Flores earns his keep
Not often a goaltender who permits five goals is awarded with a star of the game, but Owen Flores was full value for his selection as third star Wednesday night.
Flores kicked out 56 shots, including 24 in the second period alone, as the Niagara IceDogs dropped a 5-1 decision to the Barrie Colts in Ontario Hockey League action at Meridian Centre.
Flores, an 18-year-old native of Illinois, feels so much action can be a double-edged sword.
“It kind of makes the game more fun but actually you don’t want to see that many shots every night,” Flores said. “It can definitely help a lot. Obviously, it’s not ideal for a goalie. It’s a little bit tiring but a lot of shots is better than no shots.”
The 61 shots given up marks the eighth time this season the IceDogs have permitted more than 50 shots in a game.
“Everyone is trying their hardest out there blocking shots,” Flores said. “Some get through, some don’t. It’s the way of the game. Sixty-one shots is 61 shots, whether you block them or not. It’s a team effort.
“You can see a little bit of a breakdown sometimes. Barrie is a very good team so they find the seams back door but as a team we’re all doing everything we can. Sometimes pucks just get through on lucky bounces. That’s just the way the game goes.”
Flores said despite the struggles, the IceDogs aren’t giving up on the season.
“It’s frustrating out there for everyone,” he said. “It’s a tough season for us but we come to the rink every day and battle the same way as if we were winning.
“It’s a good culture in there.”
Niagara coach Ryan Kuwabara tipped his cap to his goaltending tandem of Flores and Josh Rosenzweig.
“They’re awesome,” he said. “All I can do is ask them to give us a chance to win every night. They’re stopping pucks.”
Kuwabara pointed to fatigue as a possible factor in the club’s defensive struggles.
“I think we’re a little tired and when we get deep into games our details are a little lax,” he said. “We’re tired, a lot of games in a short amount of time. We played seven games in 11 days and now we’re six games in 10 days. It’s tough when you have so many injuries. It’s tough for our guys to go out and grind and grind but they did.”
The IceDogs trailed 3-1 heading into the third but the Colts scored just 52 seconds into the final frame.
“I can’t fault the guys,” Kuwabara said. “They’re working and trying their best. They’re doing the stuff out there we’re asking them to do but sometimes when you play a better team they’re going to expose you.
“For two periods, I thought we were pretty good. A bounce here or there and it’s different story.”
With 17 games remaining and a playoff spot all but out of reach, Kuwabara said the club is focusing on smaller details.
“It’s just little victories. Little chips, getting chances to score,” he said. “That’s the stuff we have to build on. It’s tough for our guys but they work hard. I told them I was proud of them because they worked till the end.”
Ice cubes: Landon Cato (upper body), Gerard Keane (broken wrist), Anthony Agostinelli (concussion) and Declan Waddick did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Sam Hilebrandt, Callum Chrisholm, Cooper Matthews, Tyler Savard, Josh Kavanagh and Kashawn Aitcheson were scratched for Barrie . . . Niagara’s Daniel Michaud dropped the gloves with Barrie’s Declan McDonnell in the third period . . . Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Tai York was held scoreless. The former St. Catharines Falcon has 11 goals and 17 points this season.
Colts 5 IceDogs 1
Barrie’s Evan Vierling and Niagara’s Owen Flores.
Niagara IceDogs: Juan Copeland (9).
Barrie Colts: Evan Vierling 2 (23, 24); Ethan Cardwell (28); Connor Punnett (13); Declan McDonnell (8).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Anson Thornton (21), by Barrie on Owen Flores (61); Power plays: Niagara 0/1, Barrie 1/4; Penalty minutes: Niagara 13, Barrie 7.
Next up: The IceDogs are in Mississaugua Friday night and back home Sunday againt Sudbury.
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 4,800 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.