Gamble on Betts pays off for IceDogs
Niagara IceDogs defenceman Dakota Betts, seen here in a file shot, had four points as the IceDogs topped the visiting Barrie Colts Thursday. Photo by: OHL IMAGES
Dakota Betts normally takes care of his own end and leaves the scoring to the forwards.
But Betts got in on the offence Thursday with two goals and two assists as the Niagara IceDogs outlasted the Barrie Colts 8-5 in Ontario Hockey League action at the Meridian Centre.
“It’s pretty nice,” Betts said of his offensive outburst. “I just found the holes. Got a couple shots on that found the net and got some points.”
Betts’ performance did not go unnoticed by IceDogs coach Billy Burke.
“Betts has just been outstanding all season,” Burke said. “His physicality, his toughness, his leadership, his offence . . . great goals, huge, timely goals for us and he’s just a tremendous leader.
“He was a U18 pick who was traded to us for basically a tryout at training camp and he turns into being a big impact guy a couple of years later.”
Betts, who was also a plus-five on the night, wasn’t the only IceDog to have a big night as Danil Gushchin had three goals and two assists while Cameron Butler chipped in with four assists. Brice Cooke also added his first OHL goal while Cam Peters scored his first of the season.
“Oh, it helps a lot,” Betts said of the balanced attack. “The last two games we were unable to score and obviously some guys stepped up tonight, some big players on our team. They came out and played good.”
The IceDogs were coming off back-to-back shutouts to the Hamilton Bulldogs last weekend and were facing a strong Colts squad who are expected to be a top contender this season.
“They’re a great team over there,” Betts said. “They were a top-five ranked team in the whole CHL but I think we’re the better team we obviously showed tonight.”
The IceDogs raced out to a 4-1 lead in the first period against local product Matteo Lalama, who faced 12 shots.
Matthew Sbrocca took over for Lalama to start the second period. Lalama was coming off a shutout in his OHL debut versus Mississauga last week.
The Colts scored the lone goal of the second period when Ethan Cardwell netted his second of the season with only 10 seconds remaining and Isaac Enright in the penalty box.
All hell broke loose in the third period as the teams combined for seven goals. The Colts tied the game at 5-5 but the IceDogs responded scoring the final three of the period.
“It was for sure one of those nights in the OHL where honestly when it was 7-5 and they were on the power play I was thinking this thing is far from over,” Burke said. “They’re elite skill, they’re very well coached. They’re a strong team so it was a great win for our guys.
“Tough weekend last weekend but great resiliency to bend, learn from it hopefully. To walk away with the learning experience and the win is a great feeling.”
The game marked the return of former IceDogs and Brock Badgers coach Marty Williamson to St. Catharines. Williamson was Niagara’s general manager and coach from 2010-11 through 2015-16.
Ice cubes: Anthony Agostinelli, Mason Howard and Cameron Snow all remain out of the Niagara lineup and are listed week to week . . . Josh Rosenzweig, Jonah DeSimone and A.J. Cook were healthy scratches . . . Connor Punnett, Grayson Tiller, Vlad Dvurechenskii, Trey Zagrzebski, David Burri and Roenick Jordan did not play for the Colts . . . Florida Panthers senior advisor and former St. Catharines Black Hawk Rick Dudley was in attendance . . .
IceDogs 8 Colts 5
Bryony Hawthorn/Impact Players of the Game: Dakota Betts of Niagara and Osker Olausson of Barrie.
For the Niagara IceDogs: Betts 2 (1,2); Danil Gushchin 3 (2,3,4); Aidan Castle (2); Cameron Peters (1); Brice Cooke (1).
For the Barrie Colts: Olausson 3 (5,6,7); Oliver Smith (3); Ethan Cardwell (2).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Matteo Lalama (12), Matthew Sbrocca (27); by Barrie on Tucker Tynan (39 ); Power plays: Niagara 1-for-4, Barrie 2-for-6; Penalty minutes: Niagara 42, Barrie 132
Up next: In Oshawa Friday and home to Mississauga Saturday.
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