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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Caputo

Federkow embracing leadership role with hometown IceDogs

Brandon Caputo

Credit: Vivid Eye Photography

Defenseman Connor Federkow spent most Ontario Hockey League (OHL) career with the London Knights but the St. Catharines, Ontario native is happy to be back home playing in front of his friends and family, for his overage season in junior hockey.

Federkow brings natural leadership by example and a wealth of experience to a young team trying to learn what it takes to get a team to the playoffs, having gone to the OHL Championship Series with London as Western Conference Champion just this past season.

Leadership By Example

Credit: Vivid Eye Photography

The former Niagara North Star standout and third round pick of the London Knights in 2019 has accumulated a trio of assists through 18 contests with his hometown Niagara IceDogs but as Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says, Connor has brought so much more to the team than even the coaching staff had anticipated.

"With Connor's game you expected the warrior and gamer in him, he blocks a ton of shots. I didn't expect him to be so good with the puck, he's a selfless teammate, and does things in our structure that we didn't expect but he's done it very well in all aspects" said Shaw.

The IceDogs Assistant Coach went on to say that Connor's real impact is one that will not show up on a scoresheet. "Connor leads by example in every game with how hard he works, how he puts his body on the line, how he's willing to play physical, and as a utility man for us whenever needed on forward or defense."

Shaw concluded with emphasizing that Connor's work ethic and selflessness has rubbed off on his teammates for how the coaching staff wants them to play. "It's important for other players to see guys that are willing to lay it all out on the line and guys who do that because that's what pushes you over whole group the edge."

"Hockey is a contact sport; anytime people are out of their seats other than for goals it's for big hits, blocks and Connor does a lot of that" Shaw said emphatically. "Connor is invaluable on our penalty kill and he brings it out in the other guys too because when you see an overage player going out and sacrificing themselves like that, the expectation is that you are to do that yourself. He is the definition of a player who leads by example."

It's Good To Be Home

Credit: Vivid Eye Photography

Being from the Niagara Region, Federkow can't help but reflect on his time in minor hockey with the Niagara North Stars, which led to him being a third round pick in the Ontario Hockey League draft by London in 2019

"It was huge, I grew up on playing with all the same guys so it made it a lot easier playing with the North Stars. Those guys are still my brothers to this day, they definitely helped me a lot in order to become the player I am now and the coaching staff motivated and pushed me to be the best I could be, which helped me get to the success I've had at the OHL level."

Federkow said that it was mixed emotions after the initial trade news, having spent his entire OHL career in one place but with it being Niagara it was the best case scenario to come home. "It was weird at first hearing the news, being in and around the London organization the last four years, but I was definitely excited to come back home. My mom and I were just talking about it the other day that I haven't been home for a winter break in awhile so it's definitely nice to be around my friends and family, getting to play in front of them" said Federkow with a big smile on his face.

Federkow, a Western Conference Champion with the London Knights last season, wants his new teammates to experience that same kind of success and feeling here in Niagara one day, having learned so much from the Hunter's successful program in London that he's instilled into his own game.

"London system shows you how to play the game right. If you do that you'll become the best version of you as a hockey player" said Federkow. "How they play definitely improves your individual game as a player because of how demanding and structured it is and it shows with the success they've had through the years" Federkow said, as he reminisced on his experiences there. "That playoff run I had with London last year was the unbelievable feeling I've ever had as a hockey player so obviously I want all of these guys to experience that one day as well here in Niagara.

Reunited With An Old Friend

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The Niagara IceDogs have processed four trades with the London Knights already this season, including for the aforementioned Federkow, but the most recent deal was a special one for Connor as he welcomed one of his long lost London pals to Niagara in forward Brody Crane.

"It's been awesome having Brody come in, we go way back to our GOJHL Komoka Kings days during COVID and then we started playing together when I got moved up to the forward position in London" said Federkow. "When I heard the news that we were trading for him and bringing him over here it felt great to know that one of my good buddies was on his way."

"He can literally play any position you ask him to, he'll hit anything that moves (even though he's not that big), he can generate offense, and has deceptive skill to put the puck in the net that you would not expect from a bruising guy like him" Crane said jokingly in describing his good friend Federkow's impact on the ice.

Crane said that Federkow was the first person he called after hearing the trade news. "When I was on my way here to Niagara after being traded he was the first guy that I called on the trip down here. Seeing him made things a lot easier of a transition for me. London is a hard place to play, so we went through a lot of ups and downs together with a couple of deep playoff runs shoulder to shoulder" Crane emphasized.

"The one thing about Connor is that he's always a happy and positive guy, always has that smile on his face, and he's always driving me home from the rink everyday" Crane made it a point to mention. "We've got a pretty tight bond and I'm really happy to be reunited with him again here in Niagara."

Federkow echoed those same thoughts from Crane as far as the bond they built during their time together with the Knights and looks forward to rekindling that for the IceDogs. "I was really excited when he gave me that initial call after the trade, I could hear him in the car and said he was on his way so we were both fired up for that. I can't wait for him to get back in the lineup and show what he can do, he's going to bring a lot to this IceDogs team and I'm super excited to be passing the puck up to him on the ice."

An "A" For Effort

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In closing, Federkow just wants his teammates to learn as much from him as they can in his final year of junior hockey. "I just want what's best for these guys, they're my new brothers and I'll do whatever it takes to help them grow here with this organization" Federkow said passionately. "Having the "A" on my chest has been amazing, it feels good, and I always remember to tell myself that the younger guys are looking up to me so I have to be my best on and off the ice to show them the way."

Paying it forward is Federkow's goal for the young players who will be here building the culture in his home of Niagara for years to come. "I want to show them good sportsmanship and just about being united as a group. This is all about learning, having fun, and being out there in the community. I'm always going to be here for them to show them the way, as I was taught as a young player myself on how to play the right way and how to treat each other on and off the ice as teammates" Federkow said in closing.




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