September 17, 2021
There was a buzz of excitement inside and outside as Junior Hockey finally returned to the Dryden Memorial Arena Friday following a 555-day COVID forced break.
And you couldn’t write a better script for the opening game of the 20th season of the Superior International Hockey League and Dryden GM Ice Dogs.
In town longtime foe Fort Frances , with a familiar face back behind the bench, Dave Allision, who is all too familiar with the storied rivalry.
The first period was a blast from the past with the Ice Dogs setting the pace with several big hits, and the Lakers quickly countering with several of their own.
That resulted in some chippy play and 28 combined minutes in penalties including the ejection of Dryden GM captain Cameron Ware, who was tossed out for a hit from behind at the 9:01 mark.
The Ice Dogs carried the play offensively with 11 shots, including three in the lone power-play of the period.
The Lakers countered with five.
Things settled in the second and Dryden GM capitalized on some home ice bounces.
Snake bit early Maxime Collette finally cashed in at 8:40 of the period, when the puck bounced off a player in front, and he buried it into an open net past a helpless Ethan Hein.
Lyle Murdock and Tyler Earl earned assists.
On the goal Collette stated, “First goal is always big, especially on home ice, bigger crowd, people are hyped up out here, they haven’t been out in a while so scoring the first one especially here was pretty big. Seemed to have got the momentum going. That’s what you want.”
Thirty-six seconds later a long shot handcuffed Hein and fell behind where an opportunistic Noah Schindel had an easy tap in.
The Ice Dogs continued to pressure a shorthanded Lakers squad, who was down to 14 players, and the hard work again paid off when Rachonne Henry cashed in on another Dryden bounce and scored into a wide-open net.
The play all started when elusive defenceman Jackson Jacques stepped around a fallen Laker and put the puck in front for the scramble.
Lang Lee also picked up a helper in the play.
Dryden GM didn’t let up in the third as they continued to forecheck and create turnovers as both teams showed that an emotional day was starting to take over.
Collette would add one more for good measure when he snapped one from the hashmarks just inside the post to make it a 4-0 game.
Chase Muswagon assisted on the power-play goal.
After the game, the 20-year-old Collette said, “It was a heck of a game out there, first game of the year, it’s always nice to play at home. Good to get back at it, obviously it’s been a while, but I think we really came together. It’s a big win on our home ice, now move on tomorrow (Red Lake) and get another one.”
Dryden GM outshot Fort Frances 42-17 with Dylan Kosick picking up his first SIJHL shutout.
Despite the loss, the Lakers never gave up including an inspired Nakoda Thunderchief.
The 20-year-old Albertan said, “You know with the certain amount of guys we had, we still gave our best effort every shift. We never backed down. Dryden came swinging hard, we expected it, but the guys didn’t back down. We battled hard all the way to the end.”
Moving forward Thunderchief stated, “I told the guys in the room, the St. Louis Blues won a Stanley Cup, but they had a rough start to the season. That’s going to be us this year. A rough start but you can expect us every game coming hard and not backing down.”
Thunderchief echoed everyone’s thoughts in the arena Friday night about being back on the ice
“Great. After a year-and-a-half. Having fans in the crowd, I don’t think there’s a better feeling. The boys were pumped up for the game.”
The announced attendance was 500.
One of the highlights was before the game when the Dryden GM Ice Dogs honoured the volunteers and health staff who have helped keep everyone safe during the COVID pandemic.
Some 100 heroes were in attendance and the game started with an opening address from team President Mike Sveinson and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon, who dropped the ceremonial puck.
Sveinson says they wouldn’t be able to play hockey if it weren’t for the community response in getting vaccinated.
“Rink 2 was used as a vaccine clinic all summer long and that kind of paved the way for us to be able to get back on the ice. The ease that we had in our community to get vaccinated and for the volunteer effort it took, if you went those clinics, you saw that it was super-efficient, of course led by the Northwestern Health Unit and Dr. Kit Young Hoon.”
Dr. Young Hoon thanked the fans, workers, volunteers, and community for following health care rules during the lockdown and getting vaccinated.
She noted the region has been a leader in vaccination efforts.
- Maxime Collette (Dryden GM) 2 goals
- Kale Hancock (Dryden GM)
- Ethan Hein (Fort Frances) 43 saves
Dryden GM Ice Dogs (1-0) at Red Lake Miners (0-0) September 18
Dryden GM Ice Dogs at Fort Frances Lakers September 24
(PHOTO CREDIT: Kerri-Ann Kanceruk and Kanceruk Photography)