By Mike Keenan
The Niagara IceDogs, playing out of the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines were mired in a tie with the Barrie Colts for 7th place in the OHL Eastern Conference, having lost more games (19) than they have won (15). The Ottawa 67’s are firmly in first place with 31 wins. Nonetheless, this weekend, the IceDogs played back-to-back- games in near sell-outs with few empty seats, which bodes well financially for the team.
My first game of the season, I hoped to watch captain Akil Thomas in action after his Paul Henderson-like huge goal with 3:58 left in regulation to cap a furious third-period rally to beat Russia 4-3 and secure our 18th gold medal at the world junior hockey championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Alas, he was traded by the Niagara IceDogs to the Peterborough Petes in exchange for 17-year-old forward Cameron Butler and four draft picks. The IceDogs also dealt high-scorer Phil Tomasino to Oshawa, which brings the team’s total trading haul to the aforementioned Butler, defenceman David Guicciardi and 13 draft picks. Obviously, IceDogs GM Joey Burke is in rebuild mode.
On a cold Friday night, I watched Barrie and Niagara battle it out, and the IceDogs prevailed in a shoot-out 4-3, goalie Christian Sbaraglia stopping all three shots and Ivan Lodnia beating the Barrie goaltender on the blocker side for the winner.
The Barrie Colts struck first to take the lead in the opening minute of the game although the first period featured sloppy play by both sides. The IceDogs enjoyed a man advantage for five minutes, not scoring and going offside three times on the power play. The second period was all IceDogs, with two goals scored to take the lead. Ivan Lodnia scored the game tying goal off a feed from fellow winger Oliver Castleman with Cameron Butler’s first as an IceDog. The Colts chalked up two power play goals in the third period to regain the lead 3-2. In the dying minutes, Castleman made the home crowd happy as he tied it up on the IceDogs own power play goal, leading to Lodnia’s heroics.
There were many children in attendance at this game, evidence that the team provides solid family entertainment. Hanging in the rafters were St. Catharines Teepee (1947 to 1962) memorabilia including a tribute to Stan Mikita who went on to become a great star with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Attending an IceDogs game in St. Catharines is a great activity for tourists and locals alike!
You can check out the IceDogs schedule and more at their informative website: https://niagaraicedogs.net/
If you have suggestions or comments concerning blog topics to help celebrate St. Catharines, contact me at ‒ email@example.com