"Dogs roster takng shape

Exhibition game in Goderich halted by tornado
Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

Kincardine was in the process of blowing away the Goderich Sailors Sunday afternoon, when a much more serious situation arose.

The Carruthers Nicol Insurance Kincardine Bulldogs held a 6-1 lead at the Sifto Centre in Goderich, when a F2/F3 tornado touched down. The game was called off when winds reaching nearly 300km/hr knocked out power to the Sailors home arena.

“I have to say that’s a first,” said head coach Jeff Alcombrack, who said his team had been playing well in the Western Junior C preseason game leading up to power outage. “I’ve never seen that happen before, not even when I played down in Texas.”

The players waited out the storm at the arena, and were stuck in Goderich for about 45 minutes following the game because Highway 21 was closed to traffic. Paul Boyadjian was in goal for exhibition contest, and looked good for Kincardine as the ‘Dogs took a 1-0 lead after the first before scoring five unanswered second period goals. It was the second meeting of the teams in four days.

Veteran Ryan Armstrong, right, reaches for a puck Thursday night in Western Junior C exhibition action at the Davidson Centre. (Josh Howald photo)

The first game, in Kincardine Thursday night, didn’t end with a tornado but it did have an exciting finish. Joel Alton scored with 4.4 seconds remaining to lift the Bulldogs to a 3-2 preseason win. Tiverton’s Alex Legrand and Josh Gonzalez each scored once in the win. Easton Battler got the win in goal, making 20 saves while the Bulldogs fired 44 shots at the Sailors net. Colton Pickett and Chase Duckworth replied for the Sailors.

“For the first game of the season, I thought the boys looked great,” said Alcombrack. “The effort was there, they just had a little trouble finding the back of the net.”

This year’s roster is beginning to take shape. As of Monday morning, the team had signed 12 players to cards for the 2011 season. Returning players include Alton, Legrand, Scott Miller, Jamie Miller, Ryan Armstrong, Shawn Stewart and captain Paul Stewart. Recent acquisitions Justin Ainslie and goaltender Gatlin Burt have both signed cards, as have locals Brad Mangotich and Phil Bernath. The only other signing to report is that of behemoth forward Josh Gonzalez.

“He makes our smaller players bigger,” said Alcombrack. “He patrols the ice and he will stick up for anyone.”

He’s hard to miss at nearly 6”5’ and 230 pounds. His skating needs to be polished, but the ‘Dogs think he can develop into an effective player. He chipped in a goal Thursday night and bounced several Goderich players around. He suited up for the Norwell District Secondary School Redmen last year.

Alcombrack says there are no easy decisions left. The most interesting training camp battles will be for the one card available for a 16-year-old, and the goaltending spot behind Burt. Matt Baker, Carter Strachan and Ripley’s Greg Scott are each seeking the underage spot – and all are defenceman. In goal, Keegan Woodman is being challenged for the back-up role by Boyadian and Battler. All three are from Kincardine. Boyadjian played for the Grey-Bruce AAA Highlanders last season, while Battler started for the Miller midgets.

“They are all good players, and good kids. As coaches, we’re going to have some tough decisions to see who sticks around. It’s tough, for sure, but we will be taking whoever plays the best in the next few games.”

Training camp continues tomorrow night with a practice, followed by a Sunday game at the Davidson Centre against the Mount Forest Patriots. Next Wednesday, those two teams will play a rematch in Mount Forest.