January 15, 2016

67's fall 4-1 to the new and improved IceDogs

NHL draft prospect, Christopher Paquette scored the game winning goal late in the second period to help lift the Niagara IceDogs to a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa 67’s on Friday night sending home 4,973 disappointed Ottawa fans.

“That’s a nice hockey club. They’re big, skilled, (and) smart,” said head coach Jeff Brown. “They got a chance this year. That’s a good team.”

The IceDogs started the season with a disappointing 0-4 record and struggled throughout the first half. Now with 5 straight wins to start 2016, they are looking like a favourite to win the East. There have been many changes to the IceDogs line up, but the addition of Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect Alex Nedeljkovic has been a major key for them and will make them hard to beat going forward.

Nedeljkovic was one of the best goaltenders at the World Junior Championship where he brought home bronze for Team USA. He’s 5-1-0-0 since joining the IceDogs and has allowed an average of only 1.5 goals a game lower than the 2.8 team average before he joined.

Also coming over in that same trade was fellow Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect and defenseman Josh Wesley. Wesley scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period and pretty much sealed the victory. The IceDogs know how to protect a lead and are now 18-1-1-1 after leading in the second period.

The 67’s were outplayed in the first period but Leo Lazarev made some really nice saves to keep his team in it including a couple late in the first. Lazarev continued to play well throughout the game and was beat on nice plays or through a screen of players.

“He made the saves he had to,” said Jeff Brown about his starting goalie and stating Niagara’s 4th goal is the only one he would question. “He’s been dynamite. We know what we’re going to get from him.”

On the other end, Nedeljkovic wasn’t tested as much in the first as the IceDogs limited them to 6 shots. He had to come up big and robbed Salituro midway through.  It wasn’t until the 7:48 minute mark in the second period that the 67’s were able to solve Nedelkovic. Jeremiah Addison scored the 67’s lone goal on the powerplay tipping in the puck at the side of the net off of Nathan Todd’s original shot.

Todd played one of his better games but was not able to bury one. He had 3 shots registered on net, but others that got blocked or were missed. He was also a force in faceoffs winning 82.4% of them against top line competition.

Jeff Brown has been no stranger to pull his goaltender early. Down 3-1 with 3:43 to go in the third period, he did just that. The 67’s had several good chances, but were not able to beat Nedeljkovic who shut the door early. The 67’s ended up taking a late penalty and went down 4-1 after New York Rangers’ prospect Ryan Mantha connected off a shot from the point.

The 67’s were unable to recover and fell 4-1 to the visiting Niagara IceDogs.

It’s another 3-in-3 for the 67’s. They are back on the road tomorrow down highway 7 to face the division rival Peterborough Petes and return home for a Sunday night matinee where they will host the Flint Firebirds for the first and only time this regular season.

Official game sheet here.

Game Three Stars as Selected by TSN1200:

1st Star:  Alex Nedeljkovic
2nd Star:  Brendan Perlini

3rd Star:  Christopher Paquette

Hardest Working 67's:  Evan de Haan

A few pictures from the game:

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Click here to see the rest of the pictures.

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