Written by: Kyle Akitt (@JustKyle51)
In a game that saw Teddy Bears falling from the rafters, the Niagara IceDogs were back home for the second game of the week against the North Bay Battalion. Coming off a big win against the Ottawa 67's on Thursday, the IceDogs looked to continue the momentum heading into this game and get back to back wins for the first time since the first two regular-season games. There was extra excitement in the air at the Meridian Centre with the fans, not only for the last team win, but it was the Teddy Bear Toss game where the fans got the opportunity to throw their stuffed animal onto the ice following the IceDogs first goal. They are then collected and donated to local charitable organizations in the community.
The last time these two teams met, the IceDogs fell to the Battalion by a score of 7-3. The one positive from that game was that IceDogs rookie forward Ryan Struthers scored his first career OHL goal and newly acquired veteran forward Liam Van Loon score his first IceDogs goal. This game would see two of the top players from the 2020 OHL Draft facing off against each other. North Bay Battalion defencemen Ty Nelson, who went 1st Overall, and IceDogs forward Pano Fimis, who went 2nd Overall. This would be a big look at the two future faces of each franchise going into this game.
Cameron Butler (RW)
Danil Gushchin (LW)
Jake Uberti (C)
Landon Cato (D)
Dakota Betts (D)
Josh Rosenzweig (G)
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The first period would see both teams showcase their powerplay early with their young stars and all eyes were on San Jose Sharks prospect and Battalion forward Brandon Coe who is the current OHL League Leader in points. Although both teams proved unsuccessful on the special teams, it wasn't without some good opportunities by both teams and some good saves by both goaltenders.
It would be the Battalion to score first as defencemen Avery Winslow broke in and scored a nice goal past Rosenzweig to go up 1-0. It wouldn't be long after that North Bay would strike twice, one goal from Owen Van Steensel and the other from Brandon Coe who currently leads the OHL in goals this season. This forced IceDogs Head Coach Billy Burke to use his 30-second time-out very early in the game as North Bay at this point held a commanding 3 goal lead.
The IceDogs would finally get the Teddy Bear goal by defencemen Dakota Betts. This would be his 3rd goal of the season for the veteran defenceman and as the teddy bears fell, a spark was lit underneath the IceDogs as they would hem the Battalion in their own end and draw a power play as well. It was the IceDogs continued non-success on powerplays that would show its ugly face as they would go 0 for 4 at this point in the game, something the IceDogs have been working to fix this season.
The IceDogs would continue the offensive pressure on the Battalion for the rest of the period, outshooting North Bay 14-3 and going into the 3rd period on a powerplay, drawn by forward Jake Uberti.
The third period was setting up to be one hell of a period with the IceDogs starting the period with a powerplay and all the momentum. Unfortunately, this was a period to forget as a flurry of questionable penalty calls would cause the IceDogs to be shorthanded for most of the period and in some cases on a 5 on 3 penalty kill. This would have the IceDogs very frustrated and made it tough to get any momentum back in the game. The Battalion would score a few more goals en route to a 5-1 game. The fans and Head Coach Billy Burke would definitely let the referees know about what they thought as some leftover teddy bears were thrown out on the ice and heavy boos ringed through the Meridian Centre
JERSEY HOUSE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Josh Rosenzweig
Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor/OHL Images