Mississauga’s Dogged Determination To Reach Playoffs

By pbadmin
As the Mississauga Ice Dogs look back on the 1999-2000 season, they must be wondering if things will ever come together for their franchise. Once again, the Ice Dogs endured another season of turmoil on and off the ice. They lost their first game of the season to the St.Michael’s Majors with less than a second remaining on the clock after blowing a third period lead. This was to be an omen of things to come, as the team would end up with a league worst record of 9-58-1. This lousy record resulted in the usual coaching changes, with the Ice Dogs firing Head Coach Jim Hulton . However, his replacement, veteran OHL coach Geoff Ward, lasted only a handful of games. He walked out on the team before a game, surrounded by rumours that he wouldn’t tolerate Don Cherry’s meddling in the coaching of the team. Cherry’s nephew, Steven Cherry, whose only previous coaching experience was with a girl’s high school hockey team, replaced Ward. Together, with the help of Don Cherry’s brother Dick, the two made progress down the stretch with the team seeming to make some strides towards their goal of on ice improvement. Steven Cherry was only supposed to be an interim coach, however, as of this time, a new head coach has yet to be hired.

KEY DEPARTURES- G-Nick Foley, F-Scott Page, F-Julian Smith, D Marcus Smith

PROBABLE ADDITIONS- F-Patrick Jarrett, F-Mark Cranley, D-Andrew Dwyer, F-Blair Jarrett, G-Matt Collaton or G-Justin Dumont, D Sean McMorrow, RW Mike Wehrstedt, D Brent Labre

KEY FACTORS FOR SUCCESS IN 2000-2001

1. IMPROVED DEFENSE- The Mississauga Ice Dogs once again lead the OHL with 346 goals against. This area was by far the most noticable reason for Mississauga losses on most nights. Hopefully, with the return of veterans B.J Ketcheson and Omar Ennaffati and the emergence of young talents such as David Dalliday, John Jarram and Andrew Yardy, the Ice Dogs can stop the flow of opposition pucks into their net.

2. IMPROVED POWER PLAY- With a meager 13.7% success rate, the Ice Dogs weren’t much of a threat with the man advantage. Quite often they looked confused and disorganised. The lack of a Power Play quarterback contributes to this problem. Although rookie Marcus Smith showed flashes of potential in this regard in the handful of games he played, he has since been traded for more defensive defensemen in Sean McMorrow and Brent Labre. With gifted offensive players such as Lou Dockenson, Chad Wiseman, Jason Spezza and now Patrick Jarrett, there is no reason why their Power Play should not improve.

3. GOALTENDING- If your team has bad defense and can’t score with the man advantage then you know that your goaltender is going to be the busiest man in the rink. Last season, both Overager Nick Foley and rookie Mike Mole played great. However, when a team allows the second and third shot on their goalie who has already made a great save, quite often they’ll pay for that. Goaltending was the least of the Ice Dogs problems last season. With the departure of Foley, Mole will grab the reins of the number one man. A repeat of last year’s performance by Mole and his backup is what this team needs.

4. PENALTY KILLING- The Ice Dogs also trailed the league in Penalty killing percentage, only killing off 72.7% of the power plays levied against them. They do have some very capable defensive forwards in Chris Thaler and Darrell Cowen; however, their defense as noted above is a liability in these situations. The additions of Sean McMorrow and Brent Labre from Kitchener are an attempt to address their glaring deficiencies on the blueline.

OUTLOOK

If the Ice Dogs wish to build on their late run of success last season, then the hiring of their next head coach will be the key. The short list for head coach is rumored to include Ted Nolan, Frank Carnavale and possibly interim Head Coach, Steve Cherry. Whomever inherits this team will acquire a team with some very talented, young players. With the proper coaching both on and off the ice, there is no reason why Mississauga can’t field a competitive team in 2000-2001. In fact, a playoff position is not out of the question for the upcoming season as the Ice Dogs main rivals, the St.Michaels Majors, have done little to improve their team in the off season. If players such as Spezza, Dickenson, Wiseman, and Jarrett all perform the way they are capable of then look out, as these ‘Dogs may very well have their day.

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