Entries in Niagara IceDogs (13)


London Knights v Niagara IceDogs - November 28th

by Dwayne Williams (@Notsoheavyd)

Knight Knight

The Western Conference’s #4 London Knights came into St. Catharines with a bolstered lineup and an impressive 9 game winning streak   Without putting the necessary grit to their game, they were outperformed by the young Dogs squad on this night by a score of 4-1.

Niagara came out flying in the first and sent the Knights to the first intermission with a scoreless match and a 17-4 shots on goal differential.  Niagara had the lions share of the scoring chances but couldn’t put any past the Knights’ tender Stolarz.

In the second frame, the Icedog’s top line worked the puck around the offensive zone and were able to set up DiFruscia for his 14th goal of the season.  Ming added to the Dogs’ lead with some gritty work for his 11th marker this year.  Shortly after that Zadorov was set up from his defensive partner when he fired a slick rising wrist shot to beat goaltender Brent Moran.  The ‘dagger’ on this night happened as the period was winding down.  Niagara was on the powerplay when newly acquired Billy Jenkins walked out from behind the net and spun around to put the puck on net.  Stolarz made the original save, but the puck squirted into the air and fell behind him to give Niagara a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame.

The third period was chippier – 8 penalties were called – with both squads having good chances on their powerplays, but with nothing to show for their work.  The lone goal of the period happened when the Knights were being pressured on a breakout from their defensive end.  There was a miscue at their blueline that Hayden was able to keep in the zone – pushed along to Verhaege and then onto to Perlini for his fifteenth goal of the campaign.

Assistant Coach Joey Burke said ‘We regard them as the top team in the league – well respected franchise. For our guys to go to toe to toe with this big team with a handful of first round nhl draft picks. … it certainly looks great for our future.‘  The Dogs are on the road for games in Sudbury and then Sault Ste Marie – often a challenging trip in the best of weather.  Burke said that ‘the road trip just got a little bit shorter.‘

Jordan Maletta was in tough against Tierney and Horvat in the faceoff circle tonight.  He held his own (50%) and played very responsible defensively.   He was thrilled with the team effort tonight ‘Last few games we’ve given up leads in the third – so we were really happy to finish this one off. This win give us lots of confidence going in to the road trip. ‘

With the win tonight and Belleville’s loss, the Dogs creep up to the #9 spot in the conference with a slim 2 point margin.

My three stars -

#3 Billy Jenkins – solid offensive play and good on ice vision.

#2 Graham Knott – won 4/5 faceoffs in the pivotal second period

#1 Brent Moran – fabulous bounce back game saving 27/28 shots


OHL: Niagara at Guelph - October 18th

by Dwayne Williams (@Notsoheavyd)

The young scrappy Icedogs ventured into the comfortable confines of the Sleeman Centre for a challenging game vs. the nationally ranked and much older Storm squad.  Going into this game Guelph had an exceptional record of 4 wins and zero loses at home this season. The Dogs had a dismal record of 1-4-0-0 on the road – on paper it should have been no contest. Early on it appeared to be a mismatch.

  The first period the home side would pepper veteran goalie Chris Festerani with plenty of shots from all angles with lots of traffic in front to distract and deflect rubber in his direction. The Dogs seemed to be a step behind and would be fortunate to come out of the period only a few goals down.  Niagara pushed back in the middle of the frame with some timely rushes and puck possession in the offensive zone.  Perlini and Maletta would ‘light the lamp’ to give the Visitors and 2-1 lead after one period. The Dogs had ‘weathered the Storm’.

  The next frame would see a tighter checking affair with good chances at both ends of the rink.  Both teams would have quality scoring chances but only Bertuzzi would score in the period (on the powerplay).  The Icedogs were very frustrated with having the first four penalties of the game called against them – there were more than a few infractions against the home side in the second period including too many men on the ice at 11:30, and Maletta being hauled down on a drive to the net at 9:20. Harpur would eventually be called for a penalty while Guelph was on a powerplay. He hauled down an Icedog who had chipped the puck out of the zone for a potential breakaway scoring chance.

   Niagara’s DiFruscia would strike first in the third period on a sweet powerplay setup by Perlini and Mercer to give the visitors a slim 3-2 lead.  Guelph would climb back in to the game quickly on a crafty goal by Fabbri a mere 20 seconds later.  Soon after, the Dogs’ Russian defender – Mikulovich would take a run at Fabbri at the defensive blue line causing a brief melee to ensue.  Fabbri would stay on the ice for a brief moment clutching his knee – but would skate to his bench and played the rest of the game without any problem.  The ensuing Guelph powerplay set up well and controlled the puck to get a solid shot to the net from Finn which would bounce around a little before McGinn would push the puck in for Guelph’s 4-3 lead.

  The Dogs would press hard late in the period – the Storm desperately defended and would be penalized at 17:54 on a tripping call.  The Dogs would call a timeout to talk about their plans.  When the puck went into the offensive zone, Festarini dashed to the bench for an extra attacker and would produce 6 skaters vs 4 skaters on a powerplay.  After a few timely saves by the Storm’s recently acquired goaltender Nichols (a St. Catharines product), the home side had an opportunity to clear the puck on the side boards.  Desperation was setting in – so overager Ming would tackle the Guelph defender to prevent the clearing attempt.  The referees arms stayed down – play ensued and the Dogs would put the puck to the net where DiFruscia would score with only 10.7 seconds left in the game.  The home side was not impressed and made sure that the referees knew how they felt – the fans even threw some of their refuse onto the ice surface. 

  At the end of the play Guelph’s Horvat expressed his displeasure to the referees and would be tagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty – this would give the Dogs a powerplay to finish the game and to start the overtime frame. The #1 powerplay unit for the Dogs were played for the entire time hoping to get the go ahead goal.  Nichols stood his ground and prevented any pucks from getting past him. 

  In the shootout, Nichols would give up a goal to Verhaeghe on a nice deke – McGinn would score on Festarini after he raced in and put shot up over his blocker. Perlini just missed on his reach around deke which would send things into an extra round.  Guelph’s Fabbri would race in to the net and put a partial deke in on Festarini’s blocker side.  Niagara’s Ming would challenge Nichols but would hit the post on his attempt – resulting in Guelph acquiring the extra point and a final 5-4 win.


It may only be one point for the Dogs, but a character comeback and a team effort to tie a nationally ranked team on the road is worth so much more.  Coach Williamson was more than pleased with the overall result – some flashes of inconsistency in the game, but fewer lapses as the season progresses and this team matures.


Graham Knott had a good game – he challenged the puck well on the forecheck, was in the play many times and provided adequate defensive coverage.  Early in the third period, he did get beat to the net and took a crosschecking penalty to prevent his player from an easy scoring chance. Luke Mercer was crafty throughout with intelligent offensive support and adequate defensive coverage. He had a few thunderous hits – including one attempt in the third period where he would crash heavily into the side boards. He would finish the game with 2 assists and an even +/- rating.  The tandem of Perlini and Verhaege continue to rip apart opposition defenders with their strong puck possession and delft chemistry producing many scoring chances. On this night Perlini would tally 1 goal and an assist.  Carter was  limited to only one assist. These two players now sit at #2 and #3 in overall scoring in the league – 1 point behind Connor Brown of the Erie Otters.  Newcomer Eric Ming was on the top line where he would provide support in knocking the opposition off the puck as well as providing traffic at the net.  He would finish with 2 assists.  DiFruscia erupted on the scoreboard with 2 goals and an assist.  Anthony’s goal was #7 on the season which is exactly half of his goal total from last season.  Jordan Maletta would also notch a goal to give hope for secondary scoring on this team.  


Blake Siebenaler had a forgettable game – he gave up the puck a few times and even had a spill in his own end after tripping on a rut. He was never able to get any open ice to show his sweet skating strides. 

D-Man Vince Dunn had a few solid offensive rushes, but also a few defensive lapses leading to Guelph goals. Mack Lemmon delivered his share of hits and managed to stay out of the penalty box in this game.


Next up are the Belleville Bulls at Niagara on Saturday night.  Brent Moran will get the start for the Icedogs. Last night, the Bulls came close to the improved Otters squad in Erie losing by a score of 4-3.  Each team was only tagged with 3 penalties against.  The Bulls managed to score 3 goals on a paltry 10 shots spread over the last 2 frames. Early on in the season, the Dogs are sandwiched in the middle of the conference with 11 points. The Bulls are in last place with 6 points and only 2 wins in their 11 games. 


Niagara IceDogs v Mississuaga Steelheads - Nov 30th

by Brandon Sudeyko (@intheoradio)

The Niagara IceDogs have become a powerhouse under Marty Williamson as they head into the Hershey Centre and take on a Mississauga Steelheads team that has survived and remain highly competitive when the majority of people said they would fall down the standings. Entering the game the IceDogs are one point ahead of the Steelheads in the Central division standings and the two teams sit 3rd and 4th in the conference.

Niagara quickly got on the offensive, peppering shots on Spencer Martin and scoring early. A point shot by Jesse Graham gets tipped and slows down allowing Carter Verharghe to take the puck and score to make it 1 nothing, 70 seconds into the game. Niagara would continue to pin the Steelheads in their zone and make it impossible for puck possession or even a chance for Mississauga to clear the puck. Half way through the first period Mitchell Theoret would make it a 2-0 lead on a pass from Ryan Strome. A minute later Brett Ritchie would bank a puck in off of Martin to increase the lead to 3. Niagara would continue pressing and before the period ended Steven Shipley would make it 4-0.

In the second, Niagara would continue to pressure but not as effective as they were in the 1st period. After Strome got called for a holding penalty, the Steelheads power play struck as Dylan Smoskowitz scored his 19th of the season and get Mississauga on the board. The sloppy second period play would continue and the Steelheads would continue to struggle with puck possession. At the end of the second Niagara put 43 shots on Martin while Brent Moran only faced 15 shots.

The third would be where the Steelheads would come alive, firing 16 shots on net. Trevor Carrick would cut the Niagara lead in half as a deflection would beat the Niagara net minder. Six minutes later Kristoff Kontos would shoot on net and another deflection would find the back of the net., making it a 1 goal game. Niagara would strike again on the power play as Theoret would score his second of the game and make it 5-3. Not even 30 seconds later, Smoskowtiz would get his second of the game and make it a one goal game yet again. The IceDogs would hold off and add an empty net goal to make it a 6-4 final. Spencer Martin would make 50 saves in the loss.


Niagara IceDogs

Anthony DiFruscia

The first year forward is a winger is strong on the boards and speedy on the wing. He doesn’t freely cross into the middle of the ice, he prefers to play off the boards but will go into crash the net when the puck is down low. Good speed and strength and knows how to use his outside speed to gain position.


Brent Moran

A goalie who plays as big as his size. Rarely backs into his crease as he plays a the top of the crease. Moran is always up right and as square to the shooter as possible. He shows very little panic and shows mental toughness after ‘garbage’ goals that frustrate goaltenders. Can really hold his posts and controls his rebounds and pads down low. Moving side to side he may need some more strength as he does open up his five hole briefly that skilled forwards can capitalize on.


Mississauga Steelheads

Thomas Welsh

Really keeps his position in tact, seldom chasing the puck, good lateral mobility and an active stick. Likes to be aggressive and physical. Can really throw a big hit in open ice and along the boards. Good at trapping the opposition or removing them from the puck. His general footspeed is lacking but compensates with his defensive awareness and not playing outside his ‘limitations’.


Kingston Frontenacs Week in Review

by John Duncan (@FrontsFocus)

The Kingston Frontenacs remained the only undefeated team in the OHL after two home ice victories, over the Erie Otters, 6-5, in overtime on Friday night, and the previously undefeated Niagara Ice Dogs, 4-3, on Sunday afternoon.

The Otters were coming off a 5-1 victory over the Peterborough Petes on Thursday night. Import goalie, Oscar Dansk, stopped 47 of 48 shots and all of the goal scorers, for Erie, were born in 1995, so the young guns lead the way.

Kingston hadn’t played since their Opening Night victory over the Barrie Colts, last Friday night, by the score of 3-1.

Kingston came out flying, and drew an early penalty. Nathan Cull then finished off a pretty 3 way passing play at 4:18 of the first. Rookies, Henri Ikonen, and Sam Bennett drew assists. The Fronts outshot the Otters 11-1 in the first 11 minutes of the game. Erie got a break on a ricochet shot from the point at 9:53 of the first to tie it up atone. Just prior to the end of the first period, Billy Jenkins restored Kingston’s one goal lead, on a pass from linemate Ryan Kujawinski. Marc Beckstead got the second assist. Kingston outshot Erie 15-9 in the first.

“Run & gun hockey” returned in the second period, as the young Otters, and Frontenacs traded opportunities. Kingston took a 3-1 lead on a shot from the point by the Fronts’ first round Import Pick, big Mikko Vainonen, his first in the OHL. The loan assist went to Kujawinski, his second of three assists on the night.

Momentum in the game shifted dramatically, when the Fronts took 3 consecutive penalties. The Otters capitalized on all 3, to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Connor Crisp, overager, J.P. Labardo, and Luke Cairns tallied for the visitors.

Connor Brown scored early in the third period on a pretty redirection of a point shot, to the right of goaltender Mike Morrison. This happened during a stretch where the Fronts got running around in their own zone, and the Otters controlled the puck for a lengthy period of time. The Otters had a two goal lead.

Coach Gill chose to replace Morrison with rookie, Colin Furlong, right after this goal. He was immediately tested on a breakaway by Nick Betz, and made a great glove stop. This seemed to spark the Fronts’ comeback. Cue Billy Jenkins.

Jenkins developed immediate “chemistry” with line mate Ryan Kujawinski when both arrived in trades at the trade deadline in January. This has continued, in a big way, this season. Jenkins scored off an odd man rush at 9:43 of the 3rd to cut Erie’s lead to 4-3. Less than 3 minutes later, Jenkins finished off his first OHL hat trick, as he was left open in the slot, and was fed a beautiful pass by Warren Steele (his 3rd assist of the night). This tied the game at 5, and sent it to overtime.

33 seconds into the extra frame, Darcy Greenaway, last year’s leading scorer, poked a puck under Devin Williams in the Erie net. The Fronts spilled onto the ice to mob Greenaway, as they had won in overtime!

Mike Morrison, after being pulled on Friday night, came up huge in Sunday afternoon’s game. He stopped 42 of 46 shots en route to a victory, over the heavily favoured Niagara Ice Dogs. The Hamilton native frustrated the Dogs time and again with great pad saves. He seemed to always be in great position to make saves.

Despite being outshot 15-8 in the 1st period, it was the Fronts who came out with a 2-0 lead. Ryan Kujawinski continued his inspired play with a breakaway goal on Niagara’s goalie, Festarini. Kujawinski was sprung by an excellent pass by line mate, Billy Jenkins. Mike Moffat picked up one of his 3 assists on the play. Friday night’s overtime hero, Darcy Greenaway banged in a rebound at close range at 16:11 of the 1stto give the home team a two goal lead.

Captain Cody Alcock gave the home team a 3-0 lead at 3:30 of the 2nd, as he broke down the left side of the ice and beat Festarini with a wrist shot. Steven Shipley knocked in a rebound past goaltender Morrison to get Niagara on the board at 13:14. Kujawinski restored Kingston’s three goal lead on the power play at 17:52 from Roland McKeown (his first OHL point) and Mikko Vainonen. As a result of some sloppy defensive zone coverage, Niagara’s Ryan Strome scored are bound goal at 19:55 of the 2nd. The second period ended 4-2 Kingston.

Dougie Hamilton set up Strome alone in the slot at 3:09 of the 3rd. Niagara was within 1. Just 30 seconds later, Kingston’s captain, Cody Alcock, spotted a wide-open Spencer Watson in the slot. Watson ripped the shot past Brent Moran, who had replaced Festarini in the Dogs’ goal to start the 3rd. Watson had his first OHL goal. Dougie Hamilton made it interesting, as he beat goaltender Morrison on his second attempt, just 5seconds past the mid-way mark in the final period, an unassisted goal. Morrison foiled the Niagara attack the rest of the way to preserve the 5-4 victory.

The 3-0 start is Kingston’s fastest since they started the1997-98 season with four straight wins. That team, lead by Colin Chaulk, and Robert Mailloux, was the last Frontenac team to advance to the 2nd Round of the playoffs. They finished the year with 35 regular season wins, good enough for third in the East, behind Ottawa, and Belleville. They went on to beat Oshawa in 7 games, with 3 of those games decided in overtime, and were then matched up against London, who beat them 4 games to 1.

What’s very impressive about the start to this season is the contribution from everyone. Ryan Kujawinski was named the OHL’s player of the week, after recording 2 goals and 3assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-2. Billy Jenkins is playing exceptionally well with 3 goals and 1 assist in the three games. Defensemen Michael Moffat and Warren Steele have been great on the back end. The players are all buying into coach Gill’s system of relentless puck pressure in the offensive zone. When players don’t have a play to the net, they are dumping it in, and with their speed, winning many of the puck battles along the boards. Consistency is what the coaching staff is preaching to the players now, and with a very young team, this will be the most difficult thing to maintain.

The Fronts play their first road games of the season this week, in Brampton on Thursday night, and in Oshawa on Friday night. Kingston will play host to the Sudbury Wolves on a rare Saturday night contest at K-Rock Centre in Kingston, October 6th.

The only disappointment for the Fronts so far has been the fact that the fans have taken a “wait and see” approach to this year’s team. Just over 2,000 was the announced crowd at the game on Sunday afternoon, and those that were there knew fewer were there. Perhaps those who purchased season tickets can give them away, if they aren’t able to attend, so that more of the city can watch this great young team develop!



Ottawa 67's vs Niagara IceDogs - Game 2 Review

by Susan Tromanhauser (@TromanSue)

The Ottawa 67s have evened up the series by soundly defeating the Niagara Ice Dogs 7-4.


Niagara coach Marty Williamson knew immediately what looked outwardly as a good start for the Ice Dogs was nothing but. Within the first few minutes the Ice Dogs outshot the visiting 67s 9-0. “We were way too pretty, over passing pucks but we weren’t fundamentally sound.” And he was right because at the 10:00 mark of the first period the onslaught began.


Nicholas Foglia opened up the scoring for Ottawa. This was his second goal of the series as Foglia scored the only Ottawa goal in the opening game of the conference finals on Friday evening. Then began a flurry of scoring with goals by Cody Ceci, Dalton Smith, Shane Prince making it 4-0. Alex Friesen finally got a shot past Ottawa goal tender Petr Mrazek.


The second period opened with a Brett Ritchie power play goal for the Ice Dogs and for a brief moment a Dougie Hamilton goal from the point brought the Ice Dogs within one goal. However the momentum was quickly lost as Mike Cazzola scored a fifth goal for Ottawa a minute later.


A sixth Ottawa goal from Sean Monahan finally chased Niagara goalie Mark Visentin from the net. He has had an outstanding season since returning from the World Juniors in January but Sunday was definitely not his night. Chris Festarini took his place in net and did an admirable job keeping the Ottawa blitz of goals down to just one more from Jake Cardwell.


David Pacan scored a goal for the Ice Dogs in the dying seconds of the game. However there was no celebration of the goal as the Dogs knew the game was ending with a 7-4 loss.


Following the game both teams got on their respective buses and headed north to prepare for game three of the Eastern Conference finals in Ottawa. When asked if Visentin will be back in the net for game three tomorrow night, Williamson’s quick reply was “Absolutely!”


Dog Bytes:

  • Six is the most goals Mark Visentin has given up all season.
  • The Ice Dogs out shot Ottawa 48-35
  • Ottawa went 3-for-5 on the power play with one short-handed goal
  • Niagara’s power play was 2-for-6
  • Ottawa captain Marc Zanetti has been suspended indefinitely until a decision is made on discipline following a kick to the head of Niagara’s Tom Kuhnhackl during Friday’s series opening game.
  • It was another sell out at “the Jack” with 3145 in attendance
  • The 50-50 draw was once again over $3000.00