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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


 tom brady photos11 219x300 Why Im Betting the Pats on Sunday

It's been a while since I've posted some non-OHL thoughts, though one or two might slip in.  After all these thoughts are random!

1. The NHL All-Star Weekend bugs me.  No it's not the corporate schmooze fest.  Hey, those companies help pay the bills and should get a perk or two.  It's not the snore-fest of a game.   Do you really want your elite players to miss time in the season for a game that does not count?   It's not the skills competition, which I actually enjoy.  Although I'd love to see more flow like this:  
Actually it's the media guys who get all breathless and giddy at the venues.  How many times did we hear about Sportsnet's Rideau Canal set location?  How many times did we hear about people skate down the Rideau Canal? Maybe its the fact that my media "perks" include free pizza and water.  Time to move on.

2. You are never going to make the All-Star game a marquee competitive event.  I would, however, tweak the Fantasy Draft, and have captains randomly select sticks and then "trade" to correct any imbalances.  It's TV friendly as the various panels could break down trades like they would on deadline day.  Just a thought.

3. Even at the age of 39, I remain a wrestling fan and had a chance to catch the Royal Rumble on Sunday.  The Rumble will always be near and dear to my heart from the moment I saw Ric Flair go wire to wire in 1992!  Even as I grow older, I'll never stop being a wrestling fan.  It's perfect escapism.

4. With wrestling on my mind, I think it would be perfect for Peyton Manning to wear one of those old horse collar neck braces, storm Madonna's Super Bowl Half Time Show, dramatically rip off the neck brace and start zinging 60 yard bombs to Marvin Harrison.  Take that Jim Irsay!

5. Can never root for the New England Patriots in any, way, shape or form.  Just can't stand golden boy Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck.  Maybe it's my affinity for the mediocre Miami Dolphins...Giants 27 Patriots 23. Book it!

6. Congrats to the Ice Dogs Andrew Agozzino for setting the franchise mark in goals with 149. Agozzino will also play in his 300th OHL game on Friday in London.  Plus, he's going to be one of the hottest, most sought after junior free agents.

7. Congratulations also go  to Mark Visentin, the Ice Dogs goalie who is currently fashioning a 3 shutout streak and has 206:14 of goalless hockey to his credit.  He was just named OHL player of the week.  People will talk about Mark Visentin finding "redemption" after the World Juniors.  You know what?  Visentin was just fine after last years World Jr Final.  He was outstanding down the stretch and in the playoffs last year, and has continued that excellent play this year.  There was no redemption this year for Visentin, just a continuation of his excellence.

8. Brian Burke needs to focus more on his team and less with feuding with the CBC and Don Cherry.  I love Burke and his gruff demeanour and his tendency to be direct and forthright.  However, picking fights with members of the media, in particular Don Cherry speaks more to his ego than it does his commitment to defend his team.

9.  I'm not buying what the Blue Jays are selling at this point.  Yes, Prince Fielder for 9 years is something of a leap of faith.  However, when have a chance to be in on a free agent of this calibre, you have make more than a cursory effort to sign him, if the Blue Jays made any effort at all. Fielder is durable, he's consistent and he's the type of player who will bring fans out of their seat.  I love the new logo the Blue Jays created for this year. It's sharp, and very pleasing to the eye.  I'll buy the merchandise but acquisitions like Darren Oliver, Ben Francisco, Omar Vizquel, Sergio Santos and Jason Fraser (again) won't get me to the ballpark anytime soon.

10.Gary Bettman claimed that there are three potential suckers/suitors in play for the Phoenix Coyotes, a franchise that has yet to draw a dime in its existence.  I feel bad for the fans of Phoenix.  It's tough to sell tickets in a marketplace when your slogan is "Propped Up For Another Year".  That said it might be best to put a bullet in his moribound franchise.  Sad thing is the alternatives are not that great:

a) Seattle:  Old arena, no real hockey history outside of the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds
b) Las Vegas:   Why the NHL would want to go to a gimmicky place where it would be more of a sideshow attraction is beyond me
c) Quebec City: I'd love to see another Canadian franchise, but put a shovel in the ground already!
d) Kansas City: They have the arena, they have the population and they have a lousy professional hockey track record with the eminently forgettable Scouts.  Plus, with NFL, NCAA, there's a lot of market competition.

Till next time
Steve Clark

Friday, January 27, 2012


Two teams trending in opposite directions clashed as the Belleville Bulls, losers of five in a row and nine of ten took on an Ice Dogs team that had only lost once in 2012, fashioning a 7-1 record.   The trends would hold true to form as the Ice Dogs burst out to a 3-0 first period lead on route to a comfortable 6-0 victory.  Brett Ritchie lead the way with 2 goals, while singles were added by Freddie Hamilton, Andrew Agozzino, Mitchell Theoret and Trevor Peterson.  Agozzino's first period tip in of a Luke Mercer shot was the 148th of his career, tying the franchise record established by Patrick O'Sullivan.   Mark Visentin would pick up his second consecutive shutout and now has a shut-out streak of 152 minutes and 12 seconds.  The clean sheet posted was the 6th of the season for Visentin and that is good enough for the OHL lead in that category. 

Highlights of the game can be found here:     Niagara 6 Belleville 0

The Ice Dogs now embark on a stretch of the season that will see them play 8 of their next 10 on the road.   They start a three game road trip in Guelph on Friday night, then have an important tilt in Brampton on Sunday and then face the London Knights, the best team in the OHL.   

Steve Clark

Monday, January 23, 2012


During Sunday's 2nd Intermission round table Ed Burkholder, Al Galloway and I all reflected on the fine OHL career of Andrew Agozzino.  Agozzino is on the cusp of a number of milestone accolades.  He is two goals away from setting the franchise record in goals currently held by Patrick O' Sullivan.  He is on the verge of 300 games in the OHL and on top of that is the type of captain and leader that everyone should aspire to be.  With an OHL career being 5 years at the most, reaching 300 games all with one team is one that not too many players get to.    Agozzino has also increased his goal total over the first four years of his career going from 12 to 27 to 37 to 43.  With 28 so far this year and on a torrid pace of 13 goals in his last 13 games, it would be wise not to bet against him besting his career mark of 43 set last year.

The Ice Dogs have 23 games remaining in their regular season, so Agozzino has ample time to add to his already impressive career totals.  Plus with the Ice Dogs talent level and potential this year, there is the chance for Agozzino to leave his OHL career on top.  There will be a next chapter to Andrew Agozzino.  We just do not know where it will be.  Somehow Agozzino has not yet found NHL affiliation.  Any franchise would be lucky to add somehow with the skill level and intangibles that Agozzino possesses.

Ed promoted the thought that no one else should wear Agozzino's #9, and it is hard to disagree with that conclusion.   The benchmark for honouring someone in this fashion should be team tenure, on-ice excellence and off-ice example.  Owners Bill and Denise Burke have always been very classy when it comes to honouring the past, the right thing to do would be to raise #9 to rafters when the final chapter is written in Andrew Agozzino's hallmark OHL career.


-- Ice Dog alumnus Darren Archibald made an appearance on Sunday as a spectator.  Archibald, who signed a pro-contract with Vancouver is currently in the ECHL

--Loved the reaction that the Ice Dogs gave Shayne Rover when he scored his 1st career OHL goal after 171 games.  They mobbed Rover like he had scored an OT game winner, when in reality it made the score 8-0.  Extra kudo's to Rover for doing the post game interview covered in shaving cream.  Most players wipe it off, not Rover.  He wore the Gillette foam like a badge of honour!

--Brett Ritchie scored his first goal as an Ice Dog in the 2nd period while little brother Nick scrapped with Mitchell Theoret.  The two brothers were an assist away from a family combo Gordie Howe hat-trick

--Mark Visentin posted shutout #5 on Sunday and # 9 for his career.  Not too shabby considering he had none the first two years of his OHL career

--Ice Dogs got three goals from their D-Men yesterday as along with Rover, Jesse Graham and Luke Mercer found the back of the net.   Jamie Oleksiak chipped in three assists from the back end.

--Ice Dogs are now 7-1 in January

--Ice Dogs host Belleville on Thursday.  We will have the game call starting at 7pm on TV Cogeco.  The Ice Dogs hit the road for games versus Guelph and Brampton.  Brampton still is in 1st place in the division and the Ice Dogs have had two of their most miserable games at the Bunker when they lost 6-4 and 3-0.

-- The 3-0 game featured an irate Marty Williamson calling out his team. .  The Ice Dogs have gone 13-3 since then

Steve Clark

Friday, January 20, 2012


Let me say this right off the bat, least I get a whole host of Sud-barians looking to flatten me with the Big Nickel:  By the precedent set by the Ontario Hockey League, the decision to suspend Dougie Hamilton was the correct one.   The decision to suspend him for ten games is a highly debatable one.  You can debate the merits of the hit here , but what I saw was contact from shoulder to head with an elbow follow through.  To me it was inconclusive as to the nature of the contact of the elbow, but that's just me.  I went Zapruder-like through the footage and was able to freeze it at the point of contact (around :25 seconds) and saw shoulder connect to a player who was low to the ground and had his head down.  This is not to assuage blame on Michael MacDonald, but just stating the facts.  We know that the OHL has come down hard on any sort of head contact and 10 games has been the benchmark.  That said, when you stack up Dougie Hamilton's hit versus say  Alex O'Neill's hit on Frank Schumacher, to me there is no comparison.  A hit in the flow of the game, like Hamilton's was, pales in comparison to the vicious blind side hit delivered by O'Neill. O'Neill , it should be noted also received 10 games for his transgression You can see that hit here.  The OHL needs to start weighing intent as a key factor in determining the length of suspension.  

An amusing take was seen on the front page of the popular fan-site as the headline said "Dougie Hamilton gets 10 games for being taller than other players"   What is not so amusing was the now seen as prophetic Marty Williamson, Coach and GM of the Ice Dogs who predicted in an interview in November that Hamilton would get a 10 game suspension due to his size.  Essentially the stance taken by the OHL triggers the demise of the open ice hit, once a feared weapon, now a subject of supplementary discipline.   

The other side of this story is that as of this writing Brody Silk has escaped supplementary discipline for his straight right punch to the face of a defenseless Ryan Strome.  Strome, as was noted in a prior blog, had facial surgery on Wednesday and a conservative estimate has him out for two weeks.  If this holds true then the OHL sends the curious message  that it is acceptable to punch someone in the face, but head checking is a no-no.  Do you see the inconsistency?  If we apply the criteria and rationale for Dougie Hamilton's 10 game suspension to Brody Silk, you can probably justify Mr. Silk getting some time off to see all the sights and sounds that Sudbury has to offer. 

The rationale for the Hamilton hit was a) Check to the Head b) Vulnerable Opponent c) Opponent Injured on the Play.  Hmm, sounds like a blueprint for the Silk hit, if replace the word "check" with "punch".  However, the officials gave Strome a five minute fighting major so a cursory glance at the stats would seem to lead to the conclusion that this was a mutual consent fight and that a punch to the face is part of the game in that regard.  The scrum started off as the typical milling around, but the more players got involved the more heated it became, and the conclusion, was to say the least, unfortunate. I am not sure anyone can try and justify Silk's actions during the scrum.  He was the aggressor as he grabbed Strome from behind, and never once did Strome drop his gloves who a willingness to engage in any sort of fist fight.  Certainly he was engaged with Silk, but not the extent by which the officials penalized him.



It would not have been a stretch to say that a lack of suspension to Silk would have led to further attempted retribution exacted by the Ice Dogs on Saturday night, and if that happens then the OHL would have inadvertently compounded the problem. 

Steve Clark 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The OHL's supplemental disciplinary committee has a couple of interesting decisions to make after Friday's Sudbury vs Niagara game.  Firstly, Dougie Hamilton's head shot on Sudbury captain Michael MacDonald will almost certainly be first up for decision-makers of the OHL.  Not having seen the head shot, there is no basis or need to comment on the merits of the hit, but what I do know is that Hamilton was assessed a two minute minor penalty by the officials and that MacDonald continued to play in the game, only being diagnosed with concussion like symptoms after the game.  If you go to a discussion of the hit you will find approximately 15 different viewpoints of the hit, proving that eyewitness testimony is flawed, particularly if the observers are adorned in Wolves or Ice Dog colours.   The issue of MacDonald continuing to play in the game likely will be the basis of the Ice Dogs defense as they could argue that the injury could have come after the play (Hamilton picked up his penalty at 2:56 of the 3rd period).  Maybe it's not the best of defenses, but certainly is a mitigating factor. 

The other incident that bears attention is Brody Silk's straight right to the face of Ryan Strome in the midst of a 2nd period scrum.   Strome would miss the rest of that game, return with a cage for the game against Barrie the next night but is now scheduled for facial surgery and will miss a minimum of two weeks.   Having watched this incident a couple of times, a couple of observations:  First of all Strome did not initiate the aggression in that scrum.  This is not to say that he was a blameless victim in the matter as Strome is something of a master of verbal shots.   Also, while Strome was engaged with a couple of different players, he never really looked like he wanted to fight.  When he got tangled up with Silk, Silk simply dropped him with a shot flush in the face.  Somehow Strome got penalized for fighting, while Silk got 2, 5 and 10.  Silk himself admitted after the game that he had grown weary of Strome taking "liberties" with some of his teammates.  

So you have two incidents, one likely of recklessness and carelessness and one with clearly malicious intent. A tricky one indeed for the OHL offices.

One last note is that Sudbury and Niagara will duel this Saturday night in Niagara.  That should be a feisty affair to say the least.  Catch it at 7pm on TV Cogeco and the OHL Action Pack. 

Monday, January 16, 2012


A close eye was kept on the Ice Dogs this weekend with three key divisional match-ups, two against Barrie and one in Sudbury.   A combination of quality defense and rock solid goaltending paced the Ice Dogs to a weekend sweep. The Ice Dogs would end the weekend just one point back of division leading Brampton and two points back of conference leading Ottawa.  

The Ice Dogs used a 24-5 shots on goal  barrage in the third period to finally oust the Barrie Colts with a Freddie Hamilton goal.  Along with the 24 shots, the Ice Dogs also clanged 3 goal posts.  After rookie sensation Aaron Ekblad got the Colts going with a power play goal in the 1st.  The Colts would hold the lead until late in the 2nd period when Andrew Aggozino would score on a wonderful short handed individual effort.  Hamilton's goal came a little more than 8 minutes into the third period, as Niagara fired 48 shots at first star Alex Fotinos.

Highlights are here:

Freddie Hamilton would lead the way with 2 goals while singles were picked up by Andrew Aggozino, Tom Kuhnhackl and Ryan Strome as the Ice Dogs broke open a 2-2 tie in the 2nd period to best the Sudbury Wolves.  Chris Festarini picked up the win in net facing 20 shots.  The game took on a nasty tone in the 2nd period as Sudbury forward Brody Silk flattened Strome with a straight right after a scuffle in front of the net. Dougie Hamilton was + 5 on the night.

Singles from Alex Friesen, Myles Doan, Dougie Hamilton and Tom Kuhnhackl paced the Ice Dogs to a business like 4-1 victory over the Colts.  Mark Visentin faced just 21 shots in the victory. The victory completed a home and home sweep for the Ice Dogs and put the season series at 3-2 in favour of Niagara.  The Ice Dogs have now won five in a row and nine out of their last 10 games.

Friday January 21st Ice Dogs at Erie- last match up 7-2 Niagara
Saturday January 22nd Wolves at Ice Dogs- last match up 5-2 Niagara
Sunday January 23rd- Last match up 5-2 Niagara

- Ryan Strome missed the last half of Friday's game after being punched by Silk, but returned on Saturday

- Freddie Hamilton had 3 goals in three game on the weekend.

- Tom Kuhnhackl had 2 goals in three games including this first even strength goal as an Ice Dog

- Jesse Graham was ranked #119 in the latest Central Scouting rankings while Joel Wigle was at #182

We will have the live call of both the Sudbury game on Saturday night starting at 7pm then be ready to go for a quick turn around for Sunday's game versus Peterborough starting at 2pm.  All the action will be on TV Cogeco and the OHL Action Pack.

Steve Clark

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


See full size imageSee full size imageThe Ice Dog mean business.  I could end the post right there and those who follow the team would know exactly what I'm talking about, but for the sake of analysis.

The Ice Dogs acquisition of behemoth defenseman Jamie Oleksiak may be the trade with the most residual effect in the OHL.  That's right.  In a deadline that has seen the likes of Ryan Spooner, Greg McKegg, Austin Watson, and JP Anderson move, the Ice Dogs giving up one roster player, two players who were Ice Dog property but not with the team and five draft picks for Oleksiak will be the one that resonates.  

The one thing that the Ice Dogs lacked last year was that "don't come through my crease" toughness on defense.  It cost them in their series against Mississauga as many goals scored by the Majors were in close.  Now the Ice Dogs have added both Brock Beukeboom and Oleksiak to specifically address those needs. Add in Tom Kuhnhackl,  and Brett Ritchie and the Ice Dog have shored up a top six forward set that was already potent, a power play that was already ranked #1 in the league to go along with a defense that has already pitched five shutouts this year.   Mark Visentin and Chris Festarini combine for a formidable goaltending duo with Visentin primed for a busy work load down the stretch.

The Ice Dogs have clearly positioned themselves to be one of the favourites in the OHL this year, arguably the favourite.  In an Eastern Conference that has been too close for comfort, the Ice Dogs have attempted to distance themselves from the pack which is not an easy thing in a conference that has Ottawa, Brampton, Belleville and dangerous clubs like Oshawa and Sudbury lurking in the weeds.

My broadcast partner and friend Ed Burkholder has said that teams should start to get a little fear inside them as I roll down the 406 to the Gatorade Garden City Complex.  Should be a fun ride for the Ice Dogs the rest of the year, but for the rest of the OHL it might be as comfortable as the 6'7 Oleksiak sitting in one of the seats at the Jack.

Steve Clark

Monday, January 9, 2012


The Ice Dogs played back to back home games on the weekend, sweeping two tough opponents in Owen Sound and Sarnia and staying in the thick of the race in the Eastern Conference.

Hard to believe that these two teams are out of conference opponents who meet only twice a year.  With the spirited, fight filled game that was played you would think that they are bitter rivals.   The Ice Dogs broke open a 3rd round 1-1 tie with goals by Steven Shipley and Andrew Aggozino to take a 3-1 lead only to see the Attack respond with goals by Matt Petgrave and Mike Halmo, when the net was empty.  Overtime settled nothing, and Andrew Aggozino was the only scorer during the shootout, netting the Ice Dogs the extra point. Goaltenders Jordan Binnington and Chris Festarini excelled in their respective nets, with Binnington facing over 50 shots while Festarini faced over 40.


All four Ice Dogs who were with Canada's world junior team made a much decorated return as the Ice Dogs won an intriguing match up between two teams who are seemingly all-in for the OHL championship this year.    Sarnia, boasting newcomers Ryan Spooner, Tyler Brown, JP Anderson and Adrian Robertson, certainly mortgaged some of their future in the hopes of a lengthy post-season run.  The Sting learned earlier though that they would be without the dynamic Nail Yakupov, who will miss upwards of a month with a knee problem.   Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists to pace the Ice Dogs while Mark Visentin was solid in net.  The Ice Dogs face a three in three weekend, hosting Barrie on Thursday night, travelling to Sudbury on Friday night and returning to face Barrie in Barrie on Saturday night.  The Ice Dogs have won 6 out of 7.

Highlights are here:
We are back on the air Thursday 7pm as Barrie visits Niagara.  Ed, Al and I with have the call on TV Cogeco and the OHL Action Pack.

-- Ice Dogs added a top 6 power forward in Brett Ritchie who had played his whole OHL career with Sarnia.   Ritchie is a Dallas 2nd round pick.

--Ice Dogs also welcomed back Tom Kuhnhackl from his 20 game suspension.  Kuhnhackl scored power play goals in both Friday and Saturday's games.

--OHL Trade Deadline is Tuesday January 10th.  The likes of Ryan Spooner, Gregg McKegg, JP Anderson, John MacFarlane, Matt Petgrave and Geoffrey Schmetisch among others have already been flipped.   The Ice Dogs may still make a move or two still

--With all the fights and the shootout, the Ice Dogs/Attack game on Friday took almost three hours to play.

--Andrew Aggozino had a Gordie Howe hat trick in the third period of Friday's game with a goal, an assist and a scrap vs Daniel Catenacci

--Both Dougie and Freddie Hamilton dropped the gloves on Saturday night.  Some members of the crowd reported that their mom was very happy with the tilt. Did you know BOTH Hamilton parents are former Olympic athletes?  We sure did a lot during the World Jr's

-- Host Al Galloway marked birthday #56 on Saturday and we had a little fun toying with his age on the scoreboard during Saturday's game.

Steve Clark