Kurt Walsten is anticipating some stiffer challenges in the upcoming days for his Dryden Ice Dogs.
Walsten is the head coach/GM of the Ice Dogs, who breezed through regular season and playoff action in the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
The Ice Dogs posted an impressive 45-7-4-0 regular season mark and finished a whopping 26 points ahead of their nearest rival in their six-team circuit. The SIJHL includes four clubs in northern Ontario and a pair of squads from the state of Minnesota.
Dryden also had a relatively easy time en route to winning a league championship. After receiving an opening-round bye, the Ice Dogs swept the Fort Frances Lakers 4-0 in their best-of-seven semifinal series.
Dryden also needed the minimum four games to beat the English River Miners in the SIJHL finals.
By winning the SIJHL crown, Dryden earned a spot into the four-team Dudley Hewitt Cup, which runs May 2-6. The winner of this regional tournament advances to the national RBC Cup tourney, which begins May 13 in Cobourg, Ont.
“Teams that are playing at this point are playing for a reason,” Walsten said. “You can’t take anybody lightly.”
At the Dudley Hewitt Cup, the Ice Dogs will be squaring off against a pair of Ontario Junior Hockey League teams.
As hosts, the Trenton Golden Hawks were guaranteed a spot in the event. The Georgetown Raiders, who captured the OJHL championship by defeating Trenton 1-0 on Wednesday in the seventh and deciding match of their finals series, are also participating.
Finally, the Powassan Voodoos will be representing the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
All four entrants will play three round-robin matches in three days. The club with the best record will advance directly to the championship final while the squads that place second and third will meet in a semifinal contest to determine the other finalist.
Walsten realizes the importance of having a good start in round-robin action.
“If you get off to a slow start in those games, you’re going home,” he said.
Before heading to the Dudley Hewitt Cup, Walsten will have seen some game footage of all the squads the Ice Dogs will face. But he realizes that will not give him an accurate read on opponents.
“Any time you watch a game on a computer it looks slower than if you’re watching it live,” he said.
Walsten also knows his own charges will have to remain disciplined if they wish to enjoy success at the Trenton tournament.
“We’re not going to be changing our game,” he said. “We’re a big tough team. But we can’t be taking (needless) penalties against these teams.”
Dryden was the most penalized club in SIJHL regular season action. The Ice Dogs averaged more than 20 minutes a game in the sin bin, racking up 1127 penalty minutes in 56 outings.Back to Top
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