Return of the Butler as 2022 Begins
Written by: Kyle Akitt
Photo Credit: Kyle Akitt
The first game of 2022 for the Niagara IceDogs was definitely something to be held.
Especially for us media in attendance, as the new Ontario Government Heath Restrictions stared that no fans are allowed in sports venues for the foreseeable future. This would be the first game for the Niagara IceDogs with no fans allowed in attendance. Something these young players have yet to experience and definitely a big adjustment for some that haven't experienced anything like it, since their young minor hockey days.
The last IceDogs home game was on Saturday, December 11th in a 5-2 loss to the Kingston Frontenacs and since then, one major change happened. This past Monday, the Niagara IceDogs made a trade with the Oshawa Generals sending captain Cameron Butler in exchange for a 2nd Round Pick in 2025 and an 11th Round Pick in 2024.
GM Joey Burke has this to say about the departure of the now-former IceDogs captain: "It’s always difficult to move a player out, and even more so when it’s your captain. We can’t thank Cam enough for everything he brought while here in Niagara, and we wish him nothing but the best in Oshawa. At the end of the day, this was a difficult but necessary move to make the additions we felt we needed to make as a group moving forward.
We wish Cam all the best in his new home.”
Photo Credit: Brandon Caputo
The IceDogs would then acquire from the Ottawa 67's forward Brenden Sirizzotti in exchange for the Guelph Storm 2nd Round Pick in 2023 ahead of the January 10th OHL Trade Deadline. Sirizzotti is coming to Niagara as a 2nd round pick in the last OHL draft with 8 goals and 12 assists so far this season.
Coincidentally, the IceDogs would not have to wait long to see their former captain as this game would be against the Oshawa Generals with Cameron Butler in the starting lineup for the Generals. This would be the 4th meeting between these two teams this season with the IceDogs having the advantage of taking 2 out of the 3 contests with 3-2 wins. The IceDogs (7-16-0-1) currently sit last place in the Eastern Conference, while the Generals (13-10-1-2) sit in 6th place. The IceDogs still sit in somewhat of a good playoff position, only being 3 points back of the Peterborough Petes.
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In what we can call Bizzaro world with no fans in attendance, the IceDogs would be the ones to score first with San Jose Sharks prospect Danil Gushchin getting sent on a breakaway and tucking it past Generals goaltender Zachary Paputsakis. This would mark Danil's 19th goal of the season for the IceDogs and team-leading 31st point. Both IceDogs and Generals would both share a plethora of scoring chances as the period went on and both team's goaltenders came up with some big saves.
A lot of good chances came from new IceDogs forward Brenden Sirizzotti who made his presence known on a couple of chances and almost scored his first goal as an IceDog. Also making his presence known was former IceDogs captain Cameron Butler (now wearing #42 for Oshawa) who, on several chances, almost got one past his former goaltender Josh Rosenzweig.
Even without fans in attendance, the pace of the game remained the same as any 1 goal game, with both teams trading many scoring chances and the physicality still at large. Most noticeable at this point in the game was IceDogs forward Cameron Peters, who has shown a tremendous improvement in his game speed and skill over the course of this season.
The IceDogs would eventually score their second goal of the game late in the period after a series of deflections in front of the net and the puck ending up on the stick of IceDogs forward Dylan Roobroeck who would score the 2nd goal of his OHL career and give the IceDogs a 2-goal lead. Both teams would continue to battle hard as the period ended with the IceDogs coming back in shots on goal, leading 26-20.
The IceDogs over the past month have acquired some new players to add to their young roster. We would see newly acquired this week player Brenden Sirizzotti get his first IceDogs point in the third period of this game setting up another newly acquired player Liam Van Loon and giving the IceDogs a 3-0 lead over the Generals. Loon would later add another later in the period on a breakaway and score his 6th of the season, giving the IceDogs a commanding 4-0 lead.
Photo Credit: Brandon Caputo
They would cap off the night as Pano Fimis would find Danil Gushchin who one-timed his second goal of the night to make it 5-0 very late in the 3rd period. What made this goal most impressive was that it was while the IceDogs were shorthanded 5on3, as Oshawa got very sloppy and careless in the final minute of the game being down multiple goals. Goaltender Josh Rosenzweig would pick up his first career OHL shutout in a 34-save performance, for what was a great night all around for this IceDogs team, starting off 2022 on a major high note.
JERSEY HOUSE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Josh Rosenzweig
Photo Credit: Vivid Eye Photography