IceDogs drop seventh straight
Things continued to snowball downhill for the Niagara IceDogs.
The IceDogs dropped a 6-4 decision to the Sudbury Wolves in Ontario Hockey League action Wednesday at Meridian Centre for their seventh straight loss, but that may not even be the worst part.
The IceDogs dressed only 17 skaters — one under the limit — due to a spate of injuries and a suspension to rookie Kevin He, then lost three more players during the game to injury and all three could be of the serious nature.
Already missing captain Landon Cato, Andrew Wycisk and Daniel Michaud to injury and He, the IceDogs saw defenceman Gerard Keane go down to a broken wrist and forward Anthony Agostinelli leave after being smacked into the boards in the second period. If that wasn’t enough, goalie Owen Flores also had leave the game in the middle frame when he was slid into by a Wolves player. Flores appeared to be favouring his leg as he was helped off the ice and did not return to the bench.
The IceDogs finished the game with just 15 skaters and one goalie.
While Keane’s injury was confirmed, the extent of the injuries to Agostinelli and Flores were unknown immediately following the game.
“When you’re short bodies, it’s tough on guys,” Niagara coach Ryan Kuwabara said. “We’re trying to manage stuff and I just love our guys’ heart. They didn’t quit. They were down, the chips were down, and we found a way to battle back.
“We just have to find a way to keep it together. It’s going to be a tough grind these next few games for sure.”
The IceDogs are back in action Thursday at home to Mississauga, Saturday at home to Kingston followed by a Sunday afternoon game in Mississauga.
Rookie Andrew Vermeulen was called up from Brantford 99ers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for the game and it’s possible the IceDogs may have to dip down and add another player or two.
“It’s (call ups) is going to help with bodies. We’re going to have to find a way to keep it simple and play hard still,” Kuwabara said.
The Wolves took a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes and extended their lead to 4-1 with a pair of goals less than a minute apart less than two minutes into the second. Former Sudbury forward Alex Assadourian and Valdemeer William Hull, both with their first goals of the season for Niagara, narrowed the gap to 4-3. The teams later exchanged goals as the Wolves took a 5-4 lead before Sudbury rounded out the scoring early in the third.
Kuwabara said the IceDogs aren’t feeling sorry for themselves.
“We stay positive in our room. We have a process to follow, I think we’re getting better,” he said. “Obviously in the offensive zone there are things we can tweak a little bit. We continue to get pucks there and we’re going to get one. It’s only a matter of time.”
Defensively, it’s another story as the club continues to struggle in their own end and have now permitted a league-worst 185 goes and have the worst goal differential at -75.
“I think everybody is trying really hard,” Kuawabara said. “They’re gripping their sticks and they’re maybe making some bad decisions at the wrong time but they’re kids. They’re learning. It’s tough to say they’re pros and doing the right things. All these little things, these guys haven’t had a lot of chance to play together and play last year so it’s tough for them.
“We just have to work through this and stay positive. Focus on the good things. You can’t dwell on some of the stuff that happened in the past, you can only learn from them. We watch video consistently and we try and get better every day. We’re putting the time and the work in — you can see the work ethic — it’s easy to just fold the tent and the score gets run up but our guys have the passion and desire to fight for each other and that’s what we’re doing.”
Ice cubes: Landon Cato, Kevin He (suspended), Andrew Wycisk and Daniel Michaud did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Djibril Toure, Kocha Delic and Quentin Musty were scratched for the Wolves.
Wolves 6 IceDogs 4
Niagara’s Alex Assadourian and Sudbury’s Nick DeGrazia.
Niagara IceDogs: Declan Waddick (12); Alex Assadourian (4); Bronson Ride (2); Valdemar William Hull (1)
Sudbury Wolves: Nick DeGrazia 2 (17, 18); Ethan Larmand (8); Marc Boudreau (5); Dylan Robinson (5); Jakub Chromiak (3).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Kevyn Brassard/Nate Krawchuk (36), by Sudbury on Owen Flores/Josh Rosenzweig (43); Power plays: Niagara 1/4, Sudbury 1/4; Penalty minutes: Niagara 8, Sudbury 8.
Next up: The IceDogs are back at home Thursday against Mississauga and Saturday versus Kingston.
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