Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Oshawa Generals @ Niagara IceDogs - March 26, 2013

The Niagara IceDogs have faced the Oshawa Generals three times in their five previous post-seasons in Niagara.  Niagara lost in six games to Oshawa their first season after relocating from Mississauga, two years later Niagara beat Oshawa in five games en route to the conference finals.  Last season Niagara beat Oshawa in six games.  Both those seasons Niagara was the favourite to win and the higher seed, this year the tables were turned, and Niagara, coming off a run to the OHL Finals (which were cancelled for some reason) has a depleted roster and is the sixth seed to Oshawa's third.  Buzzing the Net gave the IceDogs an 11% chance to win this series, and after watching the first two games, I was inclined to believe them.

Game 1 - Niagara 2 @ Oshawa 5 - Shots NIA 19 OSH 32
Game 2 - Niagara 3 @ Oshawa 4 - Shots NIA 26 OSH 38

Both games featured plenty of roughing penalties and Oshawa was doing a good job getting under Niagara's skin and throwing them off their game.

Work was busy this year and I only made it out to two regular season games, and they were both on free tickets (Thanks to my Dentist Dr. Darryl, so I'll give him a plug.  Smith Family Dentistry in downtown St. Catharines), which was the opposite of last year where I was at half the home games + playoff dates.  However, my wonderful wife surprised me with tickets to the only first round game I could attend, and off we went!

What a game it was, the IceDogs Game Day staff went all out as they do in the playoffs.  Three things stood out the most to me:

1) Giveaways.  Lots of "Go Dogs Go" signs from last year being given away, but instead of the Rally Towels of the past 2 seasons there were cardboard fans at each seat.  Hold it sideways and smack it on anything, your hand, the glass, your wife (don't worry, I convinced her to date me by drumming on her head, so it's a thing we do), made a ton of noise and you were more inclined to keep it going longer than with clapping, since there's no wear on the hands.  Great idea because noise is something that travels well around The Jack.

Oshawa Generals 2013 Playoff Shirt
2) New use of the video screen.  More & more traditions have been making their way into The Jack.  A Ric Flair "WOOOO!" after each IceDogs goal and yelling "WHO CARES?" after the announcement of the opponents goal.  A new one I saw last night was on the video screen when a visitor got a penalty "B-O-X / B-O-X / BOX BOX / BOX BOX BOX / WOO!" I'm all for chants and this one is great.  The second was very clever and only used for this series (unless we play Belleville next).  The Oshawa Generals slogan for the playoffs is "Make 'Em See Red", sine they wear red sweaters at home. Well, after each IceDogs goal the video screen would show a goal light and say "WE LOVE TO SEE RED".  Brilliant.

3) The Laura Secord Drum Band.  I liked hearing that NCAA teams have the schools marching band in the stands, and the IceDogs continuing to invite the Secord drummers is one that I hope continues each year (also having the visiting teams block of seats next to the band is a nice touch).

For the game play itself it was fantastic, from what I saw.  I keep buying them, but NEVER seat near the benches.  Damn players and coaches keep standing up blocking out the far corner of the ice.

Anyway, the game was fast, hits were hard, and the roughness from the past two games continued.  HOWEVER, the teams switched sides.  The IceDogs fed off the noise, the crowd, the taunts, and the Generals were the ones being tossed off their game.

A couple notes here:

1) Steven Shipley - Two goals, one assist, took a puck to the face, got stitched up and came back out.  That sums up the playoffs, right there.

2)IceDogs line changes - Since the home team changes last, a tactic used by Marty Williamson was to wait for the Generals to be lined up for the face off, then call his guys back for a line change.  it wasn't done every time, but after two changes in a row you could see the frustration on the players faces and the coaching staff of the Generals.

3) Game Misconducts - Mack Lemmon was giving a game misconduct and 4 min for charging when he rushed in to avenge a player who had just been checked from behind head first into the boards (by Brown, OSH).  I think the misconduct was a result of the officials getting fed up with this series and wanting to take control then (hint, they didn't calm anything down). Oshawa also had a game misconduct which brings us to...

4) Lucas Lessio - A subject for a post all in it's own, but the crowd is no fan of Lucas'.  An IceDogs draft pick who said he was going NCAA until his rights were traded to Oshawa, then he changed his mind.  Which is his right, it's a popular tactic to going where you want (see Domi, Max & Lindros, Eric), but it's also the crowds right to boo the one that spurned us.  I'm no fan of the homophobic insults used (you suck dick!) or the sexist ones (hey, where's your purse?), or outside the confines of the rink in general, but booing when he has the puck, and cheering his penalties and hits, well that's hockey.  Playing here tends to make him lose his cool and did he ever.  You could see the drive in his eyes to score a goal and show us all up.  Which he did. Except it didn't count.  As soon as the puck hit the net the refs were waving it off.  He either didn't notice or care, because he swiped the ice and fist bumped his bench anyway.  the third period is where this story picks up.  A roughing, then a slashing, then a goal tending interference in the third period, which set him off on a tantrum that including slamming his stick, holding open the penalty box doors to scream at the ref, then a game misconduct.  2 years ago when the Generals were eliminated by Niagara he got a game misconduct and flipped off the rink on his way out.  Can't wait for game 4 on Thursday.

All in all, it was the best game I've been to as a fan since the last second win over Brampton in last seasons playoff opener. The team has stepped up their game on the ice and in the front office.  Here's hoping they can continue all spring.


  1. Can't edit on the road but uh.....IceDogs won 4-2. Cant believe i forgot that

    *waves pom poms half-heartedly*