IceDogs happy with young D
So far, so good for the Niagara IceDogs’ young defence.
The IceDogs are off to a respectable 3-2-1-1 start and a big reason is the work of their three young rookie rearguards.
Isaac Enright, Landon Cato and import Giancarlo Chanton have all held their own through the first weeks of the Ontario Hockey League season.
“They are all playing big minutes in big situations,” IceDogs head coach Billy Burke said. “So far, I’m very happy with them. They have all kind of come in as advertised.”
Enright, the IceDogs first-round selection in the 2019 OHL draft, is perhaps the most noticeable. He has picked up an assist in seven games and is a minus-2.
“I think we’ll see a future star in Enright,” Burke said.
Cato, who is scoreless in his five games, provides a different skill set.
“Cato is fearless. His skill is underrated and he’s very smart and he’s a great compliment to Enright,” Burke said. “They’re a little bit contrasting styles, but you need both those guys on your team.”
Chanton, a 16-year-old Swiss native, has two assists and is an even 0 plus-minus through his seven games.
“With Chanton, he’s big, smart and steady,” Burke said. “He has good power-play instincts and he can defend. The Swiss national team are very high on and see him as a world junior guy down the road.”
Burke said the IceDogs intend to continue to give all three significant minutes.
“We are definitely going to continue to put these guys in situations and challenge them. As much as we can and as much as they can handle it. We want to run with them.
“So far, they’ve all hit it out of the park. It is early but we’re happy with what we’ve seen and I hope now they continue to make that next step as they continue to get comfortable with everything.”
At the same time, having three 16-year-olds on defence is not without risk.
“Things happen fast. Sometimes they’re not picking up in the D zone as quick as they will when they get a little bit older,” Burke said. “They have to change their games for sure to survive but they are smart guys and they can handle it.
“There are rookie mistakes and they will cost us some goals here and there, bit if we look at the big picture it’s going to pay off.”
The IceDogs are in Kingston Friday and home to North Bay Saturday. The club has not played since last Friday.
“We’ll always take the days off when we can get them,” Burke said. “It was nice for the guys to have the weekend off and recharge. It’s unusual to have a full weekend off between games but it keeps everybody fresh.”
Burke said the IceDogs used the extra time off this week to concentrate on defence at practice.
“In a normal week you sometimes only have two practices before a game and you have to work at it to fit everything in,” Burke said. “Tuesday we really broke down our D-zone coverage and went over a lot of video where we are giving up chances and where we have to clean up. Having that extra day really allowed us to put a big focus on specifically helping our young D and keeping things as simple as possible.”
Goaltender Christian Sbaraglia will served the fifth and final game of his suspension Friday and will be in uniform Saturday, although Burke was unsure at this point if he would start.
Ice cubes: The IceDogs will be honouring two championship St. Catharines Black Hawks teams Saturday prior to the start of the game. Two banners will be unveiled to honour the 1970-1971 and 1973-1974 Black Hawks, who were crowned the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) Major Junior A champions, capturing the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
On the right side of our web site, you will notice a yellow SUPPORT US button.
We are asking anyone who finds value in our work and is able to financially help us to click on the button and contribute whatever amount you feel is appropriate and can afford. There is no set amount. Any amount is appreciated.
The funds collected will be used to enhance and offset the expenses of running the web site.