View Full Version : With rivals slumping, Niagara IceDogs get back into the OHL playoff Race

02-18-2010, 10:49 AM
With rivals slumping, Niagara IceDogs get back into the OHL playoff raceNiagara battling for playoff berth against Sudbury and Oshawa

By Sunaya Sapurji
Junior hockey
It isn't exactly schadenfreude, but the Niagara IceDogs aren't too heartbroken over the current slump that has befallen the Oshawa Generals and Sudbury Wolves.
The Generals' eight-game losing streak, combined with the Wolves' five-game skid, has allowed the IceDogs to jump back into the hunt for the final two playoff spots, tying all three teams with 47 points in the Eastern Conference standings.
"I think around the (January) trade deadline we were 20th out of the 20 teams," says IceDogs GM Dave Brown.
"I don't think there were a lot of people other than ourselves that thought we were in the (playoff) race, but we've made it our goal and here we are today and we're deadlocked with two other teams."
The Dogs have won two straight and are 5-3-0-2 in their past 10 games, closing an eight-point gap on the Generals, who haven't produced a victory since Jan. 28.
"Niagara has been playing extremely well since the trade deadline, and you have to give them credit," says Generals head coach Chris DePiero.
"From our perspective, since Christmas we've had a couple key injuries that have knocked guys out. Calvin de Haan is out for the season and Alain Berger has been out for eight weeks now, so those are two key guys for us, so that's impacted us."
Swiss winger Berger, one of the Generals' most offensively reliable forwards, broke his ankle just prior to the world junior championships. They lost star defenceman de Haan on Jan.24 to a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery.
During their eight-game, slide the Generals been shutout twice and have only scored 15 goals while giving up 41.
"Earlier in the year we didn't have issues scoring goals and now it's becoming an issue. It's ironic because there have been games where we've scored goals and we've won hockey games and all of a sudden now it's been a struggle," DePiero says.
"Giving up the goals is obviously a concern and something that we're trying to adjust daily."
DePiero says he's trying to keep his young squad from panicking during the slump.
The IceDogs and Generals have two of the youngest teams in the OHL with an average of age of 18.3 and 18.4 years respectively.
"We've tried to loosen it up and tried to have a little fun with the guys and just go back over some structure stuff. It's just reassuring the fundamentals skating, shooting, passing," DePiero said. "We're just trying to get our guys to have fun and keep it simple."
There isn't likely to be much fun on Thursday as the Generals (21-30-3-2) visit the Eastern Conference-leading Barrie Colts (45-8-0-2). The IceDogs (20-29-2-5), who have earned points in six of their last eight games, will host the fifth-place Brampton Battalion (21-23-7-5) on the same night.
Brown says he won't be looking at the score from the Oshawa game until it's over.
"I'm pretty superstitious, so I try not to check mid-game," he says of looking at the results on the OHL website. "But we'd be liars if we said we won't be keeping a close ear for it, that's for sure."

02-18-2010, 02:44 PM
And lets not forget in the last 10 games where the Dogs have only lost 3, they've played Windsor, London, Windsor, Kingston, Erie, Erie. Not weak teams!