IceDogs rally past Wolves
The Niagara IceDogs have struggled killing penalties all season, but came through with flying colours while shorthanded Sunday afternoon at Meridian Centre.
The IceDogs killed off six opportunities without permitting a goal, including a key two-man advantage late in the game, to defeat the Sudbury Wolves 5-3 in Ontario Hockey League action.
The IceDogs, who have been at or near the bottom in penalty killing efficiency all season, managed to keep the Wolves at bay killing off a five-on-three and then another ensuing minor while clinging to a 4-3 lead late in the third period.
“Obviously five-on-threes are dangerous — they hit the inside of the post and we got a break there — but I think we got that break because guys are working so hard,” IceDogs coach Billy Burke said. “Obviously, a lot of things to work on for us but the penalty kill was certainly something we certainly put more emphasis on after the trade deadline and slowly, but surely, we’re getting more of an identity.”
The IceDogs used the momentum from that key penalty kill to score just as they came back to full strength when Anthony Agostinelli netted his sixth of the season to pad the lead to 5-3 with three minutes to play.
“I’m starting not to be surprised by anything with this group,” Burke said. “The trials and tribulations of a young team sometimes, the ups and downs within a game, but I keep trying to tell myself it’s good experience for the guys. Stay calm and whatever happens, happens and keep the positive, keep the confidence high for the guys.”
It was the third win in four games for the IceDogs who still bring up the rear of the overall standings at 13-26-2-1, but moved to within six points of the Wolves and Peterborough Petes who are tied for the eighth and final playoff position with 35 points. The IceDogs also own four games in hand.
“I really think we’ve been building in the right direction for the last six-eight weeks here,” Burke said. “For a lot tonight it looked like it was going to be a tough night for us, but just a great job in character and leadership to find a way to stay positive and pull together and hopefully build on it.”
The Wolves outshot the IceDogs 18-10 in the opening period as each team found the back of the net once.
The IceDogs grabbed a short-lived 2-1 lead early in the second period when rookie Dylan Roobroeck scored on the power play. It was pretty much all Wolves after that as Sudbury outshot Niagara 19-6 and took a 3-2 lead and could have easily had twice that many were in not for another stellar effort by Josh Rosenzweig between the pipes.
“If Rosey wasn’t on his game today that game gets away from us in the second period,” Burke said. “He allowed us to get that 2-1 lead when maybe we didn’t deserve it and then we were able to keep it tied and keep it close and give us an opportunity to spark a comeback and we were able to do that.”
The comeback was ignited by Brendan Sirizzotti’s 10th of the season following a nice breakout pass from Juan Copeland. Rosenzweig also earned an assist on the play, his sixth helper of the year.
Less than a minute later Daniel Michaud scored to put the IceDogs up 4-3. It was Michaud’s ninth of the season. The forward now has 10 points in 16 games with the IceDogs after putting up 11 points in 27 games with the Oshawa Generals before being dealt to Niagara.
Ice cubes: Liam Van Loon (suspension, 4/10), Cam Peters, Issac Enright, Pano Fimis (upper body), Joey Costanzo did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Dylan Robinson and Michael Derbidge were scratched for the Wolves . . . Dakota Betts played in his 100th OHL game . . . Betts and Aidan Castle were shaken up on same shift in second but both returned to the game . . . Burke indicated Costanzo was banged up but it was nothing serious. Boe Piroski served as back up to Rosenzweig.
Niagara’s Danil Gushchin and Sudbury’s Alex Pharand.
IceDogs 5 Wolves 3
Niagara IceDogs: Danil Gushchin (28); Brenden Sirizzotti (10); Daniel Michaud (10); Anthony Agostinelli (6); Dylan Roobroeck (5).
Sudbury Wolves: Alex Pharand 2 (3, 4); Nick DeGrazia (14).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Mitchell Weeks (29), by Sudbury on Josh Rosenzweig (51); Power plays: Niagara 2-for-4, Sudbury 0-for-6; Penalty minutes: Niagara 12, Sudbury 8.
Attendance: 2,795 (sell out at 50 per cent capacity)
Up next: At Oshawa Monday at 2 p.m. Home to North Bay Thursday at 7 p.m.
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 3,900 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated. If you are a business owner, please consider advertising on our site. Our rates are reasonable and we provide plenty of exposure for your business. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.