The Dryden GM Ice Dogs began their 20th Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) season with a bang as they rolled to a 4-0 win over the Fort Frances Lakers.

The fans at the Dog Pound were treated to a show last night as the Ice Dogs exploded for a three-goal second period that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Prior to puck drop, a special ceremony was held for the team's Vaccinators Night to honour the Northwestern Health Unit staff and volunteers for their hard work, and dedication through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To me, this is a great time to celebrate what we’ve achieved collectively. I know the staff at the health unit, partner agencies, and the volunteers have been working very hard at controlling the pandemic doing case and contact management, and of course, getting high vaccination rates. That has been a big effort and required lots of hours and dedicated service,” said Dr.Kit Young Hoon Medical Officer of Health for the NWHU.

Young Hoon was on hand to drop the puck at the ceremonial faceoff.

“That was great definitely a different experience for me I’ve never done that before. I brought my kids because they’ve never really been to a hockey game before so this is really enjoyable for them,” added Young Hoon.

Ice Dogs President Mike Sveinson was on hand to comment on the emotion that went into this game and what it meant.

“I’ve been so emotionally invested in this game all week, all month, all year ever since the pandemic started when we were looking forward to getting back on the ice. It’s done and we all held it together,” says Sveinson.

The game started off with a lot of emotion as there was a lot of physical play and energy for the Ice Dogs in the first period. Dryden was able to get 11 shots on the Lakers netminder in the first period, but no goals.

The second period on the other hand was a different story as mentioned before the Ice Dogs exploded for three goals. Maxime Collette broke the deadlock at the 11:20 mark of the second when he was able to tuck one through Lakers goaltender Ethan Hein.

36 seconds later the Ice Dogs struck again as Noah Schindel got his first of the season as he followed up on his own rebound and made no mistake. 

With just over seven minutes to play in the second Rachonne Henry was able to track a deflected shot in front of the net and put it in past the sprawling Hein.

Collette was able to get his second goal of the game late in the third period on the powerplay, he got a rebound and put it over the glove of the goalie.

Following the game, Collette was feeling good with his game and the team game that was played.

“It was a heck of game out there, the first game of the year it’s always nice to play at home. I think we really came together, it’s a big win on our home ice. Moving onto to tomorrow, get another one,” noted Collette.

Ice Dogs goalie Dylan Kosik stopped all 17 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and was a great way to start off.

“I felt really loose beforehand. I was really excited to finally get back out there after having a shortened season last year, and just being back on the ice really hyped me up, and I was really proud to get a win and contribute for the boys,” says Kosik.

This is the first time in over a year and a half that these players have played in front of a big crowd, but with that, the coaching staff was happy with last night's performance.

“The first period I mean everybody was nervous, it’s been a couple of seasons now we haven’t been playing any games, but I think we rallied together and we came out pretty strong in the first. Second, we slowed down a little bit and then poured it on again in the third. Overall we do have to be better but for the first game I think we’re in good shape,” said Ice Dogs Assistant Coach Andrew Perrault.

No rest for the wicked as the Ice Dogs travel up to Red Lake today for a date with the Miners to try and start the season 2-0. The puck drop is at 7:30.