IceDogs split rare back-to-back vs Wolves this weekend
Updated: Mar 27
Kyle Akitt (@JustKyle51)
Brandon Caputo (@Caputz13_AGM)
Photo Credit: vivieyephotography
Saturday, March 19th, 2022 - Game #1
After a tough loss on Thursday and no luck of the Irish on their side being St. Patricks Day, the IceDogs found themselves back at the Meridian Centre for a home matchup Saturday Night against the Sudbury Wolves.
The Wolves sit right in front of Niagara in the standings, chasing the Peterborough Petes for the final playoff spot. The IceDogs currently have the higher hill to climb sitting at 17 points back before this game and Sudbury only 7, so Niagara looked to take advantage of this back-to-back matchup that would see both on home ice. The IceDogs will be beginning a big 5 game home stand with 3 out of the 5 matchups against Sudbury and the 8th place Peterborough Petes. If the IceDogs were to make any sort of attempt at chasing that last spot, these would be the games to really set the tone in the final chase. The IceDogs would finally have a 90% healthy lineup going into tonight's matchup, with only Cameron Peters still recovering from injury and defenceman Rodwin Dionicio serving a suspension. Back in the lineup and ready to make an impact was recent Dog Pound Podcast guest and 2020 2nd Overall Draft Pick Pano Fimis, who missed quite some time with an injury.
STARTING LINEUP: (LW) Danil Gushchin (C) Dylan Roobroeck (RW) Aidan Castle (D) Isaa Enright (D) Dakota Betts (G) Josh Rosenzweig
A very hectic start to the first period to say the least in this one. The first 3 shots of the game would result in goals for both teams. Unfortunately for the IceDogs, two would favour the Sudbury Wolves and would take an early 2 goal lead. After both teams finally got it together defensively, a very good back and forth matchup would commence for the rest of the period seeing both teams traded scoring chances. It would eventually lead to the IceDogs capitalizing on one of those chances as defencemen Isaac Enright would score his 3rd of the year receiving a one-timer pass to tie the game at two a piece.
It would be the veteran and overage forward Liam Van Loon who would end the period in a big way for the IceDogs. A beautiful play set up by forward Daniel Michaud would lead to Van Loon scoring his 15th of the season and sending the IceDogs into the 2nd period with a 3-2 lead.
The Wolves would take early advantage of the IceDogs to start the second period as a bad penalty taken by defencemen Isaac Enright would lead to a powerplay goal by defenceman Nolan Collins. Shortly after, with the momentum in hand, forward Alex Assadourian would score on a scramble in front of goaltender Josh Rosenzweig to give Sudbury the lead in the game at 4-3.
The IceDogs would continue to fight back as the period went on and almost scoring on a few chances but coming up short and unluckily hitting the post on a few occasions. The Wolves would take advantage of the IceDogs not scoring on those chances with forward Nick DeGrazia scoring to give Sudbury a 2-goal lead late in the period.
Both teams would start to get physical as the period was coming to an end with the tension building. Danil Gushchin would take a cheap hit from Ethan Larmand of the Sudbury Wolves that would lead to him receiving a 5-minute game misconduct and Danil Gushchin leaving the ice in quite some discomfort. IceDogs defencemen Landon Cato would come to his teammate's defence with a fight against Larmand and would get a 2 minute instigation penalty. This would lead to the 3rd period carrying over with some 4 on 4 action for the first two minutes and lead to a 3 minute Niagara IceDogs Powerplay, as a result of the post-whistle conflict.
Beginning the third period with a total of 7 minutes on the powerplay would prove not in the IceDogs favour as they struggled to put any goals up on the scoreboard in all that eluted time. The pace would begin to pick up from the Wolves as the IceDogs battled hard to get back into this game. Brice Cook would score midway through the 3rd period to give Niagara some glimpse of hope in this one.
With second ticking off the clock and the goalie pulled with 2 minutes left in this contest, the IceDogs hemmed the Wolves into their own zone and after some deflections in from of the net, returning back from his injury hiatus, Pano Fimis with pot a loose puck into the net to tie the game and the Meridian Center fans would come unglued at this point, something not heard in a LONG time due to the pandemic and fan restrictions (just over 4000 fans in attendance this game).
The extra frame would be very interesting to say the least. The IceDogs would get very close at ending the game but on a rush the other way by star rookie David Goyette making contact with IceDogs goalie Josh Rosenzweig leads to an open net tap in for the Wolves. After a controversial non call for goalie interference with both teams having already used their coach's challenge, the Sudbury Wolves would be deemed victorious in the game 6-5 in overtime.
JERSEY HOUSE PLAYER OF THE GAME: #19 Pano Fimis
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography
Sunday, March 20th, 2022 - Game #2
After a crazy end to the last game, the IceDogs were back not even 14 hours later on the ice to seek revenge against the Sudbury Wolves. With a quick turnaround, both teams will definitely need their second wind and especially for the IceDogs who are in need of the win against the Wolves.
Back into the IceDogs lineup would be rookie and 12th round draft pick in the 2020 OHL draft Lucas Littlejohn, who has had a very good showing in his rookie campaign so far. In the 10 games with the Niagara IceDogs, he has 3 goals with the team and with his OJHL team (Pickering Panthers) in 40 games with 2 goals and 10 assists. The IceDogs would come out with the same lineup as the night previous with the attempt of having a better game and more consistent.
STARTING LINEUP: (LW) Juan Copeland (C) Pano Fimis (RW) Brice Cooke (D) Isaac Enright (D) Dakota Betts (G) Josh Rosenzweig
The pace would continue in this second half of the back to back between these two teams with both teams coming very close offensively to hour their team up early. As the period went on, the frustrations from the game prior would show with both teams becoming very physical. Sudbury would break the scoreless game with 7 minutes to go in the period, on the powerplay, forward Marc Boudreau tipped in a shot from Dallas Stars prospect Jacob Holmes.
The IceDogs struggled to start the period on time with the Wolves pressuring them offensively and almost scoring to put this game out of reach. It would be San Jose Sharks prospect Danil Gushchin to get the IceDogs on the board, scoring his team-leading 36th goal of the season.
The rest of the period would be very uneventful until the end of the period and as the pace began to pick up for both teams, veteran and overager Liam Van Loon would be sent on a breakaway and scored to tie the game at 2 with his 16th goal of the season. Unfortunately, it would only take less than 30 seconds for the Wolves to respond as forward Marc Boudreau would score his 2nd of the game and regained the lead.
Not much action in the final stanza other than rookie forward Brice Cooke getting his 15th goal of the season to tie the game 3-3, as he continues to mould his all-around game into a consistent OHL'er and a player that Niagara should be excited about going into 2022-23. Close chances in the final moments for both teams but both goaltenders stand strong.
Overtime did not solve anything but star forward Danil Gushchin would have plenty of shooting opportunities with the game on his stick, but just not able to find the back of the net as he was looking for another multi-goal game this season. We would go to a shootout and both Weekes and Rosenzweig would put on a clinic in the net, keeping their teams alive for the 2 points. It would ultimately be IceDogs rookie Aidan Castle who would break the stalemate after many unsuccessful attempts. Josh Rosenzweig would be the star between the pipes once again would shut the door for to secure the victory and send the ruckus Merdian Centre crowd home happy.
Niagara would pick up 3 of a possible 4 points against Sudbury in the back-to-back and now improve to 4-1-1 vs the Wolves this season, with 2 meetings left to go back in Sudbury down the stretch. The IceDogs will look ahead to another busy week coming up with home games vs Peterborough, Erie, and Barrie before finishing off a 4-game week in Erie for a Sunday afternoon matinee.
JERSEY HOUSE PLAYER OF THE GAME: #34 Josh Rosenzweig
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography