IceDogs score early and often
IceDogs rookie Billy Costantinou scored his first OHL goal Friday. PHOTO BY: OHL IMAGES
The Niagara IceDogs finally solved the Sudbury Wolves.
After dropping three games to the Wolves earlier this season, the IceDogs struck early and often en route to a 7-4 victory in Ontario Hockey League action Friday in Sudbury.
The win was the second straight in as many nights for Niagara which improved to 18-11-3-2.
The Wolves bring up the rear of the Eastern Conference with a 10-21-5 mark.
“We really didn’t mention our previous games against them,” Niagara coach Billy Burke said. “What we did tell them was that there is a false misconception that Sudbury is a slow, bad team. We wanted to make sure the guys knew they are not. They are a fast team, a hard-working team, and they’re in almost every game they play and if you take any team for granted, they will absolutely beat you.
“I think the guys maybe gave them the respect they deserve.”
Niagara jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Ben Jones, Billy Costantinou and Johnny Corneil. The goal for Constantinou was the rookie’s first OHL marker.
“It’s nice to play the whole game with the lead. It’s better than coming from behind,” Burke said. “There were some lapses in the third because of the score but the guys battled back and scored a few of their own to make sure we had a little bit of a cushion.”
Kirill Maksimov upped Niagara’s lead to 4-0 with his team-leading 22nd of the season early in the second. The Wolves responded less than a minute later when Anthony Tabak got Sudbury on the board. Niagara’s Danial Singer rounded out the scoring in the second with a power-play marker, his 14th of the season, eclipsing his total from last season when he netted 13 in 65 games as a rookie.
That set the stage for a wild third period that saw the Wolves outscore the IceDogs 3-2 and make things interesting down the stretch until Singer scored into an empty net. Akil Thomas also scored for Niagara while Emmett Serensits, Ryan O’Bonsawin and Drake Pilon replied for the Wolves.
The game marked the official halfway point of the season for the IceDogs.
Burke can’t believe how quickly the time has gone in his first season as head coach.
“The weeks definitely fly by. I have this little calendar on my desk and I usually put a marker September 19 (first game). It’s a reminder the year flies by. I can’t believe Christmas is over and before we know it, we’ll be into March and the playoffs.”
Niagara plays host to the Hamilton Bulldogs New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. at the Meridian Centre.
Burke is anxious to see how the IceDogs stack up against the top team in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m really looking forward to Hamilton,” he said. “They’re bringing in every 19-year-old in the league so good for them. It’s good for the league and the rivalry, it’s going to be a huge test for us and a good measuring stick.”