Young IceDogs struggle vs loaded Frontenacs squad
Brandon Caputo (@Caputz13_AGM)
After a tumultuous week for the Niagara IceDogs franchise off the ice, the players looked to finish out their season strong on the ice. A feel good moment pre-game as the IceDogs billet families were honoured by each of their housed players, thanking them for their hospitality and support for these young adults during the 2021-22 hockey season. Coming off a loss in Peterborough last night, Niagara's schedule doesn't get any easier the final 3 games of the season, all against playoff bound teams.
First up is a Sunday afternoon matinee game against a loaded Kingston Frontenacs squad, led by overaged rookie Lucas Edmonds who has an astonishing 108 points in 64 games. Not to be forgotten is Frontenacs captain and the projected 1st Overall Pick in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft: Shane Wright.
After starting the season off slowly in his draft year, #51 has picked up his game as of late and has skyrocketed up to 7th in league scoring with 31 goals 60 points for 91 points in 60 games. This is the only time that fans in Niagara will have a chance to see the can't miss NHL prospect, as Wright had already left for Canada's World Junior camp when the Frontenacs were in town this past December. After playing his exceptional status season back in 19-20, the Frontenacs 21-22 captain has shown glimpses as to why his 2-way game will be so coveted when he makes the jump to the pro game as early as next season.
Photo Credit: Ian MacAlpine/The Whig-Standard
Kingston comes into the game sitting 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with a 39-20-4-1 record and a 5-3-1-1 record in their last 10 games, with what looks to be a team that will have home ice advantage during the 1st Round of the OHL playoffs. The Frontenacs own the league's 4th best Powerplay with a 26.5%, not surprising given the plethora of lethal players in their lineup.
The IceDogs come into today's game holding a 22-39-3-1 record but playing better hockey as of late being 6-4 in their last 10 outings. Thanks to the strong performance the last month, the team rallied to make it a respectable race for the final playoff spot but was officially eliminated from contention earlier this week, as the Peterborough Petes were able to stumble across the finish line and clinch the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Niagara and Sudbury will be the odd teams out this season in the East, but both teams have bright futures going into the 2022-23 season and will have top 5 picks in this years OHL Draft.
Along with playing a top team, the IceDogs will have an even tougher task as they will only be dressing 4 defenseman, which has become a common occurrence as of late. Niagara once again has a small roster on their inactive list including: Landon Cato, Anthony Agostinelli, Cam Peters, Ilia Chmelevski, Sami Douglas-Najem, Lucas Littlejohn, and Tanner Ryan, along with veteran d-man Isaac Enright being a late scratch.
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STARTING LINEUP (LW) Liam Van Loon (C) Daniel Michaud (RW) Brenden Sirizzotti (D) Dakota Betts (D) Andrew Wycisk (G) Josh Rosenzweig
A lot happened in this game as far as scoring, so we recapped the goals with not much else to discuss, as both teams were clearly going in opposite directions as we reach the end of the OHL's regular season.
FIRST PERIOD SCORING
- Early powerplay for Kingston. Delay of game by Cooke. Francesco Arcuri scores from Wisdom and Chromiak - Edmonds scores at 11 minute mark to make it 2-0 from Chromiak and Wright - Lots of chances by IceDgos but could not bury - Powerplay to send period for Icedogs which was unsuccessful
SECOND PERIOD SCORING
- Back and fourth start to period - Paul Ludwinski scores. 3-0 from Arcuri and Wisdom
- Kingston goalie Aidan Spooner with some great saves - Aiden Castle scores 15th goal of the season on breakaway. 3-1 on the great stretch pass from Liam Van Loon - Unlucky goal for Kingston. Ludwinski off of Gushchin 4-1 from Arcuri and Wisdom - IceDogs answer back. Sirizzotti 17th goal of the season on an off-balanced shot. 4-2 from Van Loon and Wycisk - Kingston goal few minutes later. Nathan Poole. 5-2 from Hughes as the Frontenacs finally get some bottom-6 scoring production - 2 minutes left in period. Shane Wright tip in 32nd of the season. 6-2 from Budnick and Edmonds - 1 minute left. Arcuri 2nd of the game. 7-2
THIRD PERIOD SCORING
- Paul Ludwinski from Peric and Murray
- Chromiak from Wright and Edmonds
- Gushchin snipe from Fimis and Castle
- Brooks from Hughes and Ludwinski
- Brice Cooke from Castle and Michaud
- Struthers from Fimis and Gushchin in the final minute of the period for the Cheeseburger goal to send the crowd home with something positive.
KEY FINAL STATS
Paul Ludwinski finishes with 3 goals + 1 assist, Francesco Arcuri had 2 goals 2 assists, and Shane Wright finished with 1 goal + 2 assists on the day for the Frontenacs; as he inches closer to the 100 century mark now needing 6 points in the final 2 games of the regular season to reach that milestone. Aidan Spooner makes 27 of 32 saves in the victory.
Liam Van Loon finishes with 3 assists, Pano Fimis finishes with 2 assists now the franchise leader for assists by a rookie with 28 on the season, and Danil Gushchin scored his 40th goal of the season in only 49 games played due to injuries and suspensions. Josh Rosenzweig stopped 22 of 27 in the loss before being given the rest of the night off to start the 3rd period in a game where the team in front of him was clearly outmatched and undermanned.
Sunday Afternoon's Attendance at Meridian Centre: 4,780
Jersey House Player of the Game: #88 Liam Van Loon (3 assists +1 rating)
Photo Credit: vivideyephotography