Cap­tain Strome leads the way

The last player re­main­ing from team’s in­au­gu­ral sea­son in Hamil­ton awarded the cap­tain’s ‘C’

The Hamilton Spectator - - Sports - TERI PECOSKIE

It was a strange week­end for Matt Strome.

“I’ve been go­ing around like, ‘oh, re­mem­ber the first ...’ and then no one else was here,” he said. “I kind of have to stop my­self and ex­plain the whole thing.”

Now that Bran­don Saigeon and MacKen­zie En­twistle are gone, Strome is the only player on the Bull­dogs ros­ter re­main­ing from the team’s in­au­gu­ral sea­son in Hamil­ton four years ago.

He said it’s “very weird,” es­pe­cially with­out En­twistle, his close buddy and long­time team­mate, around.

But he’s ex­cited for the fu­ture, what­ever it holds.

“I love the new guys,” he added — play­ers like Cameron Supryka, Eric Hen­der­son and Jan Jenik, who all came to Hamil­ton in the lead up to the trade dead­line.

“They’re re­ally good, they’re good in the room, and now we’ve just got to keep build­ing on this week­end.”

The Bull­dogs won twice: 4-0 against the vis­it­ing Kingston Fron­te­nacs Satur­day and 6-5 in over­time against the host Flint Fire­birds the pre­vi­ous evening. Strome was awarded the cap­tain’s ‘C’ shortly after scor­ing the OT win­ner.

“He de­serves it,” said head coach Dave Mat­sos. “He’s a great leader and he’s a great men­tor. The guy does ev­ery­thing the right way for us.”

Strome, mean­while, said it was “awe­some” to be named the third cap­tain in team his­tory after En­twistle and Justin Lem­cke. New­comer Hen­der­son and Arthur Kaliyev will also serve as al­ter­nates along­side vet­eran Isaac Nurse.

“It was just re­ally cool to have that on my jer­sey and to know that guys are look­ing up to me on and off the ice,” Strome added.

“I re­ally en­joy it and I’m go­ing to em­brace the mo­ment.”

For the Bull­dogs, Fri­day’s game — their first since the dead­line — marked the start of a new era. In­clud­ing Saigeon and En­twistle, 15 play­ers have now moved on from last year’s OHL cham­pi­onship squad and, un­like a lit­tle ear­lier in the sea­son, the team is of­fi­cially in re­build mode.

So far, those left be­hind have made the most of their ex­tra ice time and op­por­tu­nity. Jenik, for in­stance, wasted no time in notch­ing his first OHL goal against Flint, while Liam Van Loon and Kade Landry both found the back of the net for the first time in months, against Kingston.

Lo­gan Mor­ri­son also scored in both games, while fel­low rookie Zach Roy reg­is­tered his first OHL shutout with a 25-save per­for­mance Satur­day.

“It’s just cap­i­tal­iz­ing,” said Mat­sos. “It’s not easy, but I think our young guys are do­ing a phe­nom­e­nal job.”

That said, it will only get more dif­fi­cult for the new-look Bull­dogs as the cam­paign wears on and they start to face bet­ter com­pe­ti­tion. The Fire­birds and Fron­te­nacs, re­spec­tively, are in last and sec­ond-last place in the league. Mat­sos ad­mit­ted “it’s go­ing to be tough,” and Strome agreed. But the 20-year-old winger plans to keep his head up and hopes his younger team­mates will fol­low his lead. “Not ev­ery game is go­ing to go as we want it to and we’re still go­ing to make mis­takes. A lot of things are go­ing to go wrong,” he said.

“I think it’s on us to not get down when things are go­ing bad. If that hap­pens, we’ve just got to stay pos­i­tive and keep look­ing for­ward.”

NOTES: Dave Mat­sos doesn’t

ex­pect D.J. King to be side­lined for long after suf­fer­ing what ap­peared to be a shoul­der in­jury and leav­ing Satur­day’s game early. The same can’t be said, how­ever, for fel­low de­fence­man

Conor Ali, who in­jured his hand against Saginaw Wed­nes­day. Mat­sos had no time­line for his re­turn but did say he doesn’t ex­pect Ali to be back any time soon. The Bull­dogs are also miss­ing blue­liner Michael Renwick, who is out in­def­i­nitely with a shoul­der in­jury suf­fered back in Novem­ber.


Matthew Strome, in his first game as cap­tain of the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs, just missed tip­ping this one in, but found the back of the net later against the Kingston Fron­te­nacs on Satur­day night.


Goalie Za­chory Roy of the Bull­dogs, above, was a bar­rier to play­ers such as Kingston’s Ryan Craw­ford on Satur­day, post­ing a 4-0 shutout.

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