IceDogs dominate pre-season opener
The Niagara IceDogs wasted no time putting together their roster this training camp.
The IceDogs took only a couple of days to cut from the 44 players that began camp down to a more manageable 23.
“Usually after 48 hours (we make the cuts) to keep eligibility for some of the young guys,” Niagara head coach Ryan Kuwabara said. “If they’re not in the mix, we’d rather they just head back to their home schools and get their family life going and get on the next teams they are going to be playing on.”
Kuwabara also feels this strategy gives the team more time to work with the players who are going to start the season.
“It’s key, really,” Kuwabara said. “We’re going work on a lot of different systems, tweaks and stuff, and try some other guys in different spots. That’s the key to this training camp and exhibition series, the ability to allow the guys to play in situations they might normally do in the regular season and get used to it.”
The IceDogs opened the exhibition season Saturday night with — barring any trades — what is expected to be essentially their opening night roster and came away with a convincing 7-1 victory over the Peterborough Petes in front of a sparse crowd at Meridian Centre.
Kuwabara loved what he saw.
“The guys worked hard offensively, defensively, all around the ice. They tried to make plays. They did all the right things. Just the foundation there for us to just continue to get there every day and they did everything we asked of them.
“I’m pretty proud of them.”
After finishing last overall in 2022/23, Kuwabara feels it is essential to move on from that frame of mind and get off to a good start, even in pre-season.
“That was a huge thing. We just talked about it in there after the game,” he said. “Just dust off those last-year jitters and go have some fun and play hard and that’s exactly what they did. With us getting some confidence, hopefully it just continues to build.”
As currently constructed, the roster contains 13 forwards, seven defenceman and three goaltenders.
Defenceman Daniil Sobolev is the lone over-ager on the team while rearguard Urban Podrekar is the only import.
Forwards Ryan Roobroeck, Ethan Czata and Ivan Gallyanov, along with defencemen Frolov and Darcy Dewachter are all rookies drafted in 2023 who made the cut.
Charlie Burns, who played three games for the IceDogs last season, got the start in goal Saturday and looked strong. The 17-year-old native of Sault Ste. Marie is expected to begin the season with the Fort Erie Meteors of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“Last year he came in and helped us out,” Kuwabara said of Burns. “It was tough for him to come in when he did and face the firestorm but sometimes it bodes well. You get some confidence and see what the league is all about. To come and show well, I think it bodes well for him.”
Kevin He and Andrew Wycisk each had two goals in the win while Evan Klein, Alex Assadourian and Roobroeck added singles.
The IceDogs travel to Guelph Friday to kick-off back-to-back games with the Storm, with the second game taking place at Fleming Memorial Arena in Beamsville Saturday, Sept. 9.
Ryan Roobroeck (R)
Ethan Czata (R)
Ivan Gallyanov (R)
Artem Frolov (R)
Urban Podrekar (I)
Darcy Dewachter (R)
Daniil Sobolev (OA)
Charlie Burns (R)
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