Tomasino raring to go
Niagara forward Philip Tomasino. Photo courtesy Niagara IceDogs.
Philip Tomasino is confident he is ready for prime time.
The 17-year-old winger went through the normal growing pains as a rookie last season, but is expected to play on one of the top two forward units for the Niagara IceDogs this season.
“Obviously, I’ll do anything for my team, but I want to be a guy who the coach can depend on to score a key goal and hopefully play a key role,” Tomasino said Wednesday during Day 2 of training camp. “All the guys on the team are really skilled, but when I get a chance to play with any of them, it’s going to be easy.”
IceDogs coach Billy Burke left no doubt how much the coaching staff is expecting from the speedy sophomore.
“He’s another guy who had some growing pains and was eased in at times, but he’s ready to step up,” Burke said. “The pace he plays at, he’ll fit into our top six, for sure.
“He had a real strong showing at the under-18 camp. A lot of people thought he probably should have cracked that team. It was a great experience and he used it as motivation.”
Burke said he’s already notice a difference in Tomasino this season.
“It’s only been one day but his speed — he looks faster — and he looks bigger and stronger. I’m really excited for him.”
Tomasino, who was Niagara’s first round selection (fifth overall) in the 2017 Ontario Hockey League draft, admits he feels far more comfortable as a sophomore compared to a rookie.
“I think knowing a lot of the guys and playing with them for the last year and now playing against them, it’s pretty cool to compare yourself to them,” he said. “There is really good competition out there and I’m used to the style where last year I wasn’t really familiar with a lot of things.”
Tomasino netted five goals and 24 points in 61 games last season while displaying all the gifts — speed, shot and offensive instincts — to give the IceDogs reason to believe he will be a bonafide sniper.
“He’ll play with some veteran guys. We’re still working out the lines and he’ll be playing with some talented players. He’s a finisher and he can make plays,” Burke said. “He has real separation speed. Everything you’re looking for in a modern day player, he’s got it.”
Tomasino said he tried to use his time on the bench and in the stands when he was a healthy scratch to help him prepare for this season.
“I think watching how other guys play and stuff like that,” he said when asked how last season aided his development. “Whether it’s the power play or penalty kill or five-on-five and how guys react in different situations and to be a team player and know your role.
“I think that really prepared me for this year.”
Like virtually any member of the organization, Tomasino can’t help but dream big when asked about the upcoming season.
“Last year we kind of came in and didn’t know what to expect, but this year I know we’ve set our goal to get there (Memorial Cup) and I think we can accomplish it. We have a really good shot. All the boys are really looking forward to it.”
Camp continues Thursday beginning with a pair of inter-squad games at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Cuts are expected after those games and again after the annual Black versus White inter-squad game at 7 p.m.
The IceDogs take on the Erie Otters Friday at 7 p.m. in their first exhibition game.
Tickets are $10. Proceeds from tickets sales will go directly to the Thorold Minor Hockey Association. Tickets can be purchased at the following locations: Snapd.com; Thorold Arena Office (open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m, or by phone: 905-227-1946) or at the Box Office (Day of Game only); DaBomb Bath Co., 59 Front St., open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. 6 p.m, or by phone: 905-680-7334; and, Papa Vince Pizza, 2 Sullivan Ave, open daily, 4 p.m 11 p.m., or by phone: 905-227-9394.
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