IceDogs attacked at home
When it rains it pours, and right now the Niagara IceDogs find themselves in the middle of a deluge with no shelter in sight.
The IceDogs free fall continued Thursday with an embarrassing 11-1 loss to the Owen Sound Attack Ontario Hockey League action in St. Catharines.
It was the seventh straight loss for the IceDogs and ninth defeat in their last 10 games.
Nevertheless, Niagara continues to cling to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 39 points, three up on the Kingston Frontenacs, who own a game in hand.
IceDogs coach Billy Burke laid it on the line in his post-game press conference.
“It’s pretty bad,” Burke said. “It’s tough here. You can’t even say they weren’t trying — they were trying.
“I feel bad for the guys.”
The Attack grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period and were outshooting the IceDogs 22-3 until a late power-play goal by Cameron Butler got Niagara on the board. The Attack answered right back before the end of the period when Aidan Dudas netted his second of the night with 1:04 remaining to take a 3-1 lead.
Things got even worse in the second. The IceDogs didn’t get their first shot on net until the 14:26 mark, which elicited a derisive cheer from the crowd. Niagara managed only three shots on goal in the period and trailed 7-1 after two.
To add insult to injury, the Attack pumped four more past former teammate Andrew MacLean in the third.
“I thought at times we looked scared, which isn’t good,” Burke said. “Loose pucks, we’re waiting for them to get it. Just no tenacity, no bite.
“It’s not fun.”
The IceDogs are clearly a fragile team right now, something Burke and his staff have taken into account.
“Beating them down and yelling and screaming, that doesn’t help right now,” Burke said. “It is what it is.
“The reality is every single guy in the lineup is playing up from where they should be. That’s tough and there’s not a lot of positives. You somehow have to generate some positives but there’s not a lot.”
Burke said there’s no real point in trying to do something out of the ordinary to shake things up.
“There’s only so much you can do, really,” he said. “It’s tough and it’s not fun. You’re squirming back there (behind the bench) and you feel for the guys. It’s not like they quit and they don’t care.
“They’re outclassed and we’re going to be outclassed in 99 per cent of the games coming up so we’re going to have to find some way to create some type of advantage for us.”
Things don’t get any easier this weekend with road games in Sault Ste. Marie Saturday and Sudbury Sunday night.
“We’re going on the road, maybe it will help,” Burke said. “You just have to find a way to do something positive and I think one thing we can do is crack down defensively. Once we can start making harder plays, then we’ll have something to work with.”
Ice cubes: Tucker Tynan, Ivan Lodnia, Cameron Peters and Ryan Campbell were scratched for the IceDogs . . . Former IceDog Matthew Philip, Griffin Wilson and Stepan Machacek did not dress for the Attack due to a finger injury. Philip, who is in his overage year, has 19 goals and 29 points in 48 games. He was dealt for forward Jackson Doherty (3-6-9) and a sixth-round pick in the off season . . . Beamsville’s Adam McMaster, who came into the game with 15 goals and 32 points, picked up two assists and was a plus-3.
Attack 11 IceDogs 1
BPSN Star of the Game: Owen Sound forward Kaleb Pearson with three goals and an assist.
Niagara IceDogs: Cameron Butler (16).
Owen Sound Attack: Pearson 3 (13, 14, 15); Aidan Dudas 2 (13, 14); Brady Lyle 2 (15, 16); Matthew Strothers (20); Sergey Popov (15); Deni Goure (9); Ethan Burroughs (8).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Mack Guzda (16), by Owen Sound on Andrew MacLean (47); Power plays: Niagara 1-for-1, Owen Sound 0-for-4; Penalty minutes: Niagara 10, Owen Sound 4.
Up next: The IceDogs are in Sault Ste. Marie Saturday and Sudbury Sunday. They return home Thursday, Feb. 13 versus Barrie.
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