IceDogs drop eighth straight
It has been a start and stop season for Andrew Wycisk.
The 17-year-old defenceman for the Niagara IceDogs has been in and out of the line-up on several occasions battling a stubborn shoulder problem before finally returning for good early last month.
Finally healthy, the Etobicoke native has played 16 games in a row and last week netted his first goal of the season at Sudbury.
Wycisk potted his second of the season as the IceDogs dropped a 4-3 decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs in Ontario Hockey League action Thursday night at Meridian Centre.
But Wycisk wasn’t able to discuss the goal — or anything else for that matter — as he was being looked at by team doctors after injuring his cheek late in the game.
IceDogs coach Ryan Kuwabara was just coming on board as coach when Wycisk returned to the lineup.
“He’s got great feet for a young guy and he’s learning to pick his spots on the blueline to get pucks through,” Kuwabara said. “He’s been working really hard on retrievals and first pass. It’s coming for sure.
“It’s tough for young guys when they don’t get a chance to play many minutes and that’s the option we have now. These guys are going to play some minutes and get experience.”
Away from the rink, Wycisk was recently named the OHL Central Division Academic Player of the Month for February. He is currently achieving academic excellence in Grade 12 level courses, including high grades in advanced functions, physics, world issues and fitness at Governor Simcoe Secondary School.
“Andrew is an excellent student and is currently holding an average in the high 80s,” IceDogs academic advisor Tim Tope said.
The ability to learn is vital for young players such as Wycisk to develop as Kuwabara and the coaching staff attempt to teach the young squad.
“We do video and follow it up on the board and just getting them to provide the feedback to make sure it stays in their heads,” he said. “There’s so much going on in a game when they’re young they sometimes don’t focus on the right thing and that’s my job and the staff’s job that they understand what they’re supposed to do out there.”
Kuwabara admitted it can get frustrating at times.
“Young guys are tough. It’s just like with my kids — you love them sometime and you hate them sometime,” he smiled.
The loss was Niagara’s eighth in a row. Overall, the IceDogs are 11-41-8-1 and are an abysmal 3-27 in 2023.
With only seven games remaining in the season, Kuwabara said the club is focusing on small details.
“Just line combinations, simple details of the game, just trying to get some guys in different situations that they might not normally get into, but we’re still trying to win every game,” he said.
The IceDogs trailed 3-2 after two periods and appeared to tie the game early in the third, but the goal was called back on replay when the play was ruled offside.
“I didn’t get to see it so I don’t know if it was or wasn’t but that would have been a huge momentum changer for us to score the first goal of the third and take control,” Kuwabara said. “I thought overall we played pretty well.”
Ice cubes: Landon Cato (upper body), Gerard Keane (broken wrist), Anthony Agostinelli (concussion), William Stuart, David Jesus and Josh Rosenzweig (ill) did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Noah Roberts, Noah VandenBrink, Carson Lloyd, Cedrickson Okitundu, Jorian Donovan and Marek Vanacker were scratched for Hamilton . . . Welland’s Callum Cheynowski suited up for the Bulldogs after playing most of the season with the Thorold Blackhawks. The Hawks were eliminated by the Caledonia Corvairs in junior B playoff action Wednesday.
Bulldogs 4 IceDogs 3
Hamilton’s Lawson Sherk and Niagara’s Declan Waddick.
Niagara IceDogs: Declan Waddick (24); Juan Copeland (10); Andrew Wycisk (2).
Hamilton Bulldogs: Lawson Sherk 2 (9, 10); Nick Lardis (33); Florian Xhekaj (11).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Tristan Malboeuf (34), by Hamilton on Owen Flores (46); Power plays: Niagara 1/2, Hamilton 0/1; Penalty minutes: Niagara 2, Hamilton 4.
Next up: The IceDogs are in Hamilton Friday and back home Saturday against Ottawa.
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