The Niagara IceDogs were back in action Sunday afternoon in Hamilton for a matinee against the Bulldogs. With both teams young into their rebuilding processes, the second instalment of the K9 Cup Challenge was sure to be fast paced and exciting.
With both Mason Howard and Elijah Roberts out of the lineup, the IceDogs young defensive corps was relying heavily on third year blueliner Adrien Beraldo. Although technically a rookie, AJ Cook did lace up in eight games in the 2018-19 season. Cook and Betts got the start on the back-end.
The rebuilding IceDogs hadn’t scored in two games, but when you have top line talent of Thomas, Tomasino and Lodnia, that drought’s sure to end. The captain Akil Thomas got the ‘Dogs on the board just under nine minutes into the first period.
Then, just four minutes later, Ivan Lodnia took advantage of a shorthanded opportunity. With the puck loose at centre ice, Lodnia jumped on the puck and streaked into the offensive zone with Phil Tomasino to double the IceDogs’ lead.
The Bulldogs scored three consecutive goals to carry a 3-2 lead into the second period.
Early in the second period, first-year goaltender Tucker Tynan made a series of big saves to keep the IceDogs within one, including this save on Hamilton’s Hayes.
The momentum gained from rookie Tynan’s saves helped propel the IceDogs into sustaining significant pressure in the offensive zone. A seemingly easy shot on net from Thomas found the back of the net to tie the game up at 3! Lodnia picked up his second assist on the night with the lone apple on Thomas’ second goal of the game.
The IceDogs’ momentum didn’t stop there. In the final minute of the period, the IceDogs found themselves on a power play, after Akil Thomas ensured the linesman was aware of the face off violations incurred by the Bulldogs. Andrew Bruder, a newcomer to the developing power play set up the IceDogs’ late period go-ahead goal! With a pass from the goal line, Bruder found Thomas who got the puck to Lodnia. Lodnia stopped the initial pass and then sniped it from the slot to send Niagara to the second intermission with a 4-3 lead!
Midway through the final period of regulation, the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty shot. Tynan, who had been rock solid between the pipes for the IceDogs, stopping 29 of 32 shots to this point, made the save to redirect the penalty shot out of danger.
Tynan’s play between the pipes was complimented by the play of Landon Cato. The 2019 OHL Draft third rounder has stepped up his play significantly since fellow rookie defender Enright left for the World U17 Hockey Challenge. Cato has seen big moments, especially in the third period of the Sunday matinee, and made the most of the ice time with big block shots and rushes to hold the line during sustained pressure. The first-year defender has certainly benefitted with the extra playing time that comes with rebuilds. With 4 minutes remaining in the game, the IceDogs took advantage of another power play, and this time it was Bruder. Coming into this afternoon’s game, Bruder had 2 points on the season, and he doubled his point totals in less than 60 minutes!
The IceDogs’ 5-3 lead was cut to one when the Bulldogs scored a goal with the extra attacker, after pulling their goaltender. Niagara held on to the 5-4 win to end their streak!
The IceDogs have one more game on the road, in Peterborough before returning to the Meridian Centre on Saturday, November 16th, verses the Windsor Spitfires, for Military Appreciation Night.
Tickets are starting as low as $15/person and can be purchased online HERE, or in person at the following locations:
IceDogs Meridian Centre Offices 905-687-3641
Meridian Centre Box Office
Pen Centre Customer Service
Seaway Mall Customer Service
Big Marco’s Three Stars of the Game
- Akil Thomas (2G, 2A)
- Ivan Lodnia (2G, 3A)
- Jan Jenik (HAM)