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January 14th - Niagara IceDogs vs. Barrie Colts

by Brandon Sudeyko

After their game Thursday night in Niagara, I figured this rematch would not have been as one sided as the score suggested. But it was in fact that way. The IceDogs were finishing up their three in three, while the Barrie Colts were rested from not playing Friday. What I saw in the first 38 seconds was Niagara setting the tone for the remaining 59 minutes and change of the game. On the first shot of the game NIA Alex Friesen was able to put the IceDogs up 1-0. Friesen scored off of a deflection from Alex Lepokowski which would be a trend in the game to come. The first period was all Niagara. They used their speed, worked the puck down low, the defence had active sticks which lead to many shot blocks and Barrie could not get to the IceDogs net. Barrie came out flat, stayed flat for the first period and despite tying the game up at 1 with 14 seconds left in the first period. The shot clock told the entire story of the first period. 17-4 in favour of the Niagara IceDogs. The only momentum that the Colts could have mustered up in the first 20 minutes would have been a fight between BAR Norm Ezekiel and NIA Adam Desautels. The two dropped the gloves off a faceoff, waited about 3 seconds before skating towards each other and the linesman stepped in right away. Putting the kibosh on any type of momentum changer. After 20 minutes of play, game tied at 1 with Niagara owning the shot clock.

The start of the second period you thought, ‘would the Barrie Colts show up or is this going to be a complete domination by the Niagara IceDogs?’ The Niagara IceDogs came out flying like they did in the first period. Controlling the puck down low. Stopping the Colts at the blueline as they tried to break the zone. Continued to block a lot of Barrie shots, kept the Colts to the outside and used the boards and wide passes to stretch out the Colts so they can get deep into the Barrie zone. Despite the Colts best efforts, they could not stay out of the box which resulted in the second goal of the game. This would be the only goal you can argue that Barrie goaltender Alex ‘The Future’ Fotinos, could have had. Niagara on the Power Play, cycling the puck like they always do. The same set up every time that no one can seem to defend against. The PP master Ryan Strome does a great job of getting the puck to the top of the left circle on the tape of Tom Khunhackl, who finds Dougie Hamilton creeping in to the right circle around the faceoff dot where Dougie blasts it over the glove of Fotinos to make it a 2-1 Niagara lead. Again, this would be the only goal you could say Fotinos should have had on the night. Then again a Dougie Hamilton slapshot from 20 feet out, while moving left to right is never easy. Just over two minutes the Niagara IceDogs extend their lead. Remember the continuation of the night was the IceDogs dominating down low and pinning the Colts on defence. Niagara is able to cycle the puck back up to the Myles Doan where he fires a shot off the skate of Alex Lepkowski, off the inner pad of Fotinos and in the back of the net. What could go bad for the Colts did go bad. Of note for Barrie is Captain Colin Behenna drawing two penalties in the second period both hooking calls. The second period ended with Niagara up 3-1, winning the shot clock battle with 8-7 in the 2nd, 25-11 for 40 minutes of play.

The third period saw more of the same dominance by the Niagara IceDogs. At times, it looked like they took their foot off the pedal as they sensed that Barrie was not going to cause a lot of pressure for NIA goalie Mark Visentin. The lone goal in the third happened at the 10 minute mark when a pass from Chris Buonomo was intercepted by Tom Khunhackl which lead to a breakaway goal, another goal that Fotinos had no business saving unless luck was on his side. This time it was not. The Colts almost generate something with 5 minutes left in the game as a weird dump in clings off the glass and in the back of the Niagara net. However, Mark Visentin knocks the net off the moorings going to play the puck off the boards. The refs waive off the goal and after review, and the replay showing the puck was off the moorings, the ‘no goal’ call stood and no ‘delay of game’ penalty was assessed. It was that sort of night for the Barrie Colts as they suffered their 2nd loss of the weekend to the Niagara IceDogs.
IceDogs won 4-1 and also dominated the shot clock, 33-21.

Game Notes:

• The stats do not show how good Alex Fotinos was in this game. Many around me continually stated, without Alex in net, the game could have been 6 or 7-1 for Niagara.

• The two newest Niagara IceDogs, Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie, had opposite nights. Jamie was present every time on the ice, whether it was his stick, throwing his body around, or shot blocking. Brett Ritchie was for most part invisible and did not generate much offensively.

• BAR defenceman Chris Buonomo played with 4 different defenceman, never played with Aaron Ekblad.

• NIA Mark Visentin didn’t see much work, but continued to look very calm in net, squaring himself and building off the momentum of the Bronze medal victory back from the WJHC

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