IceDogs roll over Colts on home ice

Akil Thomas earns first-star hon­ours with five-point night against Bar­rie

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Sports - ROD MAWHOOD

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.

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