This week Niagara Ice Dog action moved from the ice surface to Council Chambers in St. Catharines City Hall. On December 5th the St. Catharines city counsel voted 9-3 in favour of building a new spectator facility……a new home for the Ice Dogs!
While the action in the chamber may have been a much slower pace than a typical hockey game, the final vote resulted in cheers, high fives and hugs for Ice Dog owners Bill and Denise Burke.
For months the “Let’s Build It” campaign has been heating up to lobby city counsellors to go forward with the building of a new spectator facility for the city of St. Catharines. The Jack Gatecliff Arena, home to the Niagara Ice Dogs was built in 1938 and is the oldest and by far most dilapidated in the OHL.
Leading up to the much anticipated vote Ice Dog owner Bill Burke made it clear it was not feasible for the Dogs to stay in St. Catharines if a new facility was not built. This was not just an idle threat from a disgruntled owner but a fact backed by the Ontario Hockey League.
The most surprising part of the “Let’s Build It” campaign was how the Ice Dog players themselves became involved in the process. While current Ice Dogs will never enjoy the new facilities by the time construction is completed, many players became active in supporting the “Let’s Build It” campaign. Team captain Andrew Agozzino, Niagara-on-the-Lake native Alex Friesen and coach Marty Williamson made video clips to promote the campaign and encourage councillors to support a new arena. The night of the vote city hall was packed with Ice Dog players and team staff.
After the vote was finalized the twitterverse heated up in response to the news a new facility was approved.
WOOOHOOOO, new arena for my IceDogs. I want it named the Ryan Strome Entertainment Center on Mitchell Theoret Avenue
#imahappypandanow – Johnny Super Fan
But like with most good news there is a catch…..the motion to build a new arena came with a friendly amendment to change the name of the team from Niagara to St. Catharines Ice Dogs.
So while the decision of building a new facility has been decided, debate starts about a possible name change. Some people still have not got used to the change from Mississauga to Niagara, will fans, and most importantly, the Burkes, accept a change of Niagara to St. Catharines?
The next chapter of the Ice Dog off ice drama continues…………
- Saturday night’s game against Kingston began with Mayor Brian McMullan and St. Catharines city councilors dropping the puck
- Saturday night’s game against Kingston was the beginning of a seven game stretch missing four players at Team Canada
- Ice Dogs lost 3-2 to Kingston Saturday evening with almost half of their roster filled with Jr. B players to replace regulars hurt or at the Team Canada Camp
- This week Dougie Hamilton signed an Entry Level Contract with the Boston Bruins
- Rookie Broderick Kelly racked up his first (and second) OHL career points this week-end with two assists
- They can't build the new arena soon enough.....during the first period, it took referee Rob Langdon and the two linesmen an extra minute or two to catch a mouse that made its way onto the ice.