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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Caputo

IceDogs welcome draftees for 2023 Orientation Camp

Brandon Caputo


The Niagara IceDogs hosted their Rookie Orientation Camp on Saturday from the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Complex in St. Catharines.

The camp consisted of current roster players, selections from both the 2022 and 2023 draft classes, along with local camp invitees. Current IceDogs players who attended included star rookie forward Kevin He (who tied Akil Thomas’ rookie record for goals as a 16-year-old with 21), forward William Stewart, defenseman Gabriel Runco, and callup goaltender Charlie Burns.

Rookies in attendance included the IceDogs recently signed 2023 1st round selections Ryan Roobroeck and Ethan Czata, 2nd round selection Artem Frolov, and 4th round selection Ivan Galiyanov.

The day consisted of two 60-minute games, split in half for 30-minute increments before taking a small intermission in the middle. Along with the games, the players participated in an Education Seminar with the team’s Academic Advisor Tim Tope. The teams then finished off the day by taking a tour through the Meridian Centre and the IceDogs facility, including a dressing room tour.

Teams were manned behind the bench by head coach Ryan Kuwabara, who spent most of his time switching between benches and giving pointers throughout the games, as well as assistant coaches Brandon Shaw, Damon Racicot, and alliance scout Bryan Drury, who provides many years of coaching experience as well.

Game Statistics

Game 1: Team White 7, Team Red 4

Game 2: Team White 4, Team Red 6

Team White Goals: Spencer Vandenberg (3), Ryan Roobroeck (2), William Stewart (2), Douglas Mitchell (2), Artem Frolov, Rafek Dianov.

Team Red Goals: Kevin He (3), Ethan Czata, Ivan Galiyanov, Oscar Wu, Eric He, Juan Agromayer, Evan Lachiema

Game Notes

In Game 1, it was 2nd overall pick Ryan Roobroeck who asserted his presence early as he scored the opening goal of camp, while also using his vision to set up a pair of gorgeous redirection goals by Artem Frolov and William Stewart. Roobroeck also capped it off with the empty net goal.

Spencer Vandenberg was a pleasant surprise as the St. Thomas Stars forward contributed a trio of goals between the two games and was an offensive threat the entire day around the net.

Ethan Czata, the ladder of the IceDogs first round selections took a big check in the open ice during Game 1 from Andrew Giljanovic and was shaken up as a result. The 5th overall pick responded in Game 2 by scoring a goal and playing with an edge, finishing checks and playing a physical 200-foot game, responding nicely after going through adversity in the opening game.

Douglas Mitchell, the team’s 7th round selection in 2023 added a goal in each of the games, with the North York Ranger forward showing some promise in the offensive zone on the day.

Star rookie Kevin He did his best to find teammates during the camp but took over when needed as he potted three goals and recorded a hat trick in Game 2, using his speed as a major threat. Younger brother and 8th round selection Eric added a goal in the opener and saw some ice-time with older brother, contributing as a sibling duo.

2nd round selection Artem Frolov added a goal off a perfect saucer pass from Ryan Roobroeck but also showed why his speed will be one of his assets at the OHL level, as the talented former Vaughan King defenseman impressed during the day with his ability to pursue offensive puck carriers and move pucks up the ice in transition.

IceDogs 1st round selection from the U-18 Draft Andrew Artenosi was also in attendance and did his best to fend off the skilled forwards on Team Red, making a nice defensive play with a stick check on Ryan Roobroeck while he was on a partial breakaway during Game 1. The Richmond Hill Coyote defenseman looked responsible as a stay-at-home shutdown type of defender.

IceDogs current forward William Stewart scored a goal in each of the games, showing good chemistry with newly drafted Ryan Roobroeck and asserted himself physically as a 6'4 player who can be hard to knock the puck off of. Stewart will look to work out most of the summer to be ready for training camp in the fall as his goal is to be a full-time OHL player next season, being called up near the end of this past season.

A feel-good story as local Junior C camp invitee Jacob Sapienza showed some solid defensive play as a 200-foot forward, getting rewarded with a pair of assists on the day for his efforts.

As for the goaltenders, local product Finn Moffett came up with some huge stops in Game 2 including a cross crease pad save on an odd-man rush. Charlie Burns came up with some big glove saves in the shootout, while Darcy DeWatcher and Hayden Jeffery all split goalie duties between periods and the shootout opportunities, coming up with timely saves throughout as both tandems went 1-1 on the day.

The next key date for the IceDogs will be July 5th for the CHL Import Draft, where the IceDogs will have a top selection to use if they so choose to.


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