You don’t have to look too far to see how much the game of basketball has grown in Canada.
It was just Tuesday night of this week when four of the top five Twitter trends in Canada involved the National Basketball Association (NBA) and in particular one Canadian player.
There’s a reason Matt Ellis went undrafted and carried that into a 10-year NHL career. In fact it can summed up in two words – work ethic.
It’s something the Welland native has prided himself on, and something he plans to carry over off the ice into his new role as Director of Player Development with the Buffalo Sabres.
Quick, when was the last time the Buffalo Bills won a playoff game?
Despite making the National Football League post-season two out of the last three years, the answer might shock some.
December 30, 1995.
It might not have been world record pace, but it was definitely close – and impressive.
Lucas Bahdi’s first nine months as a professional boxer produced a perfect (9-0) record, and all victories were via knockout or stoppage.
“The first memory of the sport I have was not the best one. I remember going out there and being so, so nervous. I couldn’t feel my arms, my neck became so stiff I could barely turn my head – wow.”
Not the words you would expect to hear from a wrestler recently determined to be a future Canadian Olympian, but Richard DesChatelets Jr. is just that.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many people to do and try different things.
Look no further than Sportsnet’s and Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, who decided to go live on television with the beard he grew during the first few months of the pandemic.
Jay Triano will never forget Friday nights at A.N. Myer High School in Niagara Falls.
That’s where the current lead assistant with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets began to make his mark on the basketball court.
It was a trip to an Ottawa Senators game that completely changed Jensen Murphy’s life.
The Buffalo Sabres were in town, and a certain goaltender named Dominek Hasek was between the pipes.
The Ontario Hockey League, in collaboration with its 20 teams including the Niagara IceDogs, has announced its return to play plans.
The league, like most across Canada, halted play back in March when the coronavirus hit.
It was trending on twitter during its first day of action on national television, nine days later the round robin portion of the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) Summer Series is about to wrap up.
Seven teams from across Canada are competing for a championship trophy including the host Niagara River Lions.
Mac Hollowell grew up idolizing Darcy Tucker.
Although Tucker played a different position and Hollowell is not the antagonizer the pesky forward was, the 21-year old Niagara Falls native has always loved the Toronto Maple Leafs.
How will the Blue Jays look in a shortened season?
Most casual baseball fans have heard the name Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by now, but many don’t know the other young talent on the Toronto Blue Jays roster.
Former Niagara IceDogs captain Ryan Strome takes us through what the New York Rangers have done and are doing.
There is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyday life.
There is a term in sports – late bloomer.
Connor Walters is just that.
The 23-year old Welland native, former OHL (Ontario Hockey League), and Brock Badgers blueliner really found his stride at the Canadian University level after five seasons of major junior hockey with the Owen Sound Attack and Hamilton Bulldogs.
Sabrina D’Angelo has represented Canada at some level since she was 14 years old.
The Welland native, and soccer goalkeeper, has proudly worn the red and white at the provincial, national, and international level.
When you think of sports in the Region, hockey, rowing and even lacrosse may come to mind but what about cricket?
Yes, believe it or not cricket in Niagara dates back to the early 1800’s.
The sport itself is believed to have originated in England during medieval times.
The sound of leather gloves pounding canvas heavy bags, or bare fists keeping rhythm on a speed bag.
For over a century it’s been the norm at Napper’s Boxing Club in Welland.
Growing up in Regent Park in Toronto Charles Kissi could have only dreamed of what he’s accomplished decades later.
Over 40-percent of the residents in the Toronto neighbourhood are considered low income.
And sometimes those residents didn’t see eye to eye or respect authority – in particular the Toronto police.
Niagara, and the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines, could be featured in a proposed basketball tournament that will be broadcast live across Canada on CBC Television.
As of now the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) tournament hinges on government approval during the Covid-19 pandemic and where Niagara stands in terms of a stage and restrictions. The Region currently sits in stage two of recovery.
The following is a special Father’s Day edition of our sports column by Niagara Independent sports reporter Rod Mawhood.
The Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame class of 2020 has a real St. Catharines feel to it.
In fact, a whole former St. Catharines team will be entering the Hall this year.
The 1990-1991 St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics will be honored in the ‘Team Category.’
The message is simple – it can happen to any of us.
Dan Giancola was a professional football player, turned personal trainer. Yet two Wednesday’s ago, after conducting an online training session, he suffered a heart attack.
It’s a little later than hoped for, but considering the circumstances the powers that be at Fort Erie Race Track are ecstatic that later today the bugle will sound to officially kick off the 123rd horse racing season at what truly is a Niagara Institution.
June 16, 1897 – Fort Erie Race Track officially opened.
It was a welcome announcement from Premier Doug Ford a couple of weeks back – ‘golf courses can reopen.’
However the game of golf, or at least the normal golf course routines as most of us knew them, has changed, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
The sport of rowing dates back well over a century in St. Catharines.
It was 1903 to be exact that the St. Catharines Rowing Club was founded, the same year the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta moved to Martindale Pond in Port Dalhousie for good.
Almost two decades as a professional wrestler, including over five years working for the biggest promotion in the world, you would think Shawn Spears (real name Ronnie Arneill) would be happy with where his career is at
It’s certainly thinking outside the (batters) box.
The Welland Jackfish, like most sports franchises during these trying times, would like to be welcoming their fans to Welland Stadium for a summer of baseball.
The year 2020 will forever be engraved in our minds as a time of change. The world as we knew it will never be the same.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic everyone has done their part in trying to lessen the burden we all face on a daily basis.
Luca Caputi wishes he played more than one season in Niagara with the IceDogs.
Caputi is still the only IceDog to score 50 (Jason Robertson did so but with Kingston and Niagara combined) or more goals in a season.
It was just after his appearance at Romby’s Tavern & Smokehouse in St. Cathairnes, in early March, that Sportsnet’s – and the host of Toronto Blue Jays baseball – had a premonition.
“Sometime around then, when we hosted there, I was just trying to figure out a good way of reaching out to Blue Jays fans and sort of keeping the line open with them,” said Jamie Campbell from his home in Toronto.
Sports origins date back at least 3,000 years. In fact the first Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. Sports have been a positive distraction for many on both a national, international and of course local level.
The oldest organized sporting franchise in Niagara, still in existence, is the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics lacrosse club.
The Niagara IceDogs were poised to make their highest pick ever, since arriving in the Region back in 2007, in this past Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft.
First round, second overall.
He played almost 20 years of professional baseball, including 15 in the major leagues.
Yet if you ask former MLB all-star Woody Williams his favorite baseball memory his answer might surprise you.
The game of basketball has been good to Ryan Anderson.
The now 32-year old Seattle, Washington native has traveled the world through sport.
Anderson has played in the Netherlands and numerous cities across North America including here in Niagara with the River Lions.
Emily Allan’s air mile account will see a significant increase as the winter athletic season expires. Rightfully so.
The Brock University Associate Director of Athletics will visit at least two if not three provinces in a 10 day span.
An impressive (17-5) regular season has transformed into something even more special for the Brock Badgers Women’s Basketball team.
That record has now been improved by three more victories, an Ontario University Association (OUA) Critelli Cup Championship and a trip to the USports Final 8 – National Championships – later this week in Ottawa.
Despite the recent weather in Niagara, March is only hours away and that means the boys of summer will be back.
Not since the days of the St. Catharines Stompers, in the mid to late 1990’s, has baseball been so prominent in the Region. And you can thank the Welland Jackfish for that.
As the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League – Golden Horseshoe Conference – regular season wraps up this weekend only one first round playoff series remains in question.
Will either St. Catharines or Hamilton finish third or fourth respectively, and play either Thorold or Pelham?
What some so called experts and pundits predicted may not work, has been exactly the opposite.
In fact – it’s been a roaring success.
Professional basketball is about to embark on its fifth season here in the Region with the Niagara River Lions.
The smell of what was then the Nabisco plant – now Post Foods Canada Corporation – was Todd Simon’s first memory of Niagara Falls.
Simon arrived in the Honeymoon capital in 1989, and three short years later left his mark on the city and Region he now calls home.
Just 27 years old, it’s hard to believe that Kirsten Moore-Towers has been figure skating since she was two.
The St. Catharines native is a two-time Canadian Pairs Champion with Sarnia’s Michael Marinaro after capturing earlier this month in Mississauga.
It’s called the Memorial Cup of Lacrosse, and it’s coming to St. Catharines this summer.
The 2020 Minto Cup – the Canadian Jr. A Lacrosse Championship – has been awarded to the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics.
In the span of less than two weeks Akil Thomas has gone from being the captain of the Niagara IceDogs and second round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings, to a household name across Canada.
It started on Sunday January 5 when the now Peterborough Petes forward scored the game-winning ‘Golden Goal’ in Canada’s 4-3 victory over Russia at the World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic.
Most Niagara IceDogs fans knew general manager Joey Burke needed to restock his teams draft cupboard after last season’s ‘all in’ campaign.
Well Burke did that and then some during this week’s Ontario Hockey League trade deadline.
Niagara is blessed with a wide range of sporting franchises. All of which add to the unique cultural surrounding sports across the Region.
The Niagara IceDogs lead the pack when it comes to fall and winter sports across Niagara.
A .500 hockey club. Fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings. A record of (7-2-1) over their last 10 games heading into the Christmas break. Many would say the Niagara IceDogs organization should be happy with the unofficial first half of the 2019-20 campaign.
Head Coach Billy Burke agrees.
From NHL goaltender, to St. Catharines Transit bus driver, to Director of Goaltending for NHL Central Scouting.
The story of Al Jensen is an interesting one.
Born in Hamilton, Jensen started playing goal for the same reason many kids do that first lace up the pads.
The regular season crown might already be out of reach, but the battle for second place in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League – Golden Horseshoe Conference – could come down to the wire.
It’s clear the Caledonia Corvairs, after taking a one-year hiatus from league play, are the class of the Golden Horseshoe but after that – just three points separate the second place Niagara Falls Canucks and third place St. Catharines Falcons.
What if Johnny Augustine got his original wish and never moved to Welland?
Perhaps he wouldn’t be the Grey Cup champion he is now.
Augustine’s dad, Saint-Ange, moved the family to Welland in Johnny’s grade nine year.
Niagara is home to dozens of professional lacrosse players and coaches. Perhaps none bigger than all-world goaltender Matt Vinc.
When it comes to Canada’s national summer sport there isn’t anything the 37-year old St. Catharines native hasn’t won.
What a difference a year can make.
After finishing its 2018 season with a (1-7) record, the Brock Men’s Rugby team won an Ontario University Athletics bronze medal last weekend, and can improve on that starting tomorrow in Montreal as Concordia University hosts the Canadian University Championships.
It’s amazing to think Tonya Verbeek didn’t start wrestling until she was sixteen years old while attending Beamsville Secondary School.
It was now colleague and fellow coach Dave Collie that brought women’s wrestling to the high school.
Growing up as the youngest of six siblings, competition and sports were always a part of Wanita May Dykstra’s life.
In fact it led the now 44-year old to more than she ever expected.
It will be a first for Niagara College.
This Friday and Saturday former Knights will gather on Niagara College’s Welland Campus for ReuKnighted.
Past athletes, and alumni from the college’s broadcasting and sports management programs will come together for two days of celebration, sports and recognition.
As the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals prepare for Game 6 of the World Series tonight, one particular gentleman – with ties to St. Catharines – is hoping the Nationals can rebound from three straight losses at home and force a Game 7 in the fall classic.
Ralph “Rocket Wheeler” called the Garden City home back in the 1980’s and nineties.
Willy Manigat sounds like a seasoned vet. A veteran head coach.
You would never guess he’s just months into his new, and first, role as a head coach.
Manigat was named bench boss of the Brock Badgers Men’s Basketball team back in June, and officially took over the job on July 5.
It was four years ago this past week that Matt Gillard’s life changed – but thankfully not forever.
The then 19-year old was living the dream. A Welland native playing for one of the top junior hockey league’s in the world, in essentially his hometown, for the Niagara IceDogs.
When your professional baseball career spans 17 seasons, and features a World Series Championship with the New York Yankees, you might think one would forget about St. Catharines, Ontario and Community Park but David Weathers isn’t your average former major league pitcher.
In fact, the Tennessee native lists St. Catharines as his favorite pro baseball memory.
He’s dedicated over 40 years of his life to the game of soccer.
And he wouldn’t have any other way.
Rob Lalama began his coaching career at the age of fourteen, and did so to help out one of his brothers.
Holden Garlent was quick with his answer when asked whom he thought of first when he donned a Saskatchewan Rush jersey and hat at the 2019 National Lacrosse League (NLL) draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Garlent was drafted in the first round, fourth overall, by the Rush and is listed as a defense/transition player.
When you lose nine regulars from your line-up the previous season any team would acknowledge a rebuild is underway.
Enter the 2019-20 Niagara IceDogs who feature 12 new faces to this year’s squad.
Gone is five-year veteran goaltender, and franchise wins leader, Stephen Dhillon, Ben Jones, Ivan Lodnia, Kiril Maksimov, Canadian Hockey League (CHL) leading scorer Jason Robertson, Jack Studnicka, Jacob Paquette, Johnny Schaefer and Matt Brassard.
With Pelham, and the newest arena in Niagara, serving as the back drop the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League kicked off its season this past weekend.
Over 20 teams made the trek down Highway 20 to play in the GOJHL Showcase at the Meridian Community Centre.
You don’t hear or see this too often.
A father and son coaching the same sport at the two biggest educational institutions in the same Region.
But it’s happening right here in Niagara.
It may still be August, and summer is winding down, but the sounds of pucks hitting the glass and the train horn going off at Meridian Centre is fresh on the mind of many hockey fans across the Region.
Yes, Niagara IceDogs training camp opens today, and preseason game action begins Friday night for the team that has called St. Catharines home since 2007.
The Welland Jackfish will begin their first ever playoff round tonight. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that wouldn’t agree the Welland Jackfish inaugural season in the Rose City was a massive success. The team averaged 776 fans over 18 regular season home games. What’s more impressive? It’s the first time the franchise […]
August has officially arrived and that means Niagara IceDogs hockey is just around the corner. In fact the IceDogs, who arrived in Niagara back in 2007, kick off their pre-season schedule August 30 at the Vale Centre in Port Colborne against the Barrie Colts.
Earlier this week the team announced, and finalized, its coaching staff for the 2019-20 season.
A promising regular season, and playoff outlook, came to abrupt end Sunday night for the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics lacrosse club.
The Athletics were defeated in six games in the Ontario Lacrosse semi-finals by the Burlington Chiefs.
“This is obviously not what we wanted,” said A’s head coach Steve Toll who didn’t want to make excuses but admitted injuries were a factor down the stretch.
The Fort Erie Race Track has been one of Niagara’s crown jewels since 1897, and tonight the biggest race at the Fort for the last eighty plus decade’s takes place with the running of the 84th Prince of Wales Stakes – the second jewel in Canada’s triple crown of thoroughbred horse racing.
Five horses make up the field for the race that will begin just before 7:40 p.m, and broadcast live across the country on TSN.
The St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics first round playoff opponent is a familiar one. For the third time in four years, the Athletics will meet the Six Nations Arrows in the opening round of the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse Association playoffs.
The previous two series have been sweeps. The Athletics last season, and the Arrows in 2016.
As Canadians from coast to coast celebrated Canada’s 152nd birthday yesterday, one professional athlete with Niagara roots has a special recollection of why this country is so special.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats kicker Lirim Hajrullahu fled worn torn in Kosovo as a youngster and found his way to St. Catharines.
Summer brings back many fond memories for this reporter, but none maybe fonder than my first professional sports announcing gig.
It was 1996, and I was lucky enough to be working in the big smoke and at Canada’s largest radio station – 680 News in Toronto.
I remember meeting with then St. Catharines Stompers’ General Manager John Belford at the team’s office on Merritt Street, and getting the job.
Phil Tomasino joined an impressive list this past Friday night in Vancouver, British Columbia – the site of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Tomasino joined the list of Niagara IceDogs players drafted in the first round, as he was selected 24th overall by the Nasville Predators.
There was a definite Niagara feel to the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup victory this week.
No fewer than three former Niagara IceDogs sipped from Lord Stanley’s mug after the Blues bested the Boston Bruins in seven games with a 4-1 win Wednesday night.
Former Niagara IceDogs captain, and current St. Louis captain, Alex Pietrangelo was huge for the Blues during the post-season.
You may remember the name Cory Annett from his Canadian Football League playing days, but did you know he was a first round, third overall, pick in the 2002 CFL Draft?
Annett remembers draft day vividly because he gathered friends and family around for what he expected would be a long day.
A lot of people want to leave work early to hit the golf course – weather permitting of course – well Dan Pino’s job is literally at the golf course.
And not just any course, but Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario. It’s one of Canada’s most famous golf courses, and the home of Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. It’s hosted 30 Canadian Open’s.
And for the last almost 20 years it’s been Pino’s work place.
There’s no doubt expectations are high for the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics in 2019.
And three games into their season the Athletics, thus far, are living up to the hype.
Coming off their best campaign in over a decade in 2018, the A’s are (3-0) to start this season, including Wednesday’s 7-4 win over the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves.
It’s been 30 years since Intercounty Baseball League action was played in the Rose City.
That all changes this Saturday at Welland Stadium.
Despite a rain out last weekend, all systems are a go for a planned home and season opening celebration Saturday at 1 p.m.
Thirty-eight years, and counting, dedicated to the sport of boxing.
Former Canadian Olympian, and Niagara Falls native, Mike Strange can thank his neighbour for getting him to step into the ring for the first time.
Saturday night, almost two decades later, the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist will enter the Ontario Boxing Hall of Fame.
Simon Gatti’s soccer career spanned the globe.
Sunday afternoon at Seaway Mall that career came full circle as the current head scout for the Montreal Impact (MLS – Major League Soccer) Academy entered Welland’s Sports Wall of Fame.
“I’m honoured and privileged,” said Gatti who began playing soccer in the Rose City at the age of five, and before long was running up and down the field with players much older.
There was a definite Thorold Blackhawks and Niagara IceDogs feel to the Cardiff Devils this season.
And that Niagara connection was a big reason why the Devils were crowned Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) champions.
Joey Martin, and Sean Bentivoglio – both of Thorold – and Mike Hedden of Dunnville all played on a line together as Cardiff beat Belfast 2-1 in the championship game last Sunday.
“They say the hockey world is small, and this kind of proves it,” said Martin who recently joined the Niagara Sports Report on 610 CKTB.
There’s no denying that the Grimsby Peach Kings are one of the most successful teams in Ontario junior C hockey history.
In fact, only one team has won more Schmalz Cup’s than the Peach Kings at five. The Essex 73’s with seven.
Friday night a quest for a sixth championship begins for Grimsby when they travel to Napanee to take on the Raiders in game one of the best of seven series final.
Frank Pietrangelo had one goal this season – get to the Sutherland Cup.
Sixty-three games later, he’s closer than he’s ever been as head coach of the Niagara Falls Canucks.
The Canucks, now seated as the second seed, open a best of seven Ontario Hockey Association semi-final series against the Waterloo Siskins tonight at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls.
The Canucks haven’t been to the Sutherland Cup finals since 2011.
Saturday was a big day for five Niagara hockey players and their families.
The 2019 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Selection was held and four players from the Niagara North Stars organization and one from the Southern Tier Admirals were drafted.
Connor Federkow was the first local to have his named called as the London Knights drafted the St. Catharines native in the third round, 53rd overall.
The Niagara IceDogs will take on the Oshawa Generals in the second round of OHL playoff action. It’s almost becoming a spring tradition. For the sixth time since 2011, the Niagara IceDogs and Oshawa Generals will face each other in Ontario Hockey League playoff action. This time it’s in the OHL Eastern Conference semi-finals which […]
It may have a new name in 2019 but the product it houses is still the same – a great baseball experience.
Buffalo Bisons baseball inside what is now called Sahlen Field.
In fact, professional baseball in Buffalo dates back to 1877. The current Bisons were born in 1979 when the then-Eastern League AA team was formed in the city.
The Niagara IceDogs capped off a very successful regular season with a number of milestones as they now prepare for what many are predicting to be a long playoff run.
Firstly, they claimed the Ontario Hockey League Central Division crown for the first time (and second time in Niagara IceDogs history) since 2012.
Secondly, the club also featured three 100-point scorers as Jason Robertson won the OHL scoring title with 117 points, including 79 in just 38 games since coming to Niagara in a trade with Kingston last November.
There was not much suspense in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League – Golden Horseshoe Conference – quarter-finals, but that will likely change in the semi-finals which begin tonight on two fronts.
Three of the four teams in the semis advanced with four-game sweeps in their opening round playoff series.
The top seeded Niagara Falls Canucks swept Lockport, second ranked St. Catharines toppled Welland in four straight games, while number three Hamilton got by Fort Erie in four as well.
How many people can honestly say they knew the first Canadian ever to win a Cy Young award has a connection to St. Catharines?
Ferguson Jenkin’s Foundation is alive and well, and is indeed located in the Garden City.
The 76-year old Chatham, Ontario native now calls Arizona home, but recently told the Niagara Sports Report on 610 CKTB how the foundation formed in St. Catharines.
Fifty-five years and counting.
Although not officially declared, the Merritton Athletic Association/Wissahickon Skating Club hockey exchange is the longest tenured exchange in North America if not the world.
What begin in 1964 has become an annual event every February featuring two teams from both organizations – in the peewee and bantam age group – travelling to each other’s home rinks and playing a weekend of hockey which features an exhibition game, championship game, banquet and all the life lessons and friendships one can imagine.
His resume speaks for itself.
And Monday night, fittingly on a basketball court, Ken Murray was inducted into the Ontario Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Brock Badgers legend was officially recognized at centre court Monday night at Scotiabank Arena when the Toronto Raptors hosted the Brooklyn Nets.
It’s one thing to come to a new country and visit, but it’s a whole other level when you move to Canada to play hockey and everything that comes with that.
New food. New culture. Billets. New teammates.
The list goes on and on.
Enter Swiss native, and Niagara IceDogs forward, Kyen Sopa.
When one of the top names in the history of Canada Basketball endorses you, you know the Niagara River Lions made the right choice in naming Victor Raso as their new Head Coach and General Manager earlier this week.
“He’s been around the game his entire life, and this is the next step,” said Canadian national team head coach and current NBA – Charlotte Hornets – assistant coach Jay Triano.
“He has the attitude of a coach and isn’t afraid to keep learning.”
If there was any doubt about the Niagara IceDogs intentions this season, they were put to bed this week.
The IceDogs acquired two more National Hockey League drafted players giving them a total of nine on their 21-man roster.
General Manager Joey Burke’s latest deal involved a trade with Oshawa Generals.
The Niagara IceDogs are well represented at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship.
No fewer than three IceDogs were named to their respective countries teams.
Forward Jason Robertson is playing for Team USA, defenseman Daniel Bukac for the Czech Republic, while Kyen Sopa did make the Swiss team but was sent back to Niagara after sustaining a minor injury during training camp.
Niagara IceDogs entered the holiday break as one of the hottest teams in the Ontario Hockey League.
The IceDogs picked up 15 of a possible 16 points over their last eight games to close out the unofficial first half of the season sporting a (20-7-5) overall record in the OHL Eastern Conference standings.
And they did that without icing a complete line-up for the majority of their first 32 games.
In fact, only five Niagara players have suited up for every game thus far this season.
“Yes, we’re very happy where we are at,” said IceDogs head coach Billy Burke. “We have dealt with adversity and injuries all year and to finish with 20 wins and only seven regulation losses is a great accomplishment.”
It was the best Christmas present a hockey player could receive.
A call saying “you made the team.”
And not just any team, but Team Canada.
That was the case for 18-year old Shailynn Snow of the Ridley College Tigers Prep Girls hockey team earlier this week.
“Once I hung up the phone after hearing from the Team Canada assistant coach (Courtney Kessel) all my emotions escaped and I started crying and couldn’t stop,” Snow said.
The Niagara IceDogs have made no bones about it – the 2018-19 season is a go-for-it year.
That was the message since day one of training camp, and it was solidified last week as IceDogs general manager Joey Burke pulled off a huge trade with the Kingston Frontenacs.
Burke dealt sophomore defenceman Billy Constantinou and second year forward Ian Martin, along with 11 draft picks, to the Frontenacs for a pair of 19-year olds in winger Jason Robertson and blue liner Jacob Paquette.
As the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) season approaches the midway mark, it’s become quite clear that the Golden Horseshoe Conference could come down to two local teams.
Both the Niagara Falls Canucks and St. Catharines Falcons are beginning to separate from the rest of the pack in the eight-team division.
The Canucks began the week as the top team with an (18-2-1) record and 37 points, with the Falcons nipping at their heels just six points behind with two games in hand at (15-3-1) at 35.
Seventeen games into their 2018-19 campaign is exactly the quarter-pole for the Niagara IceDogs and their 68 game Ontario Hockey League schedule.
And sitting at (10-5-2-0) – good for first place in the OHL Central Division standings and second overall in the Eastern Conference – head coach Billy Burke is happy with where his team is situated.
Burke is especially pleased, and pleasantly surprised, with three young blueliners, including a pair of rookies who had to step up their games when Liam Ham, Drew Hunter and Elijah Roberts missed a total of 34 man games to injury.
One has to wonder what kind of attention John Chayka would receive if he was working in a larger market, or for a team that’s been around for longer than 22 years.
Many think Toronto Maple Leafs’ 32-year old General Manager Kyle Dubas is the youngest GM in the National Hockey League.
Raise your hand if you knew the youngest general manager in the history of the NHL works for the Arizona Coyotes, and more importantly hails from Jordan, Ontario.
The Niagara IceDogs were the fifth ranked major junior team in the country to start the season, and despite a hiccup in Peterborough last Thursday night have lived up to the early hype in the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference standings.
The IceDogs sit at (3-1) on the season after picking up four of a possible six points this past weekend.
Thursday in Peterborough, Niagara jumped out to a 2-1 first period lead but was shutout the rest of the way.
Quick hockey trivia question.
Name a league with just eight teams, that features a Stanley Cup Champion and two former first round National Hockey League picks as head coaches?
The answer – the Golden Horseshoe Junior B hockey league that consists of six teams from right here in the Niagara Region.
St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie, Thorold and Pelham are the six teams that hail from Niagara, while Hamilton and Lockport, NY round out the eight-team league.
There’s an adage – look good, feel better.
That saying definitely rings true for the Niagara IceDogs hockey club, thanks in large part to two individuals who spend countless hours making sure the IceDog players feel good, and look even better.
Pete Dobbin has been with the Ontario Hockey League franchise for 11 seasons as Athletic Therapist, while Nick Hornby is entering his third season as Equipment Manager.
“My typical day starts with a morning workout with the older boys (players),” said Dobbin a 44-year old Niagara Falls native who has also worked with Baseball Canada in the same capacity.
The Niagara IceDogs felt lucky that Lleyton Moore was still available when it was time to make their first round selection at the 2018 Ontario Hockey League Priority draft back in April.
A few months later the 12th pick overall is making the most of his first OHL training camp, and more importantly making the Niagara brass happy they selected the former Toronto Marlboro minor midget player.
Moore had a fantastic opening week of training camp, and donned an IceDogs jersey for the first time last Friday night in Thorold in a pre-season game against Barrie.
“It was a great experience, and just a surreal moment,” said the 16-year old, 5’8, 165-pound defenceman.
“Being a part of the IceDogs organization is amazing, and playing my first exhibition game was just a great feeling for me and my family. It was an exciting moment.”
You won’t find too many OHL coaches with the experience of Jody Hull.
And now the sixteen-year NHL veteran, and former first round pick of the Hartford Whalers is bringing that experience to the Niagara IceDogs.
Hull, a 49-year old Petrolia, Ontario native was recently named Associate Coach of the IceDogs, taking over from the departing Ted Dent who accepted a scouting position with the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes.
The Niagara IceDogs are one of just two Ontario Hockey League franchises to make the playoffs every year over the past 11 seasons.
Not an easy accomplishment for a team that arrived in St. Catharines from Mississauga back in 2007.
Since then, only the London Knights can claim to have the same success as the IceDogs.
He’s still jet-lagged, but Joe Fletcher wouldn’t change his part-time job for anything.
The Niagara Falls native just returned from Russia and the 2018 World Cup where he had the opportunity to work nine games – three on the field – and six in the video room.
It was Fletcher’s second consecutive World Cup appearance after refereeing in Brazil in 2014.
For the third straight year the Toronto Maple Leafs are using the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls as part of their training camp.
In 2016 the Leafs held their development camp in the Honeymoon City, while last year their main training camp was in the Falls.
This year, once again, their main camp will consist of three days of on-ice and off-ice events in Niagara Falls.
A new chapter in Niagara College athletics began this week as Welland native Michele O’Keefe returned home to take over the role as Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation.
The former President and CEO of Canada Basketball returns to the Rose City after working in the sport of basketball on and off for 24 years.
Akil Thomas is a darn good player. This past weekend he became a stronger person off the ice.
The projected, all season long, first round NHL pick had to sit through 50 picks before his name was finally called Saturday morning in Dallas, Texas, site of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
By the end of this week Akil Thomas’ life could change.
The 18-year old Niagara IceDogs forward, and Brandon Florida native, will be drafted to the National Hockey League.
The only question – what round and what team will take the talented player that’s called Niagara home for the past two hockey seasons?
There’s a local connection – in fact two of them – at this week’s FIBA U-18 Americas Championship basketball tournament at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.
The Bediako brothers, who both play for the Ridley College Tigers Prep Team, are suiting up for Team Canada.
Jaden, 17, is a 6-foot-11 centre, while younger brother Charles, who just turned 16, is a 6-foot-9 centre/forward.
Both brothers grew up in Brampton before making the trip down the QEW to join the Tigers.
The Niagara Region continues to grow its sporting landscape. Look no further than the past three years when the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines has landed national or international events including the 2016 IIHF U-18 Women’s World Hockey Championships, the 2017 Canadian Women’s Curling Championships (Scott Tournament of Hearts) and now the 2018 U-18 […]
Sixteen years old, and drafted to the OHL.
Might sound great to some, but what’s lost is your leaving home. You’re off to a new school. New friends. New teammates. All part of the process that many often forget.
And what about the parents? They’re entrusting a new billet family with ultimately their son’s future.
How many people across Niagara know the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame is located in St. Catharines? Or that the St. Catharines Jr. A Athletics have been around since 1877?
Don’t worry you’re not alone.
The Jr. A Athletics lacrosse club is one of the oldest sporting traditions in all of Canada.
The in-arena setup is second to none. The atmosphere is electric. Most importantly, the quality of basketball is on par with any professional team across North America.
The Niagara River Lions are in their third year of existence, playing out of the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines, as part of the National Basketball League of Canada.
If the regular season was any indication, the Niagara Ice Dogs would be the favorites heading into their second-round playoff series against the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Unfortunately, most in the world of sports know the regular season means nothing when it comes to the post-season – especially in hockey.
The Ice Dogs entered the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference standings but won five of six games against the top-ranked Bulldogs during the regular season.
As the Niagara IceDogs get to set to embark on yet another playoff run – their eleventh straight since arriving in St. Catharines – head coach Billy Burke feels his team doesn’t get the respect it deserves.
Entering play on Friday the IceDogs hold down fourth place in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) Eastern Conference Standings, and will likely play the Oshawa Generals in the first round of the playoffs.
“Regardless if we get home ice or not, I still think a lot of people will see us as underdogs,” Burke, the first year Niagara head coach, said.