IceDogs can’t figure out Bulldogs
The Niagara IceDogs will be glad to see the last of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The IceDogs dropped a 6-3 decision Saturday to the Bulldogs in an Ontario Hockey League game played at an empty Meridian Centre to fall to 0-6 versus their closest geographical rivals.
“It’s a tough matchup for us,” IceDogs head coach Billy Burke said, following an extended post-game meeting. “They’re a good team and we see them a ton. Unfortunately they have our number this year, no doubt about that.
“We just have to keep going, keep fighting and just try to keep getting better.”
The loss drops Niagara’s record to 10-20-1-1.
The Bulldogs, who loaded up at the trade deadline for a run at a title, improved to 20-10-2-2.
The teams have two games remaining, Feb. 27 and one more yet to be scheduled.
The Bulldogs dominated the opening 20 minutes, scoring three times while outshooting the IceDogs 19-7.
“I thought we started the game, unfortunately we didn’t play to our identity,” Burke said. “It’s almost like we wanted to play like Hamilton. We’re not Hamilton. We can’t play that way. They can play that way and have success.
“That was a bad thing and it was certainly a lesson for us in how we have to play our structure.”
Burke said he had a chat with the team following the period.
“I had to talk to the guys, stern a little bit, but I thought they did a good job of replying,” he said. “I thought we did a good job of regrouping and then played a much better second and third.”
Hamilton netted the lone goal of the second period to lead 4-0 after two. Hamilton’s Giordano Biondi was awarded a penalty shot with 4:03 remaining in the second period after he was hooked on a breakaway but was turned away by Josh Rosenzweig.
Niagara finally showed some signs of life and got on the board early in the third period when former Bulldog Liam VanLoon netted his 10th of the season at the end of an otherwise ineffective two-man advantage. Just 17 seconds later Dylan Roobroeck’s fourth of the season narrowed the gap to 4-2.
Hamilton got that one back when Jan Mysak scored a power-play goal after the IceDogs were called for too many men on the ice to make it 5-2.
The teams then traded goals in the final two minutes with Mysak completing the hat-trick into an empty net a 18:33.
Burke appreciated the effort in the final 40 minutes.
“There was zero quit on our bench,” he said. “The guys stuck with it and we hung around. It was exciting and the guys believed they were in it. It was nice to capitalize and get some breaks and earn some breaks.”
The IceDogs have no time to dwell on the loss with a 2 p.m. game Sunday in Mississauga against the OHL’s top team.
“These games come fast and furious,” Burke said. “We certainly don’t want to be bogging them down with video tomorrow. We do some video between periods to try and clean some things up but you have to pick your spots with when you want to do it.”
Rosenzweig, who has started the last eight games, faced 50 shots and Burke hinted he may be due for a game off. Rookie Joey Costanzo last started Dec. 16 versus North Bay.
“He’s going to get in here soon,” Burke said. “It’s too much on Rosey to keep expecting him to go every day. We have a ton of confidence in Joey and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him very soon.”
The IceDogs were playing their second game without leading scorer Danil Gushchin, who was suspended for four games for a head check on North Bay goaltender Dom DiVincentiis Tuesday. DiVincentiis was injured on the play and forced to leave the game. Gushchin is eligible to return Friday versus Ottawa.
Ice cubes: Gushchin and Sami Douglas Najem did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Noah Nelson, Noah Roberts, Logan Morrison, Noah VandenBrink, Colton Kammerer, Mason McTavish, Lucas Moore and Brenden Anderson were scratched for the Bulldogs . . . St. Catharines native Braeden O’Keefe, 16, played his fifth game of the season for Hamilton . . . Ex-IceDogs centre Ethan Sims started the game for the Bulldogs. Sims has four goals in five games with the Milton Menace of the Ontario Junior A Hockey League . . . Former St. Catharines Falcons defenceman Arber Xhekaj picked up an assist for the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs 6 IceDogs 3
Niagara’s Alec Leonard and Hamilton’s Jan Mysak.
Niagara IceDogs: Liam VanLoon (10); Dylan Roobroeck (4); Alec Leonard (4).
Hamilton Bulldogs: Jan Mysak 3 (19, 20, 21); Avery Hayes (21); George Diaco (14); Ryan Humphrey (10).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Mattero Drobac (31), by Hamilton on Josh Rosenzweig (50); Power plays: Niagara 1-for-6, Hamilton 2-for-3; Penalty minutes: Niagara 12, Hamilton 16.
Attendance: Not permitted.
Up next: At Mississauga Sunday at 2 p.m. Home to the Steelheads Tuesday.
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