The Niagara IceDogs defeated the Western Conference’s first place Saginaw Spirit by a score of 5-4 in what proved to be a close battle between the two powerhouse teams at the Gatorade Garden City Complex Thursday night.
Ryan Strome led the team with three assists, while Steven Shipley played his best game in an IceDogs uniform thus far as he added a goal and assist. Freddie Hamilton also played a stellar game as he notched an impressive shorthanded goal, while Jason Wilson, Andrew Agozzino, and Alex Friesen each chipped in with markers of their own to boost the ‘Dogs to a 5-4 victory.
The IceDogs opened the scoring early after a Saginaw clearing attempt sent the puck off the glass and awkwardly out into the middle of the Spirit's zone right onto the stick of Ryan Strome.
Strome then made a perfect pass to Steven Shipley who made no mistake in putting the puck into the net to give the 'Dogs a 1-0 lead.
Saginaw evened the score up at the 18:43 mark after Andrew Agozzino took a bad goalie interference penalty, allowing Saginaw scoring leader Josh Shalla to pick up his 13th goal of the season.
Niagara answered right back as Ryan Strome set up yet another goal by making a beautiful saucer pass from behind the goal line right onto Jason Wilson's tape, who then put the puck past Spirit goalie Mavric Parks to give the 'Dogs a 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.
The second period was scoreless until the 11:38 mark when Freddie Hamilton potted a shorthanded goal on a fancy give and go with Steven Shipley to put the IceDogs up 3-1.
Steven Shipley nearly picked up his second goal of the game moments later, but the goal was disallowed as the whistle was blown before the puck went into the net. However, the IceDogs did pick up another power play as Garret Ross went off for charging.
The fact the goal was disallowed didn't mean much as Niagara then capitalized on the power play. Andrew Agozzino scored his 11th of the season to up their lead to 4-1. Ryan Strome also picked up his third assist of the night on the play, while Dougie Hamilton also helped the cause by adding an assist.
The 'Dogs would take the 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
Niagara continued to put on a scoring clinic as Jesse Graham picked up his second assist of the evening by making a beautiful breakout pass to send David Pacan and Alex Friesen on a 2-on-0 breakaway. Pacan then made an easy pass to set up the open net for Alex Friesen who scored to give the 'Dogs a 5-1 lead.
The Spirit answered back quickly as Alex Racino put one past Visentin at the 3:27 mark of the third to cut the lead to 5-2.
Dougie Hamilton then took a penalty for high-sticking, giving the Spirit a power play opportunity and Brandon Saad converted to bring the game to an even closer score of 5-3.
Saginaw then followed up with a third unanswered goal by San Jose Sharks acquisition Michael Sgarbossa shortly after to bring the game within one goal.
However, Niagara managed to hold onto their 5-4 lead, even with Saginaw pulling their goalie in efforts to tie the game up.
The IceDogs will return to action this coming Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. as they play host to the division rival Sudbury Wolves at the Gatorade Garden City Complex.
Plenty of great seats still remain for this game, and tickets can be purchased at any IceDogs ticketing location. For more information, please contact the IceDogs office at 905-687-DOG1. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Jeff Blay, Media Relations
1. NIAG Shipley, (7) (Strome), 1:52
1. SAG Shalla, (13) (Sgarbossa, Telegin), 18:43 (PP)
1. NIAG Wilson, (6) (Graham, Strome), 19:47
2. NIAG Hamilton, (9) (Shipley, Gronvaldt), 11:38 (SH)
2. NIAG Agozzino, (11) (Strome, Hamilton), 18:40 (PP)
3. NIAG Friesen, (9) (Pacan, Graham), 1:03
3. SAG Racino, (3) (Ross), 3:27
3. SAG Saad, (11) (Trocheck, Szwarz), 4:33 (PP)
3. SAG Sgarbossa, (4) (Trocheck), 7:24