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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

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