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