FEELS GOOD TO BE HOME
Written by: Kyle Akitt (@JustKyle51)
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The Niagara IceDogs kicked off their regular season Home Opener against the Oshawa Generals by welcoming back fans into the Meridian Centre. Announced yesterday from the Ontario Government that all arenas in Ontario will allow full capacity in the arenas with proof of vaccination required to enter. This is great news for IceDogs fans as they have been very eager to return and cheer on the team at home.
There is a lot of anticipation for this IceDogs season this year with the double-crop of rookies coming into the team from the past 2 OHL Drafts, headed by 2020 2nd Overall Pick Pano Fimis, who will be making his IceDogs season home debut along with the rest of the players drafted on the team. It did not take long for IceDog fans to be impressed with Pano as he was able to score and record his first career OHL goal in the IceDogs first regular-season game, where the IceDogs won 4-1 over the Barrie Colts. Also making their debut in a way is Cam Butler, who will now dawn the “C” for IceDogs as the new captain. Butler had an impressive showing the last time the IceDogs hit the ice, acquiring him in the Akil Thomas trade from the Peterborough Petes.
ICEDOGS STARTING LINEUP: Jake Uberti (Center), Brice Cooke (Left Wing), Cameron Butler (Right Wing), Dakota Betts (Defense), Landon Cato (Defense), Tucker Tynan (Starting Goalie)
IceDogs dawning the new 3rd jerseys for the home opener tonight, looking very slick in the new black uniforms. IceDogs out of the gate looked great moving the puck and creating some offensive scoring chances. Tucker Tynan looked great between the pipes early on, coming up with some big saves on a few Generals scoring chances.
As the period went on, the score continued to stay at 0-0 and that’s how we would end but not without excitement as the IceDogs created a ton of scoring chances on the powerplay but couldn’t solve Oshawa Generals goalie Zachary Paputsakis. The shots at the end of the period favoured Oshawa 10-6. The IceDogs look to bounce back in the 2nd period and hopefully get on the scoreboard.
The IceDogs continued the pressure early on in the period to try and get a goal on the board with some good offensive chances and breakouts. One key thing that is very noticeable with the IceDogs is that even for such a new team, the chemistry seems to be showing good signs early on. Although it was the Generals that got on the scoreboard first, on the powerplay, Calum Ritchie scores on a cross-crease pass to put Oshawa up 1-0 around the 12-minute mark of the period.
IceDogs would find themselves in some more penalty trouble as Jake Uberti went off for a hooking call. Luckily they were able to kill the penalty and at this point, you can tell the urgency to get on the board began to show in the IceDogs play the rest of the period. The IceDogs got some powerplay luck at the end of the 2nd period as Cam Peters was able to draw a penalty crashing the net.
The IceDogs needed to capitalize on the powerplay to begin the period but ran into some bad luck as IceDogs defensemen Rodwin Dionicio goes off for interference after trying to stop a breakaway from the Generals. Things went from bad to worse it seemed as a big scramble after the whistle play led to Dakota Betts and Landon Cato receiving coincidental penalties with Oshawa which meant the IceDogs were without 2 of their veteran defencemen. Around the 15-minute mark of the period, the IceDogs finally get on the scoreboard as Jake Uberti made a nice move into the offensive zone and buried it past Zachary Paputsakis to ties the game at 1. The IceDogs would continue the offensive pressure and producing multiple scoring chances, one coming from Danil Gushchin who pulled a silk move on the Generals defenceman but could not find the back of the net.
At 8:23, the IceDogs received a prayer from the hockey gods as a floating-point shot from Isaac Enright finds its way in the net and the dogs get their first lead of the game at 2-1. Oshawa would not count themselves out as right from puck drop they were all over the IceDogs, which ended up in a Powerplay for the Generals and Daniel Michaud connected on a slapshot to tie the game at 2. A thrilling end to the period followed with chances going both ways. This game would need overtime and possibly a shootout to solve it.
To say overtime was exciting would be an understatement. Both teams traded scoring chances but the IceDogs coming away with the most but became unsuccessful in trying to get the puck in the net. 28 seconds left in the period turned worse for the dogs as Dakota Betts took a holding penalty but the dogs pulled through with a massive penalty kill and this home opener is going to a shootout.
After an exciting shootout, it was Tynan who shut the door and the IceDogs win the game 3-2.