One Hull of an effort (Updated with loss at Oshawa Monday)
Valdemar William Hull did a little showing off for his parents Sunday.
With dad Douglas and mom Karina in Niagara on a 10-day visit from Switzerland, the 18-year-old Swiss forward scored a pair of goals to pace the Niagara IceDogs past the Sudbury Wolves 6-2 in Ontario Hockey League action at Meridian Centre.
Hull netted his first of the game on a breakaway following an egregious giveaway at the Sudbury blueline before banking a shot off the boards into an empty net with the Wolves pulling out all the stops in an attempt to get back in game late in the third.
“It feels amazing,” said Hull, whose first OHL goal came versus the Wolves last month. “I haven’t seen my parents in a long time, ever since Christmas. My mom hasn’t seen me play regular season so it was really nice having them in the building.”
Hull was thrilled to succeed in a game that saw the IceDogs come out on top.
“Scoring goals is great but we won this game, we really needed this. Now we have to build on this. I think that’s the most important thing,” he said.
Hull was selected by the Mississauga Steelheads in the 2022 OHL Import Draft and picked up by Niagara on waivers earlier this season.
“It was pretty hard at the beginning,” Hull said of his transition to North America. “It takes some getting used to but I chose to come here, to sacrifice to have a chance to go pro in hockey.
“I’m really lucky with my billet family. They’re great people. They’re like parents to me so it’s like my home away from home.”
Hull cited the smaller rinks and more physical nature of the OHL as two big adjustments he has had to deal with as well as managing himself off the ice as well.
“Off the ice I would say it’s self-discipline. I need to manage my sleep and what I eat. It’s more professional life,” he said. “I miss the food back home, especially my mom’s food, but my billets make great food. They are pretty good Italian cooks.”
Niagara coach Ryan Kuwabara gave props to Hull, who is among the most popular players in the dressing room.
“I was happy for him to have a great game like that,” Kuwabara said. “I was excited to see that for him.
“He played a great game.”
The IceDogs, coming off an overtime loss in Mississauga Friday, trailed 2-1 after one period before Hull tied the game seven minutes into the second. Three minutes later Declan Waddick, who also netted two goals, scored the eventual game winner on a power wrap-around for his 20th of the season.
Niagara then netted three late goals in the third to ice away their 11th win of the season.
“It’s been a culmination of a lot of hard work,” Kuwabara said. “Like I’ve been saying, they come to the rink, they work hard, they want to learn. Today was the day, we’re trying to get one per cent better every day.
“It’s exciting for the guys to see the fruits of all their hard work.”
The IceDogs looked tentative for a time in the third nursing a one-goal lead.
“I thought our first two periods we gave up too many shots inside the house area and told the guys we have to dial in even more on those details we’ve been working on,” Kuwabara said. “(I told them) you guys have to execute and we went out and did a really good job.”
Niagara netminder Owen Flores had another solid game in goal with 49 saves, including 15 in the third period.
“I think we got a little lucky at times but they worked hard,” Kuwabara said. “They clogged up the middle and kept everything to the outside. That’s part of a six-on-five. You know they’re going to throw pucks at the net and try and hammer away so as long as we’re in the shot lanes and not giving them clear shots, I think we’re doing a great job.”
The IceDogs netted a pair of power-play goals in seven chances.
“Sometimes we’re dialled in but without DJ (David Jesus) back there it changes everything,” Kuwabara said. “We have to put new guys in back there and sometimes they’re not used to playing there and aren’t comfortable. It took maybe a couple of times to get it right and we got one when it mattered most.”
Gens 10 IceDogs 7
The IceDogs followed up Sunday’s win with a 10-7 loss at Oshawa Monday afternoon.
The Gens led 5-4 after two periods and built the lead to 8-4 before the IceDogs narrowed the gap to 8-7. Oshawa then potted a pair of late goals to put the game away.
Zak Lavoie paced the IceDogs with three goals and three assists while Kevin He added two. Daniel Michaud and Andrew LeBlanc also scored.
Josh Rosenzweig permitted six goals on 30 shots in net while Flores gave up three goals on eight shots.
“I think the positives were that the players didn’t quit. They continued to play hard and push the pace to get back into the game,” Kuwabara said.
Ice cubes: Landon Cato (upper body), Gerard Keane (broken wrist), Anthony Agostinelli (concussion) and David Jesus did not dress for the IceDogs . . . Ethan Larmand and Will Bishop were scratched for the Wolves . . . Niagara wore special jerseys for Black History Month designed by former IceDog Akil Thomas . . . The game marked the 1,000th contest for the IceDogs in Niagara.
IceDogs 6 Wolves 2
Niagara’s Valdemar William Hull and Sudbury’s Nathan Villeneuve.
Niagara IceDogs: Declan Waddick 2 (20,21); Valdemar William Hull 2 (2,3); Daniel Michaud (18); Bronson Ride (4).
Sudbury Wolves: Nathan Villeneuve (9); Nicholas Yearwood (1).
Game stats: Shots on goal: By Niagara on Kevyn Brassard (23), by Sudbury on Owen Flores (51); Power plays: Niagara 2/7, Sudbury 0/4; Penalty minutes: Niagara 13, Sudbury 19.
Next up: The IceDogs are home Thursday against Sault Ste. Marie at 7 p.m.
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