By: Brandon Caputo
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography
The IceDogs are back at it on a Sunday matinee vs a Central Division rival in the Mississauga Steelheads, who currently sit atop the division. Niagara is coming off tough back-to-back losses against Peterborough, who are directly in front of them in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The IceDogs come in to today's game having won only 1 of the 6 meetings vs the Steelheads this season,
with the last being a hard fought 3-2 loss in Mississauga just a few weeks ago.
The Steelheads come into the game sitting 2nd in the Eastern Conference, just 2 points behind the Hamilton Bulldogs for top spot in the Conference. Although, Mississauga have been sputtering as of late, going 4-5-0-1 in their last 10 games. The IceDogs have been outscored 36-13 in the 7 head-to-head meetings this season.
After the 2 losses to the Petes earlier in the week, the IceDogs now have an even taller mountain to climb as they sit 14 points behind Sudbury for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Rookie forward Declan Waddick returns to the lineup, while veteran defenseman Landon Cato is out for today's game.
The IceDogs inactive list also includes Liam Van Loon (suspension), Pano Fimis (injury), Danil Gushchin (injury),
Cam Peters (injury), Tanner Ryan (healthy), & Boe Piroski (healthy). Rookie forward Juan Copeland is up to 8 goals on the season, coming off a 2-goal performance against Peterborough on Friday Night.
The Steelheads come into the game being led by LW James Hardie & C Luca DelBelBelluz who both sit at 67 points in 53 games, as the driving forces for Mississauga's success this season. Their goaltender Roman Basran holds an 18-9-0-5 record, while nearly splitting the goaltending duties with his teammate Joe Ranger (14-6-1-0).
Aidan Castle leads the IceDogs vs the Steelheads this season with 4 points in 7 games, along with Danil Gushchin who has 3 points in only 4 games played vs Mississauga.
On the opposing bench, James Hardie leads the Steelheads vs the IceDogs with 15 points in only 7 games, along with line-mate Luca DelBelBelluz who has amassed 13 points in 7 games.
LW: Juan Copeland
C: Daniel Michaud
RW: Brenden Sirizzotti
D: Dakota Betts
D: Alec Leonard
G: Josh Rosenzweig
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IceDogs get a powerplay with just over 5 minutes into the game as Prueter goes off for high sticking.
an unfortunate play as goaltender Rosenzweig comes way out of his net to break up a possible shorthanded breakaway chance for Hardie and shoots it out of play for a delay of game penalty, dismissing an early powerplay opportunity.
Josh Rosenzweig comes up with a few huge desperation saves to keep it a scoreless game.
Rookie defenseman Sami Douglas-Najem is able to spring loose for a breakaway opportunity but its stopped by Basran.
Brenden Sirizzotti and James Hardie both have chances that hit the iron in behind the goaltenders, but there is still no score after the 1st Period. Shots 12-11 in favour of the IceDogs.
Just a minute into the game, Declan Waddick returns to the lineup and pots in a breakaway goal to give the IceDogs the 1-0 lead. Lucas LittleJohn takes a slashing penalty on the next shift to give the Steelheads a powerplay opportunity. The IceDogs are able to kill off the penalty but Struthers gets called for interference for knocking a stick away from a Steelheads player on a very soft call. Another short lived powerplay as Veccia takes a high sticking penalty right off the draw.
Michaud drives the net and creates an opportunity for Dionicio who gets it passed Basran, but Larsen is able to pull it off the crease to keep it out of the net and keep it a 1-0 game. Betts gets called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to keep the penalty box frenzy going, as he defends his goaltender who covered the puck after and was then slashed by Veccia.
The IceDogs penalty kill is spot on once again, as they don't give up much of anything. Declan Waddick continues his strong game as he finds Brice Cooke who fires one past Basran to give the IceDogs a
surprising 2-0 lead halfway through the 2nd Period. Rosenzweig then makes a big breakaway stop on Lavoie to keep the Steelheads off the scoresheet.
Sharpe goes off for holding an IceDogs player and Niagara gets an opportunity to blow the game wide open.
Nothing doing on the powerplay, but the puck remained in the zone by Dakota Betts who found Brice Cooke down low for a quick shot and rebound that is potted in by Juan Copeland, who continues his hot hand.
The 3rd goal in as many games for the IceDogs 2nd Round Pick in 2021.
Shots after the 2nd Period are 23-22 in favour of Mississauga, but 3-0 on the scoreboard for the IceDogs.
Early into the period, Agostinelli takes the pass from Michaud and is able to get an off-balanced shot off, but Larsen of Mississauga lays a clear elbow to the head on the check; no penalty called.
Captain Dakota Betts takes a high stick behind the net from Veccia, giving the IceDogs a powerplay chance.
DelBelBelluz and Hardie have a shorthanded chance that goes for not, which is followed up by a weak roughing call to Dakota Betts who finished his check in the corner on Hardie. Steelheads to a shortened powerplay once the 4on4 ends, but Rosenzweig comes up with 2 solid saves to keep it 3-0. Dylan Roobroeck and all 6'3 of him gets a surprising shorthanded breakaway chance, but is hauled down getting a partial shot off.
IceDogs penalty kill has been up to the task today.
Niagara will go back to another penalty kill as Ryan Struthers hauls down his man for tripping and the Steelheads will get a few more chances that Josh Rosenzweig is able to stand tall on in the crease.
An unexpected play as Sirizzotti lays out Lavoie along the ice. A scrum ensues and penalties are handed out.
A review takes place to determine if Brand from Mississauga is to be given a 5-minute match penalty for spearing Juan Copeland, which triggered the scrum.
It is deemed to be a 4-minute penalty for spearing, no game misconduct. IceDogs will be on the powerplay and kill off more time on the clock with a 3-goal lead with under 5 minutes left in the final period.
Brice Cooke almost has his 2nd goal of the night with just over a minute remaining in the game as Basran has to look behind him and sprawl to keep the puck from crossing the line.
The Cheeseburger goal is scored in the empty net by Brenden Sirizzotti as Daniel Michaud was hauled down.
IceDogs win it 4-0 and Josh Rosenzweig caps off a stellar performance with a 31-save shutout.
Niagara bookends wins vs Mississauga finishing off their 2021-22 calendar vs the Central Division opponent.
Niagara back at it on Wednesday in Erie to play the Otters and are at home on Friday to face off vs another Central Division opponent in the Barrie Colts.
Jersey House Player of the Game: G Josh Rosenzweig (31-save Shutout)
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography