IceDogs notebook: Enright, Cato sign deals: GM issues apology; Tomasino excels.
The Niagara IceDogs have inked defenceman Issac Enright to a standard player agreement.
It didn’t take long for the Niagara IceDogs to lock up their first-round pick from the 2019 Ontario Priority Selection.
The IceDogs have signed defenceman Isaac Enright to a standard player agreement after selecting him 17th overall in the draft earlier this month.
Enright finished the 2018-2019 season with the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Canadian Central Hockey League following a successful minor midget AAA season in Pembroke.
“This is an extremely exciting day for Niagara IceDogs hockey,” Niagara general manager Joey Burke said. “Isaac is a player we never expected to be there for us at 17th overall, and we couldn’t have been happier he was. This signing starts the process of immediately rebuilding our back end, and gives us one of the best, most complete 2003-born defenceman in the country. Isaac is a player who is as smart as they come. He combines quick decision making abilities with excellent feet, work ethic and all the tools to succeed at our level.
“Isaac has great character off the ice and I know this is a great fit for us here in Niagara.”
Enright, a 16-year-old, 170-pound defeneman, showed his offensive capabilities with 28 points over 41 games, while steadily defending his team to an HEO (Hockey Eastern Ontario) championship. He also represented Ontario at the Canada Winter Games this past February.
Enright, who will be representing Team HEO at the upcoming OHL Gold Cup, says he’s, “Very excited to officially be part of the IceDogs family. Can’t wait to see what the future has in store.”
The IceDogs also inked defenceman Landon Cato to a deal. The 6-foot-2 defenceman played the 2018-2019 season with the Toronto Nationals. Cato had previously verbally committed to play at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, beginning in the 2021-2022 season.
“This is a very exciting signing,” Burke said. “Landon is one of the most physically OHL ready players in his draft year that I have ever scouted. Landon combines his strength and size with power and grit. He plays a mean, shut down game and is very hard to beat. He hits with impact, has an absolute cannon from the point, and is very smooth with the puck on his stick.
“This is a guy who does everything well and who is going to fit in great here. I could not be more thrilled to make this signing official.”
Cato was selected in the third round of the 2019 draft.
Cato, who will be representing Team GTHL (Greater Toronto Hockey League) Blue at the upcoming OHL Gold Cup, said, “I am extremely excited to join the Niagara IceDogs and am looking forward to being a major contributor to the teams future success.”
It’s no secret the IceDogs bowed out of the playoffs far sooner than they, or most anyone else, expected them to.
The sting of losing no doubt cut deep throughout the organization, so much so general manager Joey Burke took the unusual step of writing an apology letter recently.
“We had such high expectations, not just internally, but in the fan base all well, so I just felt that we were all in it together,” Burke said. “I wanted to address the fans to let them know there was a reason behind it. I wanted to make sure we just didn’t go quiet and have a disappointing year.
“I wanted to make sure I owned it and acknowledged it, but at the same time we’ve created something pretty special here and we’re going to be back sooner rather than later and we have some exciting times ahead.”
“It brings me much pain to write this note to the greatest fans in the OHL, but I want to start by saying, we will be back.
There is no doubt about it, this one stings. It stings for every single one of you who pours your heart out for this team night in, night out. It stings for every staff member who works long hours all season long to contribute to the success of this team every year. It stings for every player who worked their absolute hardest in pursuit of junior hockey’s greatest accomplishment and fell short. Lastly, and perhaps mostly, it stings for myself, my brother and our family, as we feel we have let you down.
This past week and a half, since our exit, at the hands of a very talented Oshawa team have been the most trying of my career, and from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. I am sorry that this season didn’t end the way we had hoped, but what I will never be sorry for is trying and failing. I would much rather look back knowing we did everything we could to give ourselves a chance to be champions, then to go ‘half in’ and wonder ‘what if’. I know in my heart we did that, and that is what Niagara IceDogs Hockey is. We will not be mediocre, our fans deserve more.
I am proud that this year’s team won our Second Central Division Championship in our 12-year history, I am proud of the scoring titles we won and the franchise records we set. Most importantly, I am proud of the amazing support the great fans in the Niagara region show this organization every game, every year.
Every season we strive to provide a winning culture for our athletes, and to be an organization that players want to be a part of. There is no doubt in my mind that we are at the top of the league in this regard and this is what we are defined by, as an organization. We are not, and will not be defined by seven days in April. It is this championship striving culture that leads to my excitement for the future, and I assure you, now is the time to be excited again.
With our elite 2019 draft class, our deep prospect pool of players, our upcoming player signings, and our bonafide league stars who will be returning, 2019-20 is set to be an extremely exciting year for the Niagara IceDogs, and we cannot wait for the puck to drop in September.
I cannot thank you all enough for your continued support, you are the life-blood of this team and the reason we can continue to strive for greatness. I promise you we will be back, so get ready!
Go Dogs Go.
TOMASINO PERFORMS WELL
IceDogs forward Philip Tomasino accorded himself well at the 2019 under-18 men’s hockey championship.
Tomasino had a goal and five assists for six points as was a plus-3 in six games for Canada.
Canada dropped a 5-2 decision to the United States in the bronze-medal game.
Tomasino had a strong sophomore season with the IceDogs, collecting 34 goals and 72 points and was a plus-37.
The speedy winger is ranked 14th among North American skaters by National Hockey League Central Scouting for the upcoming NHL draft.
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