IceDogs drop third straight
The Niagara IceDogs need to get back to the basics.
The IceDogs dropped a 5-2 decision to the Guelph Storm in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night in St. Catharines for their third loss in as many nights and head coach Daniel Fitzgerald would love to see his charges simplify the game.
“We’re not the Harlem Globetrotters and we can’t pretend that we are,” Fitzgerald said. “We need to grind teams down and put pucks behind heels and be a puck pursuit kind of team. We want the puck but we need to get it off our sticks sometimes to manage the game.
“We’re giving up odd man rushes that should never happen and that’s part of learning who we are and learning our identity and some guys learning who they are.”
The offence, which has been missing in action over the last three games with a combined total of only seven goals, missed at least a half dozen clear cut breakaways Saturday.
“That’s execution,” Fitzgerald said. “A lot of those guys who had breakaways are guys we depend on to score goals. It’s up to them to do their job.
“You’re going to go into funks and have bad stretches but these guys have to work their way out of it. We’re not quitting on them and they’re not quitting on themselves, but we need to demand more execution.”
The IceDogs are now off until Saturday, Oct. 15 when they host the Flint Firebirds and Fitzgerald plans to put the down time to good use.
“Let’s mentally reset first,” he said. “Let’s take advantage of the time off and then we’re going to get back to work. Let’s use those four days of practice to hammer in our identity and make sure there are no questions left when we go into our game against Flint.
“I think we need to solidify our structure and how it matches our identity. For us, we need to cement how we want to play in the offence zone. As much as we want to make slick passes and the extra backdoor pass, we need to be a low to high team that gets dirty goals, that gets to the net, that gets to the hard areas, that gets the second and third chances.”
The rookie head coach said there is no sense of panic during this current tailspin.
“We’ll get there. It’s going to take time. It’s frustrating — we don’t want to lose hockey games, we don’t want to lose three in a row. They’re a good hockey team so it goes to show when you make mistakes, teams like that will make you pay.”
Ice cubes: On the injury front, defenceman Andrew Wycisk is expected back next week while captain Landon Cato continues to be out with an upper body injury. Fitzgerald said the team is still waiting to see how serious the injury is. Andrew LeBlanc is week to week while Anthony Agostinelli is expected back Saturday after taking a stick to the nose Friday . . . Dixon Grimes, Hunter McKenzie, Gavin Grundner, Luka Profaca and Hunter McKnight did not dress for Guelph . . . St. Catharines native Ian Rush made his OHL debut as a linesman . . . Niagara defenceman Rodwin Dionicio was ejected for a check to the head in the second period . . . Fimis and Calum Ritchie were the Impact Players of the Game as selected by Bryony Hawthorn Friday.
Niagara’s Pano Fimis and Guelph’s Braeden Bowman.
Storm 5 IceDogs 2
Niagara IceDogs: Rodwin Dionicio (3); Juan Copeland (2).
Guelph Storm: Danny Zhilkin (3); Sasha Pastujov (2); Jake Karabela (2); Valentin Zhugin (2); Cam Allen (1).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Jacob Oster (27), by Guelph on Josh Rosenzweig (45); Power plays: Niagara 2/3, Guelph 3/7; Penalty minutes: Niagara 15, Guelph 6.
Next up: The IceDogs are home to Flint Saturday, Oct. 15th.
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 4,500 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact email@example.com for more information.