SIJHL champs close their season at Central Canadian Junior A championships
By Michael Christianson
After bringing home the Bill Salonen cup and taking a trip to the Dudley Hewitt Cup the Dryden GM Ice Dogs season has come to a close.
Representing the SIJHL at the Dudley in Trenton, Ontario the boys made their mark at the tournament in their first game defeating the second best team in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
The Ice Dogs first game was against the Georgetown Raiders who claimed the OJHL championship this year. Dryden got off to a slow start allowing two goals in the first period but Jacen Bracko and Trey Palermo tied the game in the second.
In the third period Georgetown and Dryden traded goals with Nic Nosworthy and Derek McPhail scoring for the Ice Dogs and forcing extra time.
In overtime Dryden held off Georgetown and with 4:10 left in the extra frame Eric Stout secured an Ice Dogs victory.
The next day the Dryden GM Ice Dogs faced NOJHL champions the Powassan Voodoos. A close game was mired in penalties for the Dogs.
Chris Atanas scored the first goal of the game before the Voodoos tied it up.
In the second Powassan added another goal early but Kris Hamlin got the game tied up before the end of the frame.
In the third Powassan struck first but again Dryden tied it back up with a goal from Eric Stout.
A short-handed goal from Powassan garnered them a 4-3 victory.
“The first game was a roller coaster up and down but it was good to get a win out there,” said Braedan Allkins. “Unfortunately we didn’t play as well on the second day and that really set the tone for the third where we didn’t really leave it all out there like we should have but we had a lot of fun there, a lot of memories.”
On the third straight day of intense hockey Dryden played the eventual repeat tournament winners the Trenton Golden Hawks. Needing a win to stay alive the Ice Dogs faced a strong host team.
The Golden Hawks scored four goals before Bracko got the Ice Dogs on the board. Allkins added a short-handed goal to close out the frame.
In the second Trenton added five more while Hamlin scored short handed.
The lone goal of the third period belonged to Bracko, leaving the Ice Dogs defeated 4-10 and ending their shot at the Dudley Hewitt Cup.
Accolades came in for Bracko as he was named an All Star of the tournament.
“I didn’t know I was winning the award until the end of the second period of the final game. So it was kind of a surprise and I’m really happy I could win it,” said Bracko.
For all the Ice Dogs it was a tournament, and an opportunity, they won’t soon forget.
“The caliber of play was high, we expected that going down there obviously,” said goaltender Patrick Zubick. “The OJHL is a high level league and having two of their representatives there was going to be a bigger test than what we faced in our league this year.”
Noseworthy said he couldn’t have asked for a better experience in Trenton.
“It was such good hockey all the way from the first line to the fourth line they were super depth all three of those teams,” said Noseworthy. “There were about 15 Division One commits in that tournament and we obviously don’t have one so it was pretty cool we could compete against them and even happen to beat the second place team in all of Canada.”
Captain Derek McPhail praised both Trenton and the Golden Hawks for being class acts when it came to hosting. The teams had a banquet and tour before the tournament at CFB Trenton. He was happy to see the better team move on to the RBC Cup.
“The systems, the structures, the players, that all came into play there. Those teams, their puck position and their passing and just knowing where everyone is on the ice is so complex,” said McPhail. “It’s just a whole different world of hockey when you get down there to the final couple teams in Canada so I’m just glad we got to be a part of that.”