IceDogs rally past Battalion
Stephen Dhillon made 44 saves as the Niagara IceDogs prevailed in North Bay Thursday. PHOTO BY: OHL IMAGES
Stephen Dhillon came through once again for the Niagara IceDogs.
The veteran goaltender kicked out a whopping 44 shots as the IceDogs edged the North Bay Battalion 3-2 in overtime in Ontario Hockey League action Thursday in North Bay.
“When we need him to make a big save, he’s right there for us,” IceDogs head coach Billy Burke said. “When your No. 1 goalie has that confidence, it breathes through the whole team.
“He’s our best player for sure and he made some big saves for us tonight.”
Dhillon was solid from start to finish, but was especially sharp as the game went on, kicking out 15 shots in the second period and 17 more in the third.
Dhillon’s heroics allowed the IceDogs to rally from a 2-0 deficit after two periods to tie the game at 2-2 after regulation.
“North Bay is very stingy; they don’t give up very much,” Burke said. “It’s not too often they give up two-goal leads in the third period.”
Following a scoreless first period, the Battalion took a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals in the second by Brett McKenzie and Andy Baker.
Niagara began its comeback with an early goal by Andrew Bruder six minutes into the third, then tied it when Liam Ham scored a short-handed goal with under two minutes to play.
Kirill Maksimov then completed the comeback with his 21st of the season 51 seconds into OT.
“It shows the great character and heart of these guys that they never quit,” Burke said. “To be honest, we were pretty confident after the second period. We thought we were playing pretty well, but we needed to get dirtier and that showed in the third.”
The game was the first for the IceDogs since they dropped a 5-3 decision to Barrie Dec. 16 before the Christmas break.
“We practised Thursday and I thought the guys were good,” Burke said. “We carried the play in the first period, but there were times where guys who usually put it right on the tape were putting it in the skates.
“There was definitely a little bit of rust. You can practise all day long, but it’s never going to match the intensity of the game.”
The IceDogs are in Sudbury Friday and Burke said Dhillon will likely get the start again. Niagara then plays host to the Hamilton Bulldogs New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. at the Meridian Centre.