November 22’s game was a forgetful one for the Niagara IceDogs (6-14-2) as they lost their sixth game in a row to the Sudbury Wolves (10-8-3) by a score of 6-1 at the Gatorade Garden City Complex.
Prior to the game, the Dogs and the entire Ontario Hockey League (OHL) mourned the loss of long time OHL Officiating Supervisor Ken Bodendistel, as he lost his battle with cancer. Not only did the Dogs commemorate the life of Bodendistel but they also displayed a moment of silence for Bob Hansplant and George Armitage, who were employees for the Dogs, who also passed away earlier in the week.
With the night commencing on a sad note, the Dogs unfortunately could not give their fans much to smile about as they had a hard time generating offense and played a lot of the game in their own end.
The Wolves got on the board first at the 11:44 mark of the first period when Nicholas Baptiste (Nepean, Ont.) scored his 18th goal of the season. Baptiste sniped a snap shot from the slot that went past the glove of Niagara goaltender Brent Moran (Orleans, Ont.).
Baptiste was selected in the third round of the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft and proved why he is such an elite player as he was a threat to score all night.
It looked as if Niagara was going to be able to hold the Wolves to just one goal in the first period but in the last minute of play, Sudbury struck again. Matt Schmalz (Dunnville, Ont.) scored a weak goal on Moran to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead.
Schmalz skated down the right wing and was almost in the corner to the left of Moran when his shot on net somehow got past the Niagara goaltender. Moran looked as if he thought Schmalz was passing it out front but instead the puck went in between his glove and pads and into the back of the net.
With the weak goal allowed at the end of the period, Niagara was now down 2-0 heading into the second frame. Despite the deficit, Niagara outshot the Wolves 13-11 in the period, but most of those shots on net were not true scoring chances.
The second period did not get any better for the Dogs as Sudbury dominated the period and showed that they were the stronger team. At 6:38 of the period, Jacob Harris (Georgetown, Ont.) scored the first of four Sudbury goals in the period as his shot from the right faceoff circle went over the left shoulder of Moran.
Defenseman Stefan LeBlanc (Oakville, Ont.) gave the Wolves a 4-0 advantage when his point shot found its way into the back of the net. LeBlanc’s goal sent Moran chasing as Christopher Festarini (Oakville, Ont.) came into the game for relief.
Unluckily for Dogs fans, Festarini didn’t change much as the Wolves scored on the first shot that Festarini faced. Nathan Pancel (Orleans, Ont.) added onto his stellar year as he scored his 22nd goal of the season on a deflection in front.
At the 16:32 mark of the period, fans finally had something to cheer about — it wasn’t a goal — when Cody Caron (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) dropped the gloves and fought Ray Huether (Londesborough, Ont.) after one of Caron’s teammates was hit from behind.
Despite Huether’s 20-pound advantage, Caron held his own as he landed some nice shots. With that being said, it was the only thing the crowd could be proud of as their team was getting badly outplayed.
Sudbury added one more goal with just 11 seconds remaining in the period to make the game 6-0, with a period still remaining.
In the third period, Niagara was finally generating quality chances but it was too late and goaltender Franky Palazzese (Toronto, Ont.) was too solid. Palazzese could not stay perfect on the night as his shutout was broken with less than three minutes remaining in the game when Jesse Graham (Toronto, Ont.) scored on a wrap around.
Despite the five-goal deficit, the crowd was still incredibly enthusiastic as they finally broke the shutout. Nobody else would score and the game ended 6-1 in favour of the Wolves. Even though the Dogs were outplayed substantially, they actually stormed back in the third and tied the Wolves in shots at 35 each.
The IceDogs next home game will take place on Nov. 28 at 7:00 p.m. at the Gatorade Garden City Complex.