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Monday, October 31, 2011


The Ice Dogs completed a successful week gaining 5 out of a possible 6 points.  The week started on Wednesday with a come from behind 6-4 victory of the struggling Erie Otters.  One night later the Ice Dogs bested divisional rival Brampton, a team with a strong road record.  Final score was 4-1 and had it not been for Brampton goalie Keegan Wilson standing on his head the score could have been much worse. The only blemish on the week came via a pesky Sudbury Wolves team.  Despite the Ice Dogs firing 45 shots at Sudbury net minder Johan Mattson, the Wolves hung on for a 2-1 shootout victory, the second time that the Wolves beat the Ice Dogs using the gimmick competition.  

The Ice Dogs prepare for a difficult three in three night stand as they take on Oshawa at home on Thursday and then have a home and home series versus the always difficult Kitchener Rangers.  The Rangers have been dominant versus the Ice Dogs at home, and have never been beaten by the Ice Dogs at the Kitchener Memorial Arena.

Highlights from Thursday's 4-1 victory are here

Ryan Strome was at it again, providing another highlight reel goal.   It was not as jaw dropping as his goal vs Plymouth that went viral last year, or his rookie training display or pizazz, but it should put a smile on the New York Islanders fans, players, coaches and other personnel.  The goal is here

Saturday's shootout loss highlights are to be found here

Quick Thoughts

  • It was an impressive Hallowe'en parade at The Gatorade Garden City Complex on Saturday.  I'm not sure about dressing up your child in a Crown Royal costume, but all in good fun. 
  • Having had to deal with the shootout for the past few years, my opinion has not changed: Don't like it and never will.  How about 5 minutes of 4-4 OT followed by 5 minutes of 3-3 OT.  If nothing is decided, bring back the tie.  After 10 minutes of the extra frame, nothing wrong with sharing the points. 
  • It is a shame that Oshawa and Niagara only play a home and home series during the regular season.   There has always been a buzz in the arena when the Gens come to town.  It started with John Tavares and the play offs the first year and has continued on culminating with last years stirring 5 game play off series.  The only time there was not a buzz in the arena was when the lights literally went out in the arena in March of 2009!
  • Decision time is looming for Marty Williamson and his defence. The Ice Dogs have rolled out 7 D Men the last few games as Brock Beukeboom transitions into the lineup after his return from Injury.  Beukeboom is starting to take a regular shift and the Ice Dogs will likely have to bump someone from the line up. 
  • Hardworking Myles is Doan is down with injury.  He hurt his foot on Saturday, which is a shame because the line of Doan, Joel Wigle and Billy Jenkins had some impressive mojo going. 
  • Movember is upon us again.  After last year's sad and embarrassing display of moustache growing, I will not be participating, but will be happy to support this important cause.  Ed Burkholder is participating.  Al Galloway is undecided as of this writing
We will have two games this week on TV Cogeco and the OHL Action Pack:

Thursday November 3rd Oshawa vs Niagara @ 7pm
Saturday November 5th Kitchener vs Niagara @ 7 pm

Steve Clark- Ice Dogs play by play TV Cogeco/OHL Action Pack

Monday, October 24, 2011


The jocularity was in full effect for the Niagara Ice Dogs after a weekend sleight of games at the Gatorade Garden City Complex.   A full 60 minute 4-1 victory over Ottawa was followed up by a tidy dismantling of the Plymouth Whalers by a 4-0 count, with Mark Visentin notching his 2nd clean sheet of the season.  Post game the music was pumping and the players were in a celebratory mood, and with good reason.

After last weekend's dismal US swing, the Ice Dogs were summoned to the arena on Sunday for a skate, and this was not the Saturday afternoon open skate at the Jack.  Message received the Ice Dogs refocused and look to maintain a level of play consistent with a team that was a pre-season #2 in the CHL.

Away from the scorelines were some positive intangbiles.   Plymouth, particularly in the 3rd period seemed intent to take a few liberties with goalie Mark Visentin.  Nick Malysa was the most obvious offender as he tried to bull rush the puck and Visentin into the net at one point during period #3.  He was asked to atone for his sins via invitation from resident tough guy from the Ice Dogs Mitch Bennett.  To his credit, Malysa answered the call, losing in rather a decided fashion.  While those who are in the anti-fighting brigade, this was likely not their cup of tea, but from a team concept the notion of stepping in and sending the message was one that was well received in the broadcast booth, in the stands and undoubtedly in the dressing room. 

The Ice Dogs are back at it in Erie on Wednesday.  The Otters have struggled mightily out of the gate this year but this trip has always been a struggle for the Ice Dogs for some reason.  Victories at the Tullio Centre have been few and far between.  It will be interesting to see if former Otter Chris Festerini gets the nod against the Otters or whether or not Marty Williamson will stick with Visentin.  The Ice Dogs have two key home divisional match ups this week as Brampton and Sudbury visit the Gatorade Garden City Complex on Thursday and Saturday respectively.  The betting here is that Festerini gets the call Wednesday while Visentin gets the home divisional match ups.

Highlights from the Plymouth game are here .  Footage is courtesy of TV Cogeco, editing is by Darren Sawyer and the call is provided by yours truly on play by play and the ubiquitous Ed Burkholder on colour.

1. We had a spirited, all be it, short debate on the Bob Nicholson proposal to raise the draft age by one year to 19.  The idea has its merits developmentally speaking, and that idea was promoted by Ed.  Al Galloway and I seemed to support the notion that there may be legal challenges and this idea would likely have to be collectively bargained.  In the long run, this is an idea worth looking at, but change is not imminent.

2. The team in the most disarray right now is Kingston.  Out of the game with one win in 11 tries, the heat is on in one of the OHL's most proud cities.  Ryan Spooner has been traded about 10x already this year it seems.  Igor Bobkov has struggled in the nets and the heat is on Doug Gilmour. 

3. The Barrie Colts get an immediate boost with the repatriation of Mark Scheifle from Winnipeg.  While Scheifle would be an enticing trade chip at some point in the season, the thinking is that he will in Barrie whole year with ex-Jet Dale Hawerchuk at the helm of the Colts, and if you can't learn from Howerchuck, you can't learn from anyone.  Plus the Colts are holding their own so far in the season and are a marked improvement over last years moribound squad.

We have two games on TVCogeco and the OHL Action Pack.  Ed, Al and I will have the call of the following:

Brampton vs Niagara 7pm
Sudbury vs Niagara 7 pm

Steve Clark
TV Cogeco/OHL Action pack Niagara Ice Dogs Play by Play

Friday, October 21, 2011


The Ice Dogs clamped down on defense and Mark Visentin won a goaltending duel with Peter Mrazek in a 4-1 Ice Dogs victory.  The Dogs broke off a mini two game losing streak and never trailed in this one.  Goals were scored by Joel Wigle, Freddie Hamilton, Mitchell Theoret and Jesse Graham.  Ryan Van Stralen had the lone marker for Ottawa.  

Enjoy the highlights with myself and Ed Burkholder on the call.  Footage is courtesy of TV Cogeco and the editing is done by producer Darren Sawyer:

Ottawa 1 Niagara 4 October 20th

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ice Dog Highlights from October 13th vs Belleville

An added feature to the blog will be the addition of game highlights for the Niagara Ice Dogs, the team I call play by play for on the OHL Action Pack and TVCogeco.  All footage is courtesy of TV Cogeco and is produced and edited by Darren Sawyer, our fine Mobile Producer.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The headline in the Toronto Sun of "It's Been a Dog's Breakfast for the Niagara was not nice.  The fan forum have been even less kind with a thread entitled "This is Embarassing".  Niagara was a pre-season CHL #2 and expected to be a Memorial Cup contender in 2011 but they have stumbled out of the gate at 2-4-0-1 and collectively they have been pretty abysmal defensively, giving up 38 goals in 7 games, a far cry from the staunch defense that was ranked 2nd best in the league last year. 

Seven games out of a 68 game schedule is a small sample size and no reason to push any sort of panic button.  A little Rock like eye brow-raising concern though for the team's early fortunes are legitimate.  They already 9 points in arrears of the Mississauga Majors and just endured an early weekend that featured a decisive 7-3 loss to London, a 5-4 SO loss to Sudbury and an ugly 8-6 loss to Barrie.  So far in the early going the Ice Dogs have given up a seven spot on two occasions, and a six spot to go along with the eight goals the Colts hung on them.  Mark Visentin has been injured and the combination of Jaroslav Pavelka and Mike Gallardi have been severely overmatched,  a point that was re-enforced during the 7-3 loss to London in which the combination of Gallardi and Pavelka gave up three goals on three shots. 

  To hang this all on the defense and goaltending would be unfair.  Hockey is after all a team game and my broadcast partner Ed Burkholder's favourite mantra is "If you don't have the puck, make sure that you have a man" .  Offensively the Ice Dogs are putting up curious numbers.  Andrew Aggozino has put up a solid 9 points in 7 games, but on the flip side is -9.  Freddie Hamilton's outstanding offensive numbers (14 points in 7 games) have been offset by a sad  -9. Steven Shipley is averaging a point a game in 7, but has a -6, while David Pacan is blazing a trail with 8 goals in 7 games, but then a dose of cold water is thrown on those numbers with a -2.  Jesse Graham was the plus minus leader for rookies last year, but has started off the year -7.   There are other examples, but the point is made. 

Are there moves to be made?  Possibly.  The Ice Dogs desperately need some goaltending support, as they are very likely to lose Visentin for most of December due to world junior commitments.   Dougie Hamilton, Freddie Hamilton and Ryan Strome could also be potentially on that list, and could further sap the depth of the Ice Dogs during a key portion of their schedule. 

Niagara fans are anxious for a winner.  They got a taste of success last year when the Ice Dogs got to the third round of the playoffs, and it was all supposed to come together this year, a year in which there is also expected to be a strong push of a new arena.  On ice success will keep the antiquated Gatorade Garden City Complex full and happy.   A Dog's breakfast?  Not quite, but enough questions to raise a curious eyebrow or two. 

- The numbers caught up with affable OA Johnson Andrews who was let go when Alex Friesen returned from AHL camp.  Andrews is ripping up the Jr B with the St Catharines Falcons, and has lots to offer an OHL team.

-Ryan Strome remains with the New York Islanders, but has been a healthy scratch for the first couple of games.  The betting is that he will return when the Isles get a couple of bodies off of IR.  One of those injured for the Isles is Trevor Gillies, and why he still has a job in this league is beyond my reasoning.

- A new and very welcome feature on the OHL website is the breakdown of suspensions on video.  Taking a page from the NHL the OHL has done a very nice job of highlighting the transgression via several different angles and then offering up their reasoning for the suspension.  Each video is only about 25 seconds long and gets right to the point.  You may not agree with the decisions, but the method of disseminating the information is to be lauded.

TV Cogeco returns after its one game Election Night Hiatus with the Belleville Bulls in town to face the Ice Dogs.  Game time is 7:00pm on TV Cogeco in Niagara and on the OHL Action Pack.  Ed, Al and I have the call.

Steve Clark

Steve is in his 5th year as the television play by play voice of the Niagara Ice Dogs, and 6th year overall with the OHL.