IceDogs roll over Colts on home ice
Akil Thomas earns first-star honours with five-point night against Barrie
Akil Thomas recorded his second five-point game of the season as the Niagara IceDogs rolled over the Barrie Colts 7-2 Thursday night at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.
Thomas, a 2018 second-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings, said a hard week of practice that emphasized on special teams was key in the IceDogs victory.
Niagara went 3-for-6 with the man advantage.
“All week I felt really good in practice," said Thomas, who now has 3 goals and 10 assists on the season.
“I think this week we worked on special teams more than we ever had worked on them before in my two years. We really focused on having a good special teams this weekend, and obviously a good start here so far.”
In fact the three stars on the night — Thomas, first; Kirill Maksimov, second; and Ivan Lodnia, third — combined for 12 points as Niagara improved to 4-2-1-0 on the season.
Maksimov’s four-point game gives him 152 career Ontario Hockey League points and ties him with Thomas for the team lead this season at 13.
Lost in the lopsided win was a stop Stephen Dhillon made in the opening minute of the game robbing OHL leading scorer Ryan Suzuki with a paddle save.
“It was huge,” said IceDogs head coach Billy Burke. “Even though he’s a goalie, he’s a fifth-year guy, a veteran, a leader for us, and that save energized our bench.
“If that goes in, who knows how this game goes."
“That save woke us up for sure,” Thomas said. “They (Barrie) were kind of taking it to us, and after that save we kind of just woke up and we took it to them, so I think
that was a key point in the game.”
Dhillon turned aside 37 Colts shots as Niagara held a 42-39 shot advantage.
The two teams will now meet again Saturday in Barrie as the IceDogs open a three-game road trip with stops in Sudbury and Erie as well.
“It was good week, a lot of video, hard week and hard on the guys but it turned out alright and the guys sure played great tonight,” Burke said.
“It will be a completely different game (Saturday). They’re always very hard to play at home. They can score in bunches as well, so we have to make sure we’re ready for them.”
’Dog Biscuits: Liam Ham, Drew Hunter and Elijah Roberts – all lower body - were not in the lineup for the IceDogs ... Maksimov and Ben Jones have registered at least a point in all seven Niagara games this season ... The IceDogs honoured former St. Catharines Teepee Stan Mikita before the game as his former linemates Bob Corupe and Bob Ewer joined St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik at centre ice for the ceremonial puck drop and watched as a Mikita banner was unraveled in between the two Teepees championship banners at Meridian Centre. Former Teepees Pat Stapleton and Terry McGuire were also in attendance.