Niagara IceDogs

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Niagara IceDogs
Niagara IceDogs Logo.svg
City St. Catharines, Ontario
League Ontario Hockey League
Conference Eastern
Division Central
Founded 1998 (1998)–99
Home arena Meridian Centre
Colours Red, black, white
General manager Canada Marty Williamson
Head coach Canada Marty Williamson
Affiliate(s) St. Catharines Falcons

Franchise history
1998–2007 Mississauga IceDogs
2007–present Niagara IceDogs

The Niagara IceDogs are a major junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League based in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The franchise was originally known as the Mississauga IceDogs and founded in 1996. The team was relocated to St. Catharines and played its inaugural season in the Niagara region during the 2007–08 OHL season after spending 9 seasons in Mississauga. The team is owned by Bill and Denise Burke.


Niagara IceDogs in action at home versus Barrie Colts.

Italic text===Early Years, 1998-2007=== The Mississauga IceDogs inaugural season began in 1998-99, and the team struggled, winning only 4 of 68 games. In their first three seasons, the IceDogs won a total of 16 games, in 204 games played. The nine season tenure in Mississauga saw the IceDogs finish with a .301 win percentage in 612 regular season games and win one Central Division and Eastern Conference Championship.


On July 12, 2006, Eugene Melnyk, who owned the Toronto St. Michael's Majors, bought the Mississauga IceDogs. After the 2006–07 season, Melnyk sold the IceDogs, and moved the Majors to the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. The team approached the City of St. Catharines about moving the team into Jack Gatecliff Arena. St. Catharines City Council voted on a leasing arrangement on April 23, 2007, which passed. The OHL Board of Governors approved the deal on June 5, 2007.[1][2]

Brown/Cicchillo Era, 2007-2010[edit]

2007–08 season

The IceDogs entered their first season in Niagara ranked in the CHL's top ten, but soon fell out of the league's top rankings. The team played their first regular season home game against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors in front of a sellout crowd on September 21, 2007. The IceDogs won the game, defeating the Majors 4-1. Over the course of the season, the IceDogs developed a major rivalry with the Mississauga Majors. In December, right-winger Stefan Legein represented Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Ice Hockey Tournament and earned a gold medal in the process.

On January 8, 2008, the IceDogs acquired goaltender Sebastian Dahm from the Sudbury Wolves in exchange for goaltender Andrew Loverock, defenceman Chris van Laren, a 3rd round draft pick in 2009 and a sixth round draft pick in 2010. Dahm finished the season with the IceDogs, earning a record of 20-6-0-0, a GAA of 2.53 and a save percentage of 0.917.

After selling out (3,145) their first home game, attendance figures remained low until Christmas. After Christmas, however, attendance increased significantly. The IceDogs finished the year averaging 2,722 fans and led the league with 15 sellout crowds.

The IceDogs finished the regular season with 82 points, three shy of Brampton for the central division title. Luca Caputi finished the season with 111 points (4th in league scoring) while Michael Swift's 100 points put him 8th in league scoring. The team total in penalty minutes (1463) led the league.

2008–09 season

The IceDogs began the 2008–09 season considerably younger than they ended the previous season. Gone were the likes of goaltender Sebastian Dahm, Michael Swift (age), defenceman Matt Corrente (AHL), leading scorer Luca Caputi, Stefan Legein and Alex Pietrangelo. The core of the roster was made up of 16, 17, and 18 year olds and the team was plagued by inconsistent play at the start of the year.

On November 13 (21 games into the season) it was announced the St. Louis Blues were returning 4th overall selection Alex Pietrangelo to the Niagara IceDogs for an additional year of development at the junior level.[3] He had played a total of eight games with St. Louis prior to being reassigned. On April 10, 2009, he was assigned to the Blues' top minor-league affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen in the American Hockey League.[4]

The IceDogs hosted one of two Ontario games in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge on November 22. The IceDogs were represented by draft-eligible forward Andrew Agozzino and defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, while Coach Mario Cichillo was selected to serve as the team's assistant coach. The OHL squad won the game 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd. The winning goal was scored by Agozzino.

In December, forward Marco Insam represented Italy at the World Junior Championships ('B' Pool), while Pietrangelo was named to Canada's World Junior team, which won a fifth straight gold medal. The Dogs were once again active at the trade deadline, acquiring Patrick Lee and former World Junior goalie and Nashville draft pick Jeremy Smith from Plymouth for three draft picks. The Dogs had previously traded defenceman Scott Fletcher to Plymouth for a draft pick, which was sent back to Plymouth as a part of the Smith trade. After acquiring Smith, the Dogs shipped goalie John Cullen to the Kingston for a draft pick. In two separate trades with divisional rivals Brampton, Niagara acquired Mike Hasson and two draft picks for Andrew Merrett, Josh Day, and a draft pick.

2009-10 season

The IceDogs began the season without Alex Pietrangelo, who spent the first part of the season playing in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, and without a 2009 first round draft pick. The IceDogs selected forward Lucas Lessio with the 7th overall pick, but Lessio refused to sign with the IceDogs and was sent to the Oshawa Generals in early September for a compensatory first round pick, a second round pick, and a conditional draft pick. Despite not having Lessio in the line-up, the team broke came with a young roster including three sixteen-year-olds.

In November, fan favorite Chris DeSousa and defenceman Jay Gilbert quit the team and demanded a trade. In advance of the trade deadline, the IceDogs dealt Gilbert to the Plymouth Whalers, and in a blockbuster trade, sent DeSousa, goalie Petteri Simila, and Alex Pietrangelo (who had yet to be reassigned to the OHL) to the conference leading Barrie Colts for first-round pick Ryan Strome, defenceman Simon Gronvaldt, and a package of draft picks. Following the trade, the IceDogs had five sixteen-year-olds on the roster, making them the youngest team in the league and providing a solid core for the teams rebuilding process.

Marty Williamson Era, 2010-Present[edit]

2010-11 season

In May, the IceDogs became the first team in OHL history to have two first round picks, their own (6th overall), plus an additional compensatory pick they received for being unable to sign 2009 first round pick Lucas Lessio. The IceDogs used those picks to select two defencemen, Jesse Graham and Luke Mercer. However, two days after the draft, the team announced that it had fired General Manager Dave Brown and was letting go of Head Coach Mike McCourt and his assistants. In July, the IceDogs announced that they had signed Marty Williamson to a five-year contract as both Head Coach and General Manager. Former NHL defenceman Mike Van Ryn was later added as the team's assistant coach. Days prior to the opening game, the IceDogs acquired forward Steven Shipley (Buffalo's 4th round selection in 2010) from the Owen Sound Attack in exchange for Andrew Shaw, Matt Petgrave, and draft picks. Within a week, Niagara added three more NHL draftees: overage defenceman Tim Billingsley, a former Phoenix Coyotes draft pick, was picked up from the St. Michael's Majors for a 4th round draft pick, New York Rangers draft pick Jason Wilson was acquired from Owen Sound in exchange for Andrew Fritsch, and David Pacan, a Chicago Blackhawks pick, was signed by the IceDogs after leaving the NCAA.

2011-12 season

In August, assistant coach Mike Van Ryn left to coach in the AHL and was replaced by former Guelph Storm coach and GM Jason Brooks. Later, the IceDogs were forced to trade first round draft pick Adam Bateman to Windsor after he refused to report to camp.

Ready to take the next step after losing in the conference finals to Mississauga, Niagara completed numerous trades to bolster their lineup to take a shot at the OHL title. Arriving at different times in the year were former Soo captain Brock Beukeboom, Tom Kuhnhackl from Windsor, Brett Ritchie from Sarnia, and Jamie Oleksiak from Saginaw. All four of these acquisitions were NHL draft picks. At the end of the season, the Dogs were playing with 12 NHL draft picks, including four 1st round picks.

The season would prove to be the best year in franchise history as the IceDogs won their first Central Division and Eastern Conference Championships but then ultimately fell to the regular season champion London Knights in 5 games in the OHL finals.


Emms Trophy
Central Division Champions

  • 2011-12

Bobby Orr Trophy
Eastern Conference Champions

  • 2011-12


Mario Cicchillo was promoted from assistant coach in 2006–07 for Mississauga, to become the first coach of the Niagara IceDogs after it was announced that head coach Mike Kelly resigned to accept a senior advisory position with the team.[5] In August 2009, Cicchillo was fired and assistant coach Mike McCourt was named interim head coach. In early May 2010, the IceDogs announced that the team would not be renewing the contracts McCourt and his assistants. Former Barrie Colts coach/general manager Marty Williamson was named coach and general manager of the IceDogs in late May 2010.

  • 2007-2009 Mario Cicchillo
  • 2009-2010 Mike McCourt (Interim)
  • 2010–present Marty Williamson


NHL Alumni[edit]

NHL Draft Picks[edit]

Award Winners[edit]

Ontario Hockey League[edit]

Bobby Smith Trophy
Scholastic Player of the Year

Dave Pinkney Trophy
Lowest Team G.A.A.

Ivan Tennant Memorial Award
Top High School Academic Player

Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy
Overage Player of the Year

Max Kaminsky Trophy
Most Outstanding Defenceman

Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy
Captain of the Year

  • 2011-12 – Andrew Agozzino

OHL Executive of the Year

  • 2007-08 – Denise Burke

Canadian Hockey League[edit]

CHL Defenceman of the Year

CHL Scholastic Player of the Year

Current Roster[edit]

Number Player Catches Position Birth year Place of birth Acquired NHL Status
1 Canada Mackenzie Savard L G 1997 Dowling, Ontario Free Agent Eligible 2015
30 United States Stephen Dhillon L G 1998 Buffalo, New York 3rd round (2014) Eligible 2016
31 Canada Brent Moran L G 1996 Orleans, Ontario 2nd round (2012) 4th round DAL (2014)
Number Player Shoots Position Birth year Place of birth Acquired NHL Status
3 Canada Brian Brosnan R D 1995 Ilderton, Ontario 15th round (2011) Free Agent
4 Canada Vince Dunn L D 1996 Peterborough, Ontario 6th round (2012) Eligible 2015
5 United States Blake Siebenaler R D 1996 Fort Wayne, Indiana 15th round (2012) 3rd round CBL (2014)
6 Canada Luke Mercer R D 1994 Toronto, Ontario 1st round (2010) Free Agent
20 United States Zach Wilkie L D 1997 Villa Park, Illinois 2nd round (2013) Eligible 2015
22 United States Ryan Mantha R D 1996 Clarkston, Michigan Trade SSM (2014) 4th round NYR (2014)
28 United States Aaron Haydon R D 1996 Plymouth, Michigan 1st round (2012) 6th round DAL (2014)
29 Russia Aleksandar Mikulovich L D 1996 Chelyabinsk, Russia 2nd round - Import (2013) Free Agent
Number Player Shoots Position Birth year Place of birth Acquired NHL Status
2 Canada Ben Hughes L C 1996 Barrie, Ontario 4th round (2012) Free Agent
7 Denmark Mikkel Aagaard L LW 1995 Frederikshavn,Denmark 1st round - Import (2014) Free Agent
8 Canada Billy Jenkins R LW 1994 Ottawa, Ontario Trade KIN (2013) Free Agent
9 Canada Jordan Maletta R RW 1995 St. Catharines, Ontario Trade WIN (2013) Free Agent
10 Canada Anthony DiFruscia L LW 1995 Thorold, Ontario 2nd round (2011) Free Agent
11 Canada Brendan Perlini L LW 1996 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Trade BAR (2013) 1st round ARZ (2014)
13 Canada Graham Knott L LW 1997 Holland Landing, Ontario 3rd round (2013) Eligible 2015
14 Canada Christopher Paquette R C 1998 Kingston, Ontario 2nd round (2014) Eligible 2015
15 Canada Matt Gillard L LW 1996 Welland, Ontario 4th round (2012) Free Agent
16 Canada Mitchell Fitzmorris L LW 1995 Ingersoll, Ontario Trade KIN (2013) Free Agent
19 United States Cody Payne R RW 1994 Weston, Florida Trade SAG (2014) 5th round BOS (2012)
21 Canada Carter Verhaeghe L C 1995 Waterdown, Ontario 2nd round (2011) 3rd round TOR (2013)
23 Canada Johnny Corneil L C 1997 Lindsay, Ontario 4th round (2013) Eligible 2015
24 Canada Hayden McCool L LW 1997 Whitby, Ontario 1st round (2013) Eligible 2015
29 Canada Cody Caron R RW 1996 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario 7th round (2013) Free Agent

Team records[edit]

Single season records[edit]

Career scoring and goalie leaders[edit]

These are the top-ten point-scorers in regular season franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed OHL regular season.

Player GP G A Pts Seasons
Andrew Agozzino 318 159 147 306 2007–08 to 2011–12
Ryan Strome 191 100 181 281 2009–10 to 2012–13
Freddie Hamilton 258 108 144 252 2008–09 to 2011–12
Alex Friesen 292 91 153 244 2007–08 to 2011–12
Dougie Hamilton 213 40 147 187 2009–10 to 2012–13
Steven Shipley 194 72 94 166 2010–11 to 2012–13
Carter Verhaeghe 194 50 92 142 2011–12 to 2013-14
David Pacan 133 49 77 126 2010–11 to 2011–12
Jesse Graham 223 15 100 115 2010–11 to 2013–14
Chris DeSousa 160 66 48 114 2007–08 to 2009–10

These are the top-five goalies (ranked by wins) in regular season franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed OHL regular season.

Player Mins W L OTL SOL GAA SVP SO Seasons
Mark Visentin 9429 89 55 4 12 2.75 .911 14 2008–09 to 2011–12
Christopher Festarini 5412 42 40 3 4 3.08 .895 5 2011–12 to 2014-14
Brent Moran 1488 21 29 2 2 3.97 .885 0 2012–13 to 2013-14
Sebastian Dahm 1517 20 6 0 0 2.53 .917 2 2007–08
Andrew Loverock 2091 16 17 0 1 3.56 .891 1 2007–08

Season-by-season results[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Legend: OTL = Overtime loss, SL = Shootout loss

Season Games Won Lost OTL SL Points Pct % Goals
2007–08 68 42 25 0 1 85 .625 272 214 2nd Central
2008–09 68 26 31 5 6 63 .463 213 264 4th Central
2009–10 68 26 34 2 6 60 .441 191 233 4th Central
2010–11 68 45 17 2 4 96 .706 273 197 2nd Central
2011–12 68 47 18 0 3 97 .713 291 169 1st Central
2012–13 68 30 34 2 2 64 .471 227 250 4th Central
2013–14 68 24 35 3 6 57 .419 223 284 4th Central


Season 1st round 2nd round 3rd round Finals
2007–08 W, 4–0, Mississauga Majors L, 4–2, Oshawa Generals
2008–09 W, 4–3, Ottawa 67s L, 4–1, Belleville Bulls
2009–10 L, 4–1, Ottawa 67s
2010–11 W, 4–0, Brampton Battalion W, 4–1, Oshawa Generals L, 4–1, Mississauga Majors
2011–12 W, 4–2, Oshawa Generals W, 4–0, Brampton Battalion W, 4–1, Ottawa 67s L, 4–1, London Knights
2012–13 L, 4–1, Oshawa Generals
2013–14 L, 4–3, North Bay Battalion

Uniforms and logos[edit]

The IceDogs colours are red, black and white. The home jersey is black with red, black and white sleeves with two crossed dog bones on each shoulder. The away jersey is white with red, black and white sleeves with two crossed dog bones on each shoulder. The Niagara logo is a Bull Terrier (modelled after former team part-owner Don Cherry's famous dog, "Blue") playing hockey in hockey gear. The team wears red and black CCM gloves and CCM helmets (black or white, depending upon their jersey colour).


Meridian Centre[edit]

The IceDogs are scheduled to move into the Meridian Centre in September 2014 for the beginning of the 2014-15 OHL season. Located at 1 Ice Dogs Way in St. Catharines, the Meridian Centre will feature a combination of 5,240 permanent and retractable seats.

Jack Gatecliff Arena[edit]

The Gatorade Garden City Complex, formerly known as the Garden City Arena and the Jack Gatecliff Arena, is a publicly owned and operated facility in St. Catharines. It is located at 8 Gale Crescent and features two ice surfaces (the Rex Stimers Arena and the Jack Gatecliff Arena). The IceDogs played in the Jack Gatecliff Arena of the complex for 7 seasons. The arena's capacity is 3,145 including standing room, making it smaller than most CHL arenas. With an ice surface of 190 x 85 feet, its dimensions are also smaller than the typical CHL ice surface. It is commonly referred to by fans as 'the Jack'.

The original arena was built in 1932 and became the oldest arena currently used in the CHL following the Windsor Spitfires move to the WFCU Centre in 2008–09. It was previously used by the St. Catharines Teepees, St. Catharines Black Hawks, St. Catharines Fincups and the St. Catharines Saints. Renovated in 1996, it was named after local sportswriter Jack Gatecliff.

Niagara Falls Memorial Arena[edit]

On March 1, 2009, the Niagara IceDogs hosted a home game at Niagara Falls Memorial Arena in nearby Niagara Falls, Ontario. The arena, slated to close in 2010, was the former home to both the Niagara Falls Flyers and the Niagara Falls Thunder. The game was billed as the last OHL game in the arena. The announced crowd of 3,167 was the largest home crowd in franchise history.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]