste Marie’s Nick Cousins on Friday night. If Kuhnhackl got 20 what does Rupert get? Make your own opinion after watching:

John Cullen made his OHL debut in 2008 with the Niagara Ice Dogs the same season as current Ice Dog goaltender Mark Visentin. While Cullen self-deprecatingly refers to himself as a “suitcase” to describe his circuitous time in the OHL, (Niagara, Kingston, Sarnia and now Windsor) with the momentous trade of Windsor’s (and Team USA star) Jack Campbell to the Soo, Cullen is now the starting goalie for the Spitfires. Because of Cullen’s aforementioned illness, Pavelka the backup goalie made the start Saturday evening against the Ice Dogs.

Jaroslav Pavelka, acquired in a trade from the Ice Dogs for Tom Kuhnackl, put on a great show Saturday night fending off a Niagara strong offense. Jaroslav Pavelka, was selected by the Ice Dogs 52nd in the 2011 CHL Import draft. There was some trepidation prior to Saturday’s game that the Ice Dogs would look foolish if Pavelka was able to steal a game away from the Dogs. (a fear which was certainly a possibility)

Jordan Malletta, a native of Port Dalhousie (that’s the best part of St. Catharines) returned to Niagara to play in front of over 50 friends and family as part of the “Malletta” section. While he says the OHL is “a faster game…more competitive…a lot of fun.” Malletta has been afforded lots of ice time for a rookie which means lots of learning. The Jack Campbell trade was high profile but Malletta believes “other than Jack (the Spitfires) still has the same team and will battle hard and will still have a chance to win.” Windsor’s week-end sojourn in Niagara meant Malletta got to sleep in his own bed and enjoy his mother’s home cooking for one night.

Bones, the official Niagara Ice Dog mascot, was out on the town Friday evening and discovered the Spitfire team. He then pretended the bus was a large Ice Dog fire hydrant and created an entertaining video for the Ice Dog fans between plays Saturday night.

Comments :

Anonymous said...

That is a good article, lots of informative stuff. If Kuhnhackl got 20, I think Rupert deserves more, those kind of attacks are TOTALLY uncalled for. I will reserve my comments on the Kuhnhackl hit. I couldn't get the "BONES" video to open.....looks like it was posted on Facebook and being a friend of Bones is required.......Please fix that, I would like to see it.

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