IceDogs get defensive in Import Draft
The Niagara IceDogs picked up a defenceman they see as an impact player in the 2021 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft Wednesday.
The IceDogs selected 17-year-old rearguard Rodwin Dionicio from Switzerland with the 18th pick in the first round.
Dionicio is listed at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds and is a left shot.
“He is a guy who does everything well,” IceDogs general manager Joey Burke said. “He has a ton of offence to his game and is incredibly responsible defensively. He’s mean, physical and hits with impact.
“This is a guy coming over with far better numbers even than (Giancarlo) Chanton did, both coming from Switzerland. He’s got the pedigree.”
Dionicio was the only underage player on the Swiss U18 team this year.
“He did a great job,” Burke said. “We were able to watch a ton of video of him playing against the top 03s in Canada and holding his own.
“He is the exact guy we were targeting and we couldn’t be more excited to bring him in.”
Burke confirmed Dionicio is committed to the IceDogs.
“We’ve spoken already. This is where he wanted to be. We have a great relationship with the agency and he’s thrilled. He 100 per cent will be here from Day 1 this year,” Burke said.
Burke feels Dionicio has the skill set to step right into the lineup.
“We know the kind of talent that’s coming in and we expect he’ll be able to come in and be an impact guy on the back end, ideally really quick,” Burke said. “We certainly want him to come in and be an everyday guy and make an impact. Anytime you have a European you want to get him on the ice with your guys and see how they match up.”
The IceDogs intend to dress Dionicio and forward Danil Gushchin (2020 import draft) as their two imports this season.
“We fully expect to have Gushchin and the plan would be to have those two,” Burke said.
Gushchin is signed by San Jose. If he doesn’t make San Jose or isn’t assigned to the American League, he would then come to the IceDogs.
The IceDogs also selected 18-year-old forward Alex Graham with the second pick (105th overall) of the second round.
“They are understanding that we like him and see him as a fit here, but if and when if Gushchin is returned to us, then we will have to move on,” Burke said.
Graham played last season with the Sheffield Steelers of Elite Ice Hockey League in England.
“He is very, very comparable to Liam Kirk who came over and was a tremendous player for Peterborough. He is a high-end goal scorer who has been playing with men,” Burke said. “He is a guy we would have a ton of interest in next year if it goes that way. If, for any reason Gushchin is not returned to us, then we’re thrilled to have him here.”
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