Dryden Ice Dogs were good — but not overwhelming — during the 2021-2022 regular season. The Ice Dogs finished in third place in the Superior International Jr. Hockey League within range of the first place Kam River Fighting Walleye and second place Red Lake Miners. And having added multiple players prior to the January 10 trade deadline, the Ice Dogs could be set up for a playoff run.
Dryden already had a strong squad before general manager and coach Kurt Walsten went out and brought in several seasoned performers with the intent of being better built for the playoffs.
Notable additions to the Ice Dogs were four 20-year olds — goalie Cole Johnston, defenseman Jordan Gagnon and forwards Nakoda Thunderchief and Pineshish Whiteduck as well as 19-year old goalie Eric Clark.
The newcomers all added to the strength of the Ice Dogs with Gagnon making a major impact from his blue line position with four goals, 15 assists, 19 points in 19 regular season games. Meanwhile, Thunderchief had nine points in 12 games, Whiteduck had nine points in 19 outings and Johnston and Clark picked up four wins apiece down the stretch.
As mentioned, Dryden was already a formidable force before the late additions, particularly up front with Maxime Collette (45 goals, 36 assists, 81 points), Tristan Takats (27-27-54), Cameron Ware (17-28-45), Brady Frattinger (23-20-43), Ondrej Bardos (13-15-28 in just 30 games) and Derek Koivisto (17-5-22.)
Finishing third in the regular season standings with a record of 26-15-4, Dryden began the opening round of the best of five playoffs on Tuesday with a 5-0 blanking of the Fort Frances Lakers. Game 2 is tonight in Dryden.
Nothing is a given, especially come playoff time. But if Dryden gets past Fort Frances and into the semi-finals, the Ice Dogs have been well positioned to stand up to any opponent as the playoffs progress.