Undermanned IceDogs fall to the Battalion on Saturday Night
Kyle Akitt (@JustKyle51)
Brandon Caputo (@Caputz13_AGM)
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography
After a strong 7-4 win against the Erie Otters on Thursday, the IceDogs were back at home for the last game of a 5-game home stand. Besides taking advantage of the home ice with full capacity, the IceDogs have been seeing a lot of better days, going 3-0-1 in this stretch and gaining some much needed points in catching the Peterborough Petes for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The IceDogs currently sit only 11 points back with 11 games left in the regular season. They will need to be scoreboard watching Sudbury and Peterborough and get some help from the other OHL teams in order to have some chance at making it into the playoffs.
Things would not be easy for the IceDogs to start this path as going into this game versus North Bay would see the absence of some key players in Danil Gushchin, Liam Van Loon, Daniel Michaud, Rodwin Dionicio and still on the injured reserve Cameron Peters. With a depleted lineup, the IceDogs would be forced to call-up Tanner Ryan once more and run with 3 centres for this game. Head coach Billy Burke has been familiar with working his lineup magic this season before and will look to continue showing it with this important game.
STARTING LINEUP (LW) JUAN COPELAND (C) DYLAN ROOBROECK (RW) BRENDEN SIRIZZOTTI (D) ALEC LEONARD (D) LANDON CATO (G) JOSH ROSENZWEIG
Things started great for the IceDogs early on in this period as a rebound from a shot from Pano Fimis was put past goaltender Dom DiVincentiis by Aiden Castle, getting his 11th of the season. Taken 13th overall in the first round of the OHL Draft, Castle has had a very good second half of the season, finding line chemistry with former AAA Toronto Jr. Canadiens teammate and 2nd Overall pick from that year, Pano Fimis. As the IceDogs continued the pressure on the Battalion, they would eventually find the back of the net a second time early on with Anthony Agostinelli scoring his 8th of the season. After a flurry of a penalty kill that would see Josh Rosenzweig make a couple of great saves, another penalty taken by Lucas Littlejohn would lead to Mitchell Russell scoring his 36th goal of the year and getting the Battalion back in the game with only being down by 1. The IceDogs would continue to struggle to stay out of the penalty box as a penalty to Brice Cooke would lead to Edmonton Oilers prospect Matvey Petrov scoring on the powerplay and tying the game at 2, midway through the 1st period.
The frustration would start to show near the end of the period, as captain Dakota Betts would be sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct arguing a missed knee-on-knee hit in the open ice by North Bay and received a game misconduct for arguing the call with the officials. This would lead Niagara to a big penalty kill and a successful one at that against a very strong scoring North Bay team.
With a very unusual end to the period due to the arena fire alarm going off at 1:49 of the first period, both teams would have to wait for the fresh ice to finish the period and commence the 2nd right after the horn.
The pace would start to slow down for both teams but scoring chances still coming at either end of the ice. Petrov would score his second of the game to complete the comeback for the battalion and make it a 3-2 game 7 minutes into the 2nd period. As the period continues, the IceDogs would struggle to get back on the board, even with a few powerplays and the Battalion coming to close to adding to their lead on a few chances.
The IceDogs would eventually get a blessing of a prayer from the hockey gods as a cross-ice pass attempt from forward Juan Copeland would deflect off a Battalion player in front of the net and past goaltender Dom DiVincentiis, to tie the game late into the 2nd period.
The Battalion would not take long to strike and at the beginning of the third period, 50 seconds in, forward Kyle Jackson would score catching the IceDogs flat-footed in their own zone. The IceDogs would struggle to find any kind of momentum offensively and causing North Bay to capitalize on this and keep the IceDogs hemmed in their own end.
At the midway point of the third period, IceDogs defensemen Alec Leonard would find the back of the net on a tuck-in goal after Pano Fimis would go end to end and tie the game at 4. This would be his 5th of the year for Leonard who's been one of the IceDogs most improved players this season. Although it would not take the Battalion long to respond as Mitchell Russell would score on a beautiful chance in front of Rosenzweig and gain back the 1 goal lead. North Bay would eventually score an empty-net goal to seal the deal with this one, winning 6-4. Josh Rosenzweig would stop 40 of 45 shots in the defeat for the IceDogs, while Kyle Jackson, Mitchell Russell, and Brandon Coe would all have 3 points a piece for North Bay.
IceDogs will have a quick turnaround on Sunday afternoon in Erie, coming off a 7-4 victory vs the Otters on Thursday Night.
Jersey House PLAYER OF THE GAME: Pano Fimis (2 assists)
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography