Earlier this month the IceDogs were short-handed on the backend, forced to play Akil Thomas and Ivan Lodnia on the point.
The team had traded Drew Hunter, lost Elijah Roberts and Mason Howard to injuries and had a lack of veteran presence in their lineup.
GM Joey Burke acted swiftly, acquiring Adrien Beraldo from Kingston in exchange for a 13th round selection.
Beraldo has been a veteran presence on the blueline
The IceDogs’ defensive lineup features three rookies, two of which are 16-year-olds(Landon Cato and Isaac Enright).
In the span of one weekend, the IceDogs traded away Drew Hunter and lost veterans Elijah Roberts and Mason Howard to injuries.
Three key subtractions left a massive hole on Niagara’s blueline.
“It was unfortunate timing with trading Hunter and losing our top two defenceman right away but we survived in the short-term,” said Billy Burke.
“I always liked him (Beraldo) in Peterborough and Kingston and were really happy to have him.”
Beraldo stepped in as the 2nd oldest defenceman on the IceDogs’ roster and has been a natural fir through his first five games.
After appearing in only 5 games through the first two months of the season, Kingston decided to trade the Stoney Creek native.
Beraldo a former Peterborough 5th round pick split his first three seasons between the Petes and the Frontenacs.
“He brings veteran character and leadership, grit and toughness to our young, developing team,” said GM Joey Burke after the trade was announced.
“He’s been such a calming influence for us, you can tell he’s been in the OHL for years,” said Head Coach Billy Burke after Beraldo’s home debut.
Beraldo is finding his offence in Niagara
Before joining the IceDogs, Beraldo had 24-points (11 goals and 13 assists) in 119 career OHL games.
He wasn’t known for his offensive ability, but Niagara has leaned on him in all situations through his first five games with the club.
In those five games, Beraldo has four points, including a multi-point home debut against Windsor.
Billy Burke has relied heavily on Beraldo, giving him top-pair minutes and time on the top powerplay unit.
Beraldo has been the type of player the IceDogs have needed and the team has gone on a great stretch since his addition.
In their last five games, the IceDogs are 3-1-1 and are 3rd place in the Central Division with 20 points, five behind the Barrie Colts.
“He’s got a great shot, good hands, he’s been a great addition and it really feels like he’s been here all year,” said Billy Burke.
Beraldo’s role going forward
With Mason Howard returning in the IceDogs’ 5-4 win over the Erie Otters Thursday, Beraldo’s role wasn’t affected.
He still played top-pair minutes and played a role on the IceDogs’ top powerplay unit.
As the season goes along, Niagara will get healthy on the blueline and with Beraldo having early success, the depth on the blueline seems to be solved for now.
Niagara still wants to compete for a playoff spot, and Beraldo will seemingly have a big role in helping the team try and achieve that goal.