The 2019-2020 Niagara IceDogs season is in the books for the OHL, and although the season ended due to unfortunate circumstances, the IceDogs can look back at this season and use it as a learning tool.
While the season started in great fashion with a win against the Sudbury Wolves, the rest of the season didn’t produce results the organization had hoped.
Niagara now shifts it’s focus to the OHL Priority Selection, where the team will have the 2nd overall selection. But they will be able to reflect on some different storylines (both positive and negative).
Akil Thomas ends his IceDogs career by capturing Gold with his country
Akil Thomas was named IceDogs’ captain at the beginning of the season, and in the first half of the season he dominated the OHL.
Thomas had 44 points in the first 27 games of the season, he then left for Team Canada’s World Junior roster.
While playing more of a 4th line and penalty killing role at the tournament, Thomas had his signature moment in the Gold Medal game.Late in the 3rd period against the Russians, Thomas got a partial breakaway and scored the eventual Gold Medal winning goal for his country.
Niagara honoured Thomas when he returned from the tournament with a special pre-game ceremony. This would be Thomas’ final moment as an IceDog in the Meridian Centre.
It was a perfect way for (arguably) the best player in franchise history to cap off his IceDogs career.
Thomas finished his IceDogs career with 275 points in 201 games and was beloved by the entire IceDogs’ fanbase.
Despite unfortunate injury, Tucker Tynan shows he can be a #1 Goalie
Although his season ended prematurely due to an unfortunate injury, Tucker Tynan was the best storyline for the IceDogs this season.
The goaltending situation was a huge question mark heading into this season, Stephen Dhillon was gone and the team didn’t have a true #1 goalie to rely on anymore.
Tynan then stole the show.
Tynan appeared in 23 games for Niagara, posting an 11-8-4 record, a .910 SV% and a 3.80 GAA. To put that into perspective Tynan’s 11 wins are more than Niagara’s other three goalies have combined (7).
Niagara now has a player in the organization they can rely on as a #1 goalie, pending his recovery continues to go well.
Niagara prepares for the future with Thomas and Tomasino trades
Heading into the season, a lot of people might have guessed Akil Thomas could be on the move but no one would have guessed that Phil Tomasino would also be on the move.
Niagara used this season’s trade deadline to recoup draft capital and prepare themselves for the future.
Butler showed his offensive upside by scoring 13 points in his 27 games with Niagara (playing with a depleted forward group).
The nine draft picks from Oshawa will help the IceDogs bring in some much-needed young talent that they lost out on by going all-in last season.
Add in the 2nd overall pick in this year’s priority selection and the IceDogs will have some top-notch young players coming into the organization.
14-game losing streak
While the IceDogs had some positives this season, their season will be remembered for one thing… 14-game losing streak.
Niagara lost Tynan, then traded their best offensive players (Lodnia aside) and saw a slew of injuries deplete their roster.
All of this culminated in Niagara going on a disastrous 14-game losing streak. The streak saw them go from comfortably in the final playoff spot to battling with Kingston and North Bay for a potential 1st overall selection.
Three separate times on the streak the IceDogs gave up double-digit goals, a monumental third period collapse to Guelph that saw them give up a 2-goal lead late in the third and many more disappointing moments.
The streak is a defining moment that Niagara will have to use as a teaching tool for their next season, and hopefully the team will use it as a motivational tool going forward.
The season also saw a lot of other interesting storylines for the IceDogs:
– Ivan Lodnia takes over as captain for Thomas
– Mason Howard showed he’s a leader on this team
– Isaac Enright showed he can be a core piece on Niagara’s blueline
– The team’s biggest need next season is forwards who can contribute right away
With the 2019-2020 season officially in the books, Niagara and it’s fans will now shift their focus to the 2020-2021 season.