IceDogs dominate Generals
Ivan Lodnia came to play Sunday.
The 19-year-old winger turned in one of his best performances of the playoffs to help lift the Niagara IceDogs past the Oshawa Generals 5-1 on home ice.
The IceDogs lead the Ontario Hockey League best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal 2-0 and can take a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game 3 Tuesday in Oshawa.
Lodnia collected a goal and two assists in addition to his usual strong two-way play.
“It’s nice, but obviously to be up 2-0 feels better,” Lodnia said when asked about his offensive production. “I’m the kind of guy, you can ask anyone, points are great but as long as we’re up 2-0 and we keep winning, I’m really happy.”
IceDogs coach Billy Burke appreciates Lodnia’s attention to detail on both sides of the puck.
“He can score — that was a huge goal he got on the power play right away,” Burke said. “(It’s) his commitment to a two-way game, he’s an excellent penalty killer and he can take face-offs. He’s a complete player.”
Lodnia also brings the experience of winning an OHL championship two seasons ago with the Erie Otters.
“He’s been to a Memorial Cup and has great experience. He’s sharing that with the guys,” Burke said.
Lodnia feels there are similarities between the IceDogs and that Otters squad.
“Both were very good teams, both had really good coaching staffs and really good guys,” he said. “This team is family. We’re all best friends with each other. We win together and off the ice hang out, so I think that chemistry is helping us.”
Burke loved the effort, but said there is always room for improvement.
“We did a great job. That’s what we needed and what we’ve been striving to do,” he said. “As the playoffs go on, that’s how you have to play.
“You have to make sure you’re not giving up big chances — there’s still a couple of mistakes we can look at and ways they feel they can exploit us — but it sure was a great effort, a team effort, and we looked pretty suffocating at times.”
The IceDogs were once again without star forwards Akil Thomas and Kirill Maksimov, who continue to be listed as day-to-day.
“If you look down our whole roster, any guy can play in the top six or top three,” Lodnia said. “We really miss (Thomas and Maksimov) but hopefully they can come back soon. We’re doing pretty well now, so when they come back, we’ll be a dangerous team.”
The IceDogs stormed out of the chute with a strong first period as Lodnia netted a power-play goal early in the period. The IceDogs held a 21-8 edge in shots in the opening 20 minutes.
Niagara built a 2-0 lead early in the second when former General Matt Brassard netted his first of the playoffs. Oshawa made it a one-goal game when Allan McShane countered before Philip Tomasino restored Niagara’s two-goal margin. The IceDogs led 36-15 in shots after two. Only the outstanding work of Oshawa goalie Kyle Keyser kept the IceDogs from adding to their lead.
Jason Robertson then went to work and padded the lead with two goals in the third. Overall, the IceDogs outshot the Generals 42-25.
While the IceDogs are obviously feeling good about themselves, Burke cautioned the series is far from over as the scene shifts to Oshawa for the next two games.
“It’s a great rink with a ton of fan support and it’s going to be rocking in there,” Burke said. “Oshawa fans don’t like us, and we don’t like them. It’s a great rivalry and we make sure we’re not forcing anything and try to limit our mistakes because they’re going to have another gear at home for sure.”
Ice cubes: Christian Sbaraglia, Akil Thomas, Kirill Maksimov and Jonah DiSimone did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Matthew Sbrocca, Matthieu Franche and Danyk Drouin were scratched for the Gens . . . Former IceDog Lleyton Moore received a good amount of Ice time for the Gens, including time on the power play.
IceDogs 5 Generals 1
BPSN Star of the Game: Niagara forward Ivan Lodnia with a goal and two assists.
Niagara IceDogs: Lodnia (2); Jason Robertson 2 (4, 5); Philip Tomasino (4); Matt Brassard (1).
Oshawa Generals: Allan McShane (3)
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Kyle Keyser (42), by Oshawa on Stephen Dhillon (25); Power plays: Niagara 1-for-4, Oshawa 0-for-5; Penalty minutes: Niagara 10, Oshawa 12.
Up next: Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Thursday in Oshawa.
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