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Monday, December 19, 2011

Ice Dogs win 2 Straight Heading Into Christmas Break

The Ice Dogs reaped the benefits of stability on the weekend winning two in a row at home from the Erie Otters and the Sudbury Wolves.  Armed with the knowledge that they knew that they would be without four key Team Canada bound contributors for the foreseeable future, the team put together two solid games from start to finish.  On Thursday back up 'tender Chris Festarini posted his first career shutout as the Ice Dogs exploded for six second period goals on route to a 7-0 thumping of the hapless Erie Otters.   Andrew Aggozino would pace the offence with five points, including 2 goals while young Broderick Kelly scored his first career OHL goal.  Other marksmen on the night were David Pacan with two, Steven Shipley and Mitchell Theoret.   On Saturday the Ice Dogs spotted the red hot Wolves a 1-0 lead before utilizing the power play, scoring all three  with the man advantage to best Sudbury 3-1.  The Wolves came into the game sporting a tidy 8-2 mark in their past ten so a victory over their Central Division foes was no small feat.   Brock Beukeboom counted his first career goal for the Ice Dogs while Alex Friesen and Steven Shipley also scored for Niagara.  The team is now off until December 28th which is when they will make their annual post-Christmas pilgrimage to Owen Sound.  Next home game is the New Years Eve contest vs Guelph with a special start time of 6:00pm.  

Steve Clark 




Monday, December 12, 2011


The first game involving a depleted Niagara Ice Dogs performed on Saturday night, dropping a close 3-2 decision to Kingston.  This was a strange one in that Kingston scored, only to have the Ice Dogs respond within 20 seconds both times.  The first time saw Steven Shipley respond to Cody Alcock's goal within 9 seconds.  The second time Niagara's Luke Mercer answered Kyler Nixon's goal within 18 seconds.  Alex Gudbransen would provide the margin of victory early in the 3rd period, marking the 1st time that Kingston had won a game when tied up after two periods. 

The Ice Dogs close out their pre-Christmas schedule with home games vs Erie and Sudbury on Thursday and Saturday respectively.   Both games are live on TV Cogeco and the OHL Action Pack starting at 7:00 pm.   As first cuts for the Canadian Junior team will be made on Tuesday, there is a chance that the Ice Dogs could have any combination of Ryan Strome, Dougie Hamilton, Freddie Hamilton and Mark Visentin back in the line up.

Highlights are courtesy of TV Cogeco:

Steve Clark

Friday, December 9, 2011


When St Catharines council approved new spectator facility on Monday one of the small caveats was that there would be an investigation into changing the name from the Niagara Ice Dogs to the St Catharines Ice Dogs.  My initial thought was that it was no big deal, and that people would not stop coming just because the name became localized rather than regional.  Upon reflection, maybe its a bigger deal than I thought.  The Burkes have marketed this team as a regional team from Day 1, holding open practices in areas outside of St Catharines.  The strategy has worked.  A large part of the fan base comes from outside St Catharines.  Maybe the name is a big deal, particularly if your team has been marketed regionally from Day 1.   Now that there is a 4500-5000 seat facility to be built, no marketing stone must be left unturned to fill the building.  With that in mind, the wiser choice would be to keep the Niagara Ice Dogs name.  In the long run St Catharines may not get the name it wants, but it will retain all that outside money coming into the city from paying customers from Niagara Falls, Welland, Grimsby, Port Colborne etc. 

OTHER NAME AND NON NAME CHANGES Changing the first name of a sports franchise likely is more impactful than changing the nickname.  Some name changes have made no difference, others have.  How about those franchises that change cities but don't change the nickname.  Sure seems curious, particularly if the nickname of the team reflects the city or the demographic. Here's a partial list.

New Orleans Jazz to Utah Jazz- unless there is a thriving jazz beat in Utah that I don't know about, this made little sense, but now no one blinks an eye

Mineapolis Lakers to Los Angeles Lakers- Again, more reflective of Minneapolis and the nickname City of Lakes, the move to LA meant no change, and now the Lakers are one of the top selling brands in the NBA.

Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans Hornets- no real demographic change here. I'm guessing both cities have Hornets.  Now, if it were the Charlotte Flairs after legendary Charlotte native Ric Flair- different story Wooooo!

Atlanta Flames to Calgary Flames- Likely an homage to Atlanta being burnt up from Gone With The Wind.  The fire theme made it to Calgary and stuck. 

California Angels to Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- The last one is just plain silly

New Jersey Nets to become the Brooklyn Nets in the next couple of years.  Doesn't matter where you put the franchise the Nets are still sad sack

LA Raiders to Oakland Raiders- With the mystique surrounding the Oakland Raiders of the 70's, they never should have changed this name

Anaheim Mighty Ducks to Anaheim Ducks- The Disney allure gone, and the Flying V a relic of the past, the Mighty was dropped from the name.  The name Ducks does not exactly breed intimidation.

Washington Bullets to Wizards- The only nickname change that the NRA likely petitioned about.  This one was long overdue. 

York Yeoman/Yeowomen to York Lions-  Tradition traded for a silly cartoon lion! 

Queens Golden Gaels to Queens Gaels- Again, tradition went the way of the Dodo bird for a more sleeker name. 

Florida Marlins to Miami Marlins- A new stadium begets a new name.  Uniforms are the real issue here.  They are beyond bad!

Oh there are more, but this was a list off the top of my head.  Even Toronto flirted with using the Jays more than the Blue Jays, and what about the Raptors?  The dinosaur phenom has long passed.   This is a franchise in dire need of a new look.

Maybe we'll save athletes changing names for another time.  So World B. Free, Metta World Peace, Chad Ocho Cinco and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, don't worry your time will come.

Shakespeare asked "What's in a name?"  Well, when its the cornerstone of your core marketing ,a lot!

Steve Clark

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


By a decisive 9-3 vote St Catharines council approved a new entertainment facility on Monday night, marking the biggest date in Ice Dogs history.  The threats of the Ice Dogs leaving town if they were not part of the new facility was not an idle one.  Bill and Denise Burke love their hockey, but first and foremost they are business people and the revenue streams out the Jack Gatcliffe arena were somewhat limited.   A few things come to the forefront now:

1. The proposed completion of the building is to be January of 2014, and hopefully the time lines can be met.   Promotion wise  its in the best interest of the region to have the building open on time.  Hopefully there is a run on shovels at the local Canadian Tire as the catch phrase should change from Let's Build It to Let's Start Building It!

2. There have been a lot of promises that this will be an entertainment facility as opposed to a hockey arena. I'm sure that the marketing group running the facility will do the necessary leg work to make this true.   Mid-level concerts, trade shows, wrestling are all a reality along with the boost from sporting events.   Heck, Neil Diamond is playing Toronto June 26th.  Why not live large and have a Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow and Paul Anka triple bill!! If that were the case my fellow broadcasters Ed Burkholder and Al Galloway will be pre-ordering concert T-Shirts!

3. Along with the Niagara Ice Dogs, the St. Catharines Falcons and Brock Badgers expect to be additional tenants.  Hopefully the complex can be seamlessly adapted into a basketball facility.  The arena could then attract OCAA, OUA and CIS hoop events and maybe even a professional team in the fledgling all-Canadian NBL.

4. There might be a move to change the name from Niagara to St Catharines Ice Dogs.  This would more reflect the revitalization of downtown.  While the Ice Dogs have been marketed as a regional team, it makes sense to localize the name.

Better late than never is the old adage. Here are the highlights from Niagara's 4-3 SO loss to the suddenly viable and resurgent Barrie Colts.  Barrie came back from a 3-1 deficit to nip the Dogs.  After a tough 1st year, Dale Hawerchuk's message seems to be sinking in to the Colts, but did you expect anything else from the Hall of Famer?

Monday, December 5, 2011


The Niagara Ice Dogs reverted back their uneven play with a 1-1-0-1 record this past week.  Thursday featured an easy 7-2 victory over the hapless Erie Otters, losers of 10 in a row coming into the game.  Andrew Aggozino paced the Ice Dogs with a natural hat-trick while Mark Visentin garnered the victory in net.  Highlights are here:

On Saturday the Ice Dogs were visited by an old nemesis: the shootout.  Losers of  both shootouts this year, the misery was extended with a 4-3 loss to Barrie via the gimmicky showdown.  The Ice Dogs held a 3-1 lead on Barrie, but could not hold onto the advantage, giving up two goals in the middle stanza. 

Sunday, the Ice Dogs made their second unsuccessful trip to the Bunker in Brampton.  The last time the Ice Dogs played the Battalion in Brampton the result was an uneven 6-4 loss.  This tilt resulted in a 3-0 shutout, the first time the Dogs had been blanked all year.  The Ice Dogs face Peterborough and Mississauga on the road Thursday and Friday before returning home to face Kingston on Saturday.

1. Monday December 5th will mark the most important day in Niagara Ice Dog franchise history.  Council is set to vote on proposals on a new entertainment facility for St Catharines.  While informal media polls have support running at 70% or above, the real decision lies with the politicians, and there are view points on both sides.  What a crying shame it would be if the politicians did not back this proposal and the Ice Dogs left town.  Owners Bill and Denise Burke, along with the fans have been very very patient with the antiquated Jack Gatecliffe arena up to this point. 

2. Four Ice Dogs head to World Jr Camps on Saturday, and will miss some of the OHL schedule.  There is a good chance that all could crack the squad, so the brass ring will be available for those Dogs left behind to grab. 

3. I'm tiring of people using words like "redemption" for Mark Visentin as he tries out for Team Canada.  Redemption for what?  Visentin is a 1st round NHL draft pick and was the OHL goalie of the year.  I think he's been "redeemed" don't ya think?

1. Had a chance to call my first OUA basketball doubleheader of the year on Friday at McMaster U for Cable 14 sports.  There was a victorious air as the Vanier Cup and some of the Marauder football team were in attendance.  It was great to be back calling basketball and great to see student support at its finest.

2. Must be said.  My Miami Dolphins, author of 4 wins in 5 (only loss was a 1 pointer to Dallas), by all rights could be 8-4.  Three losses were on the last play, or in the last minute (Cleveland, Denver, Dallas) and one was a blown 4th quarter lead vs the Giants.  Only other somewhat decisive losses were to New England, San Diego, the New York Jets and Houston.  

3. I watched the Survivor Series, and man did The Rock look good.  Now whether or not the WWE Wellness Policy applied to the Most Electrifying Man in Entertainment is another thing..

Keep pushing the rock up the hill!

Steve Clark