IceDogs split first two exhibition games
The Niagara IceDogs wasted little time cutting their training camp roster.
Less than a week into camp, the IceDogs have 24 players remaining after beginning camp with 48.
“This is a team that is obviously trying to build itself back up and the quicker we get to the operating roster, the better off we’ll be and the more time we’ll have to put into place the things we need to be successful,” IceDogs head coach Daniel Fitzgerald said.
The IceDogs have 15 forwards, seven defenceman and two goaltenders remaining and Fitzgerald said the team will likely cut two more forwards before the opener Thursday, Sept. 29 against the Mississauga Steelheads at the Meridian Centre.
“That could change,” he said. “We have a couple of guys going to NHL camps (Pano Fimis with Toronto, Pasquale Zito with Detroit) so it will give guys some opportunities in these two (exhibition) Erie games and maybe we see something more or something different.
“We’re going to use the time we have and take advantage of it.”
Fitzgerald said the staff came into camp with an open mind about the roster.
“There have been some guys that certainly have shown really well. Anthony Agostinelli hasn’t been a surprise — he’s a really good hockey player — but he’s become a bulldog for us and someone I think we can really rely on,” Fitzgerald said. “So far good, but we need to see consistency. It’s nice to be a flash in the pan or on the other side of it, some guys we haven’t seen their best game yet. When are we going to see the consistency?
“It’s going to take time. We’ve only played two games but whoever is going to be consistent for us over the next four exhibition games and heading into the season, those are the guys we’re going to be able to rely on.”
The IceDogs began exhibition play Saturday when they dropped a 6-2 decision at Kitchener as Brenden Sirizzotti and Matthew Papais scored.
Niagara rebounded with a 5-4 victory over the Windsor Spitfires Monday afternoon before a packed Vale Wellness and Community Centre in Port Colborne.
Sirizzotti netted two while Papais, Agostinelli, Brice Cooke, and David Jesus added singles.
Fitzgerald said Monday’s effort was a huge improvement from Saturday.
“We had a very honest conversation as a group this morning about how our play was yesterday,” Fitzgerald said, following the win Monday. “I thought we had some good practice days and we kind of fell off the cliff in Kitchener. Today, the boys responded really well and rose to the challenge the staff gave to them. We saw a lot better details and habits and it showed on the scoreboard.
“We still have some areas we have to clean up and structure we have to put in place, but overall I was pretty happy.”
Fitzgerald is a big believer in the details.
“Obviously, we don’t have all the time in the world to put in every piece of structure in place we want so we’re really harping on the habits and details. We want to see guys who want to get into 50/50 (battles) and win the right ways, get underneath sticks, have strong sticks, first three strides back hard. All stuff if we threw somebody on the ice and gave them no systems, no structure, they still should be able to do it.”
The IceDogs have pre-season games slated for Friday, Sept. 9 versus Erie at the Virgil Meridian Credit Union Arena, Saturday, Sept. 10 versus the Otters at home at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Hamilton at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 22 at home versus the Bulldogs at 7 p.m.
The following players remain in camp:
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