Review of OHL Round 2 Game #1 Between #1 Niagara Icedogs and #4 Brampton Battalion.

Responsible, predictable, and reasonable. While these are all characteristics that you would value in a new employee or business partner – do they work in hockey? Of course they do – and the Brampton Battalion are a shining example of taking care of their areas, not taking chances and sticking to their systems. The fans at the Ole Tyme Jack Gatecliff Arena in St. Catharines were not treated to a back and forth ‘pond hockey’ type of contest – rather they were presented with a tight checking – grind-it out format. In the first period the Icedogs would try to take the balance of play, but they found out early that the Battalion were not going to hand the game over to the home side without some stiff opposition.

Late in the period Ryan Stome came flying in on the right wing – completed a nifty toe drag to out wait the defended and popped a slick wrist shot past Brampton’s Machovsky late in the first period for the first goal of the game. In the second period the Battalion would push back and pressure the Icedogs’ defence into some turnovers leading to some reasonable chances to score on Mark Visentin. The Brampton goal resulted from some gritty work down low in the offensive corner – the puck squirted out to Carrick who then pushed it along to McIvor who would put his point shot to the upper corner of the net. Between McIvor and the net there were at least 4 players that made it very difficult for any goaltender to have a clear view of the oncoming puck.

On offence, the Icedogs have been able to set up their precision passing plays for most of the season against most teams. The Battalion would frustrate them tonight by blocking shots, getting sticks/skates/equipment in the way of their passes and generally keeping the home squad ‘to the outside’. The Battalion’s plan of attack was to barrage the net with as many shots as possible from anywhere inside the blue line. With that being said the shots on net were skewed in favour of the Battalion 45-36 but the Icedogs would have more quality scoring chances than the visiting team throughout the game.

The linesmen earned their keep tonight as there were numerous icing infractions – especially by the Battalion who were comfortable with clearing their zone when the Icedogs would put too much pressure on them. The referees were not too busy calling penalties as both teams were physical in the checking department, but played within the rules most of the time. In overtime there was a goal mouth scramble that seemed to last for 30 seconds. The Dogs were pressing hard but couldn’t get the puck over the line. A penalty shot was called as the defender (Miller) had his hand on the puck in the crease. A penalty shot was awarded to the Icedogs. As the crowd was going crazy, Brett Ritchie was selected from the list of Coach Williamson’s offensively skilled options. He would come directly at Machovsky and take a blocker side shot that would completely miss the net. As the crowd exhaled, the home squad would continue to press hard to get the overtime winner. The overage line of Freisen, Agozzino and Pacan would be put out to finish the job. After some gritty work on the boards, the puck would squirt over to David Pacan near the slot – he would fire a low shot through the tender’s pads to give the Icedogs the win.

Before the game it was reported that some of the Icedogs equipment was stolen from the team’s dressing room (watch kijiji and report it please!) – included in the theft was Mark Visentin’s goalie pads. This did not seem to be a distraction for the goalie or the team during this match. The Icedogs did not steal this victory – they earned it. Stars for the game were Pacan (1) and goaltenders Visentin (2) and Machovsky.

Next game is at 2 PM in Brampton – should be a dandy series !!