IceDogs lose in new coach’s debut
It was a new coach and a new system, but the same old result for the Niagara IceDogs Thursday.
Jeff Angelidis made his debut behind the bench for the IceDogs after being named interim coach earlier this week replacing Daniel Fitzgerald and saw his charges turn in a respectable effort, but still drop a 3-2 decision to the Saginaw Spirit in Ontario Hockey League action at the Meridian Centre.
The IceDogs, 4-11-3, have lost four in a row, nine of 10 and sit in 19th place overall.
“Just came to the rink focused,” Angelidis said when asked how he prepared for his debut. “Shawzy (assistant coach Brandon Shaw) did a great job with our pre-scout this morning. We were prepared for this team coming in here. I thought we stuck to our script for probably 50 minutes of the game, but against a good hockey club like that, if you don’t play a complete 60, you let it slip away from you.
“Proud of the effort. Their care-metre was through the roof. These guys care. They’re pretty upset with the loss. It’s frustrating but we’ll find a way.”
Angelidis feels the club doesn’t have the luxury of time to get used to a new coach and new systems.
“From my understanding, there was some systems that were changed frequently over the last three or four weeks here so the new guy shows up and he’s got his new ideas,” he said. “There’s a lot for these young men to process over the last month but we’re in a results-orientated business and we have to find ways to win hockey games. Whether it’s information overload or not, they’re bright young men. They’re in this league for a reason and they have to absorb, adapt and apply the information they’re given.”
Angelidis thinks defence first and overall was pleased with that aspect of the effort.
“I truly believe the next phase of that is minimizing shots on net,” he said. “I’d like to keep it under 25. This hockey club needs defensive posture and structure. There was glimpses of it for 50 minutes but to win hockey games in this league — whether it’s my first game of 400th game — you need to minimize shots and get in lanes and blocks shots. You can’t be giving up 30-35 shots. That’s the next step.”
The IceDogs grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Anthony Agostinelli scored in his first goal of the season after missing the last 12 with an injury.
The Spirit took a quick 2-1 lead with a pair of goals 35 seconds apart in the second before Declan Waddick tied things up at 2-2 late in the period.
Saginaw netted the winner six minutes into the third when Sebastian Gervais scored from the slot.
“I liked that we kept it down to three but you give up a scoring chance from the middle of the slot in a sweet spot like that, that’s what we worked on this week, protecting I call it the kitchen table, right in the middle of the house,” Angelidis said. “You can’t let anybody gravitate to the middle of the ice and get a point black shot from there.
“A missed assignment leads to the game-winning goal. We’ll reset, tweak a few things for tomorrow and go to Guelph and try to capture two points.”
The IceDogs had a golden opportunity to tie the game later in the third when they had a five-on-three power play for a full two minutes but didn’t even come close.
“We haven’t had a ton of time to work on special teams,” Angelidis said. “We don’t make excuses, that’s for sure. We’ve got to get that done. Five on three, you have to score a goal. That was the difference in the game. We probably get a point if we capitalize on that.”
Ice cubes: Evan Klein, Andrew Wycisk and Rodwin Dionicio did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Matthew Jovanovic, Liam Storch, PJ Forgione and Ian Phillips were scratched for Saginaw . . . Niagara’s leading scorer Aidan Castle left the game early in the third after being cut on the face but is likely to play Friday.
Niagara’s Anthony Agostinelli and Saginaw’s Sebastian Gervais.
Spirit 3 IceDogs 2
Niagara IceDogs: Declan Waddick (7); Anthony Agostinelli (1).
Saginaw Spirit: Theo Hill (5); Sebastien Gervais (2); Zayne Parekh (1).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Tristan Lennoux (25), by Saginaw on Owen Flores (34); Power plays: Niagara 0/3, Saginaw 0/2; Penalty minutes: Niagara 8, Saginaw 10.
Next up: The IceDogs are in Guelph Friday and are back home next Friday against Barrie.
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