Dogs come up flat
The Niagara IceDogs dropped a 4-2 decision at the Meridian Centre Thursday. PHOTO BY: TERRY WILSON/OHL IMAGES
The Niagara IceDogs didn’t give themselves much of a chance Thursday.
From giving up a goal less than two minutes in, to spending too much time in the penalty box, to never finding a consistent spark when they needed it most, not much went right.
The result was a 4-2 loss to the Kingston Frontenacs in an Ontario Hockey League action at the Meridian Centre.
The IceDogs dropped to 8-7-3-1.
The Frontenacs improved to 11-6-1-2.
“Inconsistent period to period, shift to shift and line to line,” Niagara head coach Billy Burke said when asked for his impressions of the game. “We would have two guys going on a line and the third guy is not going.”
Kingston jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Nathan Dunkley and Sergey Popov, the latter on wrist shot that squeezed past Stephen Dhillon.
“I thought our first period was good other than the first two shots go in and that sucks the life right out of you,” Burke said. “Whether they were soft of not — I’m sure Stevie would like to have them back — but he made some huge saves after that.”
Burke admitted the slow start really put the club behind the eight-ball.
“Anytime you are down 2-0 on the first two shots that’s tough,” he said. “We kind of challenged an older defence pair (William Lochead, Zach Shankar) to do a job on their top line and they get burned on the first goal on the first shift so that kind of sets the tone.”
Niagara finally got on the board when Kirill Maksimov ripped home his team-leading ninth goal of the season on a power play in the second. But Kingston got that one right back when Tyler Burnie found himself alone in the slot and fired home his ninth of the season.
The IceDogs spent eight minutes in the box in the second and were outshot 19-7.
It was not their finest hour.
“We were flat and had no rhythm,” Burke said. “It’s mentally rattling when you see the arm go up six times in a row. You don’t use everyone on the kill so you have guys who are just sitting there and their legs get heavy.
“It’s horrible. You just don’t want to get into that situation.”
Maksimov netted his second the game five minutes into the third, a short-handed marker, off a nice feed from Akil Thomas.
The third period was easily Niagara’s best.
Burke said the club was still hopeful of coming back despite things not falling into place in the first two periods.
“Two goals in this league is nothing and to keep pressing,” Burke said when asked for the message delivered between the second and third periods. “It really wasn’t a yell and scream.
“The guys were saying the right things in the room — it’s a good character team — but it’s got to be consistent. It’s got to be everyone. We’re not a superstar team that can rely on one guy. We can’t rely on Akil Thomas who’s 17.”
The IceDogs were without Elijah Roberts again who is nursing an upper body injury. His veteran presence has been difficult to replace.
“Our back end has to be stronger, at times,” Burke added. “They do a lot of good things but then there are times when they go sleepy, and whether they get their pocket picked, or make a bad read, it’s all these little things. The leadership there needs to be a little bit harder at key moments.”
Burke said the IceDogs have parted ways with import forward Ondrej Machala.
“We’ll put him on waivers but there is no trade in the league for him. He doesn’t even want to be in the league. He just wants to go home.
“He quit the team. There was too much competition for him.”
Ice cubes: Ian Martin, Billy Constantinou and Roberts did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Former IceDog Cal Davis, Justin Pringle, Sam Field, Emmett Gordon and Jeremy Helvig were scratched for the Frontenacs . . . The Lincoln/Welland regiment band will be performing the national anthem at Friday’s game on Military Appreciation night. Military Service members will receive a free ticket to the game . . .Philip Tomasino has returned from the World Under-17 Challenge where he collected an assist in five games.
BSPN Star of the Game: Kingston captain Ted Nichol with three assists.
For the Niagara IceDogs: Kirill Maksimov 2 (9,10).
For the Kingston Frontenacs: Ryan Cranford (8); Tyler Burnie (8); Nathan Dunkley (5); Sergey Popov (4).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Mario Peccia (28), by Kingston on Stephen Dhillon (33); Power plays: Niagara 1-for-6, Kingston 0-for-7; Penalty minutes: Niagara 14, Kingston 12.
Up next: The IceDogs host North Bay Friday at 7 p.m. and travel to Mississauga Sunday at 2 p.m.