Falcons add former IceDogs goaltender
Andrew MacLean didn’t have very far to go when things didn’t work out with the Niagara IceDogs.
The 20-year-old netminder fell victim to the numbers game — the IceDogs still have three goalies left in camp — as well as the fact he is an over-age player this season.
With his Ontario Hockey League options limited, MacLean turned to the St. Catharines Falcons, who had kept contact with the veteran netminder all summer.
“As an OA in the OHL things happen quick,” MacLean said. “I had these guys in the back of my mind. They said if another OHL team wants you we won’t hold you back. They were here with me since summer. They had my back.
“They have been very team oriented and what’s best for you and I decided playing here would be the best thing for me to stay in St. Catharines and play for the Falcons.”
MacLean, a native of Michigan, enjoyed his time in St. Catharines with the IceDogs, which also tipped the scales in favour of the Falcons.
“It’s pretty good area,” he said. “It’s very hockey-oriented. It’s got a bunch of teams — the university (Brock), the Falcons, the IceDogs — it’s a big hockey community. Owen Sound was my rookie team and that was a giant hockey town and this really reminds me of up there. Everybody knows you and there are great people, too. You couldn’t ask for a better fan base too.”
MacLean joined the Falcons last week and quickly caught the eye of Falcons head coach Tyler Bielby.
“I think the first thing that stood out for me was his pedigree, but more importantly, was his practise,” Bielby said. “Not even 24 hours removed from the IceDogs and he was already the hardest working guy on the ice.
“Anytime you get a guy coming down approaching the game the way he has, it only makes your team stronger. As much as you are getting a great goaltender, I think we’re getting a better person.”
MacLean has been impressed with his brief exposure to the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“It’s definitely great hockey,” he said. “Junior A might be a little more skilled than us down here in junior B but we definitely work harder. Our team has the hard-working mentality and I’m just coming in here as a role model for these younger guys. We can build the team up and teach them a couple of things that I know and they can teach me a couple of things in return.
“I just think with the group of guys we have, we could probably beat a few junior A teams, to be honest.”
MacLean, who has also played for the Oshawa Generals, is expected to get a good deal of work in goal, although Josh Johnson has been impressive in camp as well. Johnson, a 19-year-old Hamilton native, last played for Waterloo U18 AAA in 2019/20.
“That was big thing when I was deciding if I was going to come play here or not. They said you were going to be our guy and that’s huge,” MacLean said. “I don’t want to be sitting the bench as a 20-year-old. I respect my goalie partner, Josh, he’ll be winning us games this year.
“I think overall we have a solid core, a solid goalie group, and we’re going to have a great year.”
Bielby isn’t worried about finding playing time for both netminders
“It’s a good problem to have,” he said. “First and foremost, they are great teammates and as we work through that process they are going to support one another and make sure they are cheering each other on to help the team be successful.
“At the end of the day we can say we are very comfortable with both of our goaltenders. It’s really a good challenge to have finding ways to get them their minutes.”
The Falcons wrap up the exhibition season Friday at home to the Niagara Falls Canucks with their roster pretty much set for the season opener Friday, Sept. 24 when they host the Caledonia Corvairs.
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