IceDogs rebound in North Bay
Matthew Philip scored a pair of goals as the Niagara IceDogs edged the North Bay Battalion 4-3 Sunday. PHOTO BY: TERRY WILSON/OHL IMAGES
The Niagara IceDogs couldn’t have picked a better time to break out of their slump.
Less than 24 hours following an ugly 6-1 loss in Barrie Saturday night, the IceDogs rebounded with a 4-3 victory over the North Bay Battalion in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon in North Bay.
The win ends an seven-game winless streak for the IceDogs who were last victorious October 19 at home versus Mississauga.
“For sure, especially after the way we played Saturday,” IceDogs head coach Billy Burke said when asked how important it was to get back on the winning track. “We were soft in Barrie and didn’t engage.
“We watched the game again (on video) and it wasn’t pretty.”
Burke said the coaching staff had a long meeting with the players before Sunday’s game.
“We went over some video and called some guys out,” Burke said. “It got uncomfortable and I was hoping the guys would respond and they did.”
Burke said one of the main messages relayed to the players was the need to engage physically.
“We aren’t a No. 1 team in the country that can just show up and before we know it we’re up 1-0,” he said. “We aren’t the biggest team but we need to be hard to play again. We need to have that pesky identity and be difficult to play against. That’s when we are at our best.”
Niagara raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first on goals by Johnny Corneil, Ben Jones and Matthew Philip before the 13-minute mark of the period.
The Battalion battled back with a late goal by Riley Bruce with just over a minute remaining in the period.
Brett McKenzie’s power-play goal eight minutes into the second brought the Battalion back to within one at 3-2 before Philip’s second of the game restored a two-goal lead for Niagara.
Brad Chenier’s goal at 14:39 of the third narrowed the gap back to one at 4-3 to conclude the scoring.
“They got that one back and we hit a couple of posts and it could have gone either way,” Burke said. “It was good to grind out a win and persevere.”
Stephen Dhillon had another solid game with 30 saves to earn the win.
“Stevie was great for us,” Burke said.
Saturday, the IceDogs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on Bradey Johnson’s first OHL goal less than two minutes into the game but were held scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Barrie tied the game late in the first period on a goal by Joey Keane, then went up 3-1 with goals by Jason Willis and Sam Rhodes in the second. Ben Hawerchuk and two more from Willms in the third concluded the scoring.
Dhillon made 26 saves in goal for Niagara.
The IceDogs, 8-6-3-1, return home Thursday versus Kingston and Friday against North Bay.
Defenceman Elijah Roberts (upper body) did not play this weeks. Burke said the mobile rearguard is feeling better but is not sure if he will be cleared to play this week.