IceDogs free agent makes the cut
Veteran returnees, and top draft picks, are usually locks to crack line-ups when it comes to Ontario Hockey League rosters.
But it’s the undrafted players signing on the dotted line that sometimes makes for great stories.
Enter 17-year old Andrew Bruder.
Two years ago Bruder was playing AA hockey before joining his hometown Woodstock Jr. C Navy Vets last season.
Bruder was noticed by Niagara IceDogs assistant coach Kris Sparre playing summer hockey earning the forward an invite to IceDogs training camp.
“It’s been totally awesome,” said Bruder who scored 16 goals and added 10 assists in 40 games for the Navy Vets last season.
Those numbers were good enough to be named South Doherty Division Rookie of the Year in the Provincial Junior C Hockey League.
“Just coming from junior C I really never thought I could be here,” Bruder said. It was always a dream. I thought maybe I could play junior B and see what happens from there, but this has been unreal.”
Niagara head coach Billy Burke knows the 6’1” 165-pound Bruder is a rare find.
“He really came out of nowhere. He just continues to prove why he should be here,” explained Burke.
“And it’s tough for guys to come in as free-agents. Sometimes guys think they’re just fillers, but once the guys get on the ice no one has a sticker that says what round they’re drafted in.
They just have to go out there and play, and (Andrew) proved that he’s smart, has good hands, and kept just getting better — he earned it.”
Bruder scored his first goal in an IceDogs uniform Thursday night in Barrie.
“You can tell he’s still growing into his body, but he’s very smart and has good hands,” Burke added.
“You can tell he’s a late bloomer, and is just going to keep getting better.
I just know he’ll have that extra step by Christmas, and another step come playoff time. He’s a really good find for us.”
As for the coaches advice.
“They told me not to change anything, just be yourself,” said a smiling Bruder who freely admits he hated hockey when given his first pair of skates at the age of four.
“My first goal is just to crack the line-up every night.”
Dog Biscuits: Ben Jones, Kiril Maksimov, Oliver Castleman, Andrew Somerville, Johnny Corneil and Drew Hunter were out of the IceDogs line-up.... Ondrej Machala opened the scoring for Niagara Friday night with a penalty shot goal.... The Dogs’ Ryan Smith and the Rangers’ Dylan Seitz dropped the gloves in the second period.... Thursday night in Barrie the Dogs dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colts as Bruder and Drew Hunter found the back of the net for Niagara. Incze made 21 stops in the loss.
Rangers 7 IceDogs 5
Standard Star of the Game: Kitchener forward Joseph Garreffa with one goal and four assists.
For Niagara: Ondrej Machala 2, Ian Martin, Danial Singer and Elijah Roberts.
For Kitchener: Garreffa, Kyle Gentles, Riley Damiani, Cole Carter, Dylan Seitz, Greg Meireles and Eric Guest.
Game stats: Shots on goal by the IceDogs on Luke Richardson (27); by the Rangers on Stephen Dhillon (31)
Penalty Minutes: Niagara (29); Kitchener (25).
Powerplays: IceDogs 2-for-6; Rangers 3-for-9.
Up Next: The IceDogs visit Kitchener Saturday to conclude their exhibition schedule. Niagara visits Hamilton next Saturday night to open their regular season, before hosting Erie on Friday September 29th in its 2017-18 home opener. Puck drop at Meridian Centre is set for 7 p.m.