The Niagara Icedogs inched up the standings this weekend with back to back wins. The streak started with a 5-1 victory over the division rivals Barrie Colts, followed by a 2-1 win over the high powered Sudbury Wolves. The Icedogs 2015-16 rookie of the year Stephen Dhillon got the start in both games. The Buffalo native came up big once again, turning aside 41 shots against the Colts, and another 44 saves in the Sudbury game. Dhillon is still the OHL leader for saves amungst goaltenders with a total of 601, while climbing to third overall in save percentage, boasting a 9.19 SV%.
The Icedogs are back in action Wednesday in an afternoon game against the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Niagara Falls native Joseph Murdaca earned the games third star during a 4-3 overtime win. Murdaca’s Mississauga Steelheads defeated the North Bay Battalion at the North Bay Memorial Gardens arena, while stopping 29 of 32 shots. Murdaca now has a 2.21 GAA and a .944 SV%.
“Well it feels good to get thos two points in North Bay, it was a tight game that went back and forth and we came out on top with a big goals by tipsy in overtime” (Owen Tippett). Said Murdaca
The Niagara Icedogs have moved up the standings, and chipped away at a close Eastern Conference with the help of starting netminder Stephen Dhillon. The Buffalo native played all three games in consecutive order while being unbeaten in regulation. Dhillon opened the weekend with a 5-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit in which Dhillon faced 46 saves earning the games first star. The following night saw another busy night between the pipes with Dhillon falling to the Barrie Colts in a shoot-out. The extra point was pivotal for an Icedog team clawing its way up the standings. Dhillon faced 48 shots.
Dhillon saved his best performance for last, in which the Icedogs earned another massive point on the shoulders of Stephen Dhillon. The Icedogs netminder was once again the games first star and saw a season high of 55 shots against in Owen Sound, allowing only one goal in regulation. Dhillon’s 53 saves is a career high for the Buffalo Native. The Icedogs netminder faced a total of 149 shots in the three games, while making 140 saves. Dhillon is now the OHL league leader for goalies in Saves, while boasting an impressive .909 SV%.
Niagara Icedogs goaltending coach and owner of Ryan Ludzik Goaltending was pleased with the efforts of his netminder, “well I was very impressed with Stephens ability to control his crease, angles and tempo of the game, for a big man he settled himself down and controlled his crease. He didn’t get caught out of position and was squaring up well. We knew we needed to get a few points this weekend or this season would start slipping away from us and our goaltender gave us every chance to earn those points, he was phenomenal”.
The Icedogs are back in action this Thursday night at the Meridian Center where they will take on the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs.
Niagara Falls native Josh Astorino has started his season exactly as planned. The Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL had high hopes when they picked up the veteran with hopes of stabilizing the back end, and the 6’2 netminder has done just that. In 12 games this season Astorino is an astonishing 10-1-0-1 with a GAA of 2.21 and a sparkly Save Percentage of .921 while accumulating 304 saves thus far.
“Well you know I just wanted to be reliable in every situation for my team and someone they can count on” said Astorino about what his expectations were heading into the season. “You work hard all summer on and off the ice, I felt great heading into camp, and felt pretty good early but it’s a long year so I am prepared for what’s to come”
Astorino has been a long time member of the RLG community, dating back to his minor hockey days. We had a chance to catch up with owner Ryan Ludzik and asked him about Astorino’s early success “well of course I expected this, I believed in Josh all along. He’s a technically sound goalie who sees and reads the game very well. He uses his size accordingly and bring a sense of calmness to the game. Smart goalies like this who continue to work on their craft always find spots to play” said Ludzik. “I am sure a lot of schools and programs are starting to notice Josh as well and they should be, he has worked very hard and will continue to work hard to achieve his goals, I have all the confidence in the world in him” said Ludzik again.
Astorino is currently on an 8 game winning streak, and has recorded points for his club in his past 10 starts.
Goodluck from everyone at RLG Josh keep up the good work
The Niagara Icedogs opened the season with a dramatic victory in North Bay on Friday Night. With Stephen Dhillon still attending the Detroit Redwings camp, the Icedogs elected to start rookie netminder Colton Incze. The Oakville native would not disappoint, as he lead the Dogs to a 3-1 Win while earning third star. Incze made 32 saves, providing many key saves at crucial times when called upon. “well ya know, that’s a tough place to start on any night, never mind your first game in the league, Colton looked calm all night, he was there when we needed him, I was really impressed with his demeanor, he played a complete game” said goaltending coach Ryan Ludzik
The Icedogs are back in action this Friday night for the clubs Home Opener against the Kingston Frontenacs.
Niagara Icedogs goaltender Stephen Dhillon is attending the Detroit Redwings camp in Traverse City. Dhillon was the Niagara Icedogs rookie of the year last season and an instrumental part of the teams success. Dhillon also attended the Redwings rookie camp earlier this summer, as well as the Boston Bruins. Dhillons strong play earned him an invite back to Traverse City for the Detroit Redwings. The Buffalo native will be a key part of the Niagara Icedogs this upcoming season. We had a chance to catch up with Ryan Ludzik and asked him to comment on Dhillon, “Stephens game improved throughout the season last year, and continues to improve. We will rely on him this year and have a lot of confidence knowing he is our guy” said Ludzik.
Last years runner up for OHL goalie of the year and Carolina Hurricanes second round pick Alex Nedeljkovic is also in Traverse City. Nedeljkovic won his first start of the tournament against the New York Rangers in a thrilling 4-3 battle which needed overtime to settle the score.
Peterborough Petes netminder Dylan Wells made his first start for the Edmonton Oilers last night. The 5th round pick turned aside 35 saves en route to victory.
RLG wants to wish Stephen, Dylan and Alex the best of luck at their Development camps.
Niagara Falls native Josh Astorino has been signed by the Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL. Astorino makes the jump after establishing himself an an elite goaltender in the GOJHL loop.
Astorino is no stranger to pressure situations, Josh won a championship for the Grimsby Peachkings during his rookie campaign. Astorino lead his team to a title in his first season of junior also being named Junior C goalie of the year.
Astorino’s stint with the Thorold Blackhawks earned him respect amongst his peers. With devotion and passion, Josh always leads by example. Astorino was runner up for player of the year twice, a league All-Star twice and a 5 time goalie of the month.
RLG reporter Mitch Vargus had a chance to catch up with Astorino VIA Skype. Vargus was abrupt when asking Astorino what his goals were for this season . “Well ya know I just want to take it game by game, I want to make an impact and give my team a chance to win every night. I know what I can do and I look forward to the challenge”. said the humble Astorino.
When asked about the change of league Astorino as usual was not phased “Of course there will be an adjustment but I have trained hard all summer, off and on the ice. I have gone over countless video sessions with Ludzy, made a few areas of my game stronger and I’m really excited to start this season”.
Astorino has been a long time student and instructor at the RLG camps. Everyone wishes him the best of luck in Georgetown!!!