Some quick thoughts on the IceDogs weekend, and recent play: Winston Churchill once referred to Stalin as " a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma" It's a quote that could certainly apply to the IceDogs recent run. No, it does not mean that Marty Williamson is Stalin, or Churchill for that matter, but the coach/GM must be pulling his hair out trying to figure out his team.
Coming off of a three game losing the streak, the team battled the elements and themselves on route to a 7-4 win over the reeling Peterborough Petes. The storm on Thursday's made the bus ride to the lift lock city slow and arduous and the IceDogs arrived well after their normal arrival and the game subsequently was delayed for 30 minutes to allow the team a proper warm up. The Dogs jumped up 2-0, fell behind 4-2 and then scored 5 straight to win despite taking a slew of baffling, undisciplined and downright foolish penalties in the third and handing the Petes 11 power plays. Still, you take the road W and run.
Friday night saw the IceDogs sweep, yes I said sweep, Oshawa Generals with a hard fought 5-3 win. Although the Generals were missing top producers Michael DalColle (Team Canada) and Andrew Cassels, they still represent a formidable foe and the IceDogs earned every bit of that tough victory. That meant the IceDogs had four victories against Erie/Oshawa, arguably the best teams in the OHL and holders of the CHL #1 ranking during the season.
So it was all set up for a 6 point sweep of the weekend as the rebuilding Saginaw Spirit came to town, off of a 6-4 defeat at the hands of Erie. A series of moves by the Spirit seemed to indicate they had an eye towards the future, and it promised to be the easiest of the three games of the weekend. Right? Right? Wrong! The IceDogs came out with all the sizzle of a deflated balloon and got pounded 7-1. Missed passes, lines not on the same page and a general all around lethargy left the 4000 plus in attendance a tad confused, as they wondered whether or not it was the same team that had taken the ice 24 hours before. It was by far the flattest performance of the year on home ice and again raised the question of whether or not this team could be a surprise contender, or a mere pretender in the eastern conference.
As we approach the mid way point of the season, there are no clear answers, and really no more excuses. The injury list has been reduced and impact performers Brendan Perlini, Cody Payne and Ryan Mantha are back. On paper the IceDogs have three solid forward lines and a fourth line that should provide energy and forechecking. This is neither the time nor the forum to name names, but there are players not performing to expectations, both on the score sheet and in doing the little things, the intangibles that make a team better.
Every time I see this team show the potential that they possess they put up a performance like Saturday's game and undo a lot of the good they had previously accomplished. Do I believe in this team still? Yes, but like the old hockey cliche goes, I'm taking this team one game at a time until I figure out exactly who they are.
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