IceDogs head coach and GM Marty Williamson
In the wake of forward Connor Crisp's now legendary turn in net for the shorthanded Erie Otters last weekend, Niagara IceDogs head coach and GM Marty Williamson has come under some scrutiny. It was, after all, the IceDogs who scored 13 goals and sent top-scoring forwards and Team Canada members Ryan Strome and Freddie Hamilton out on the ice with less than five minutes left in the game while holding an eight-goal lead.
Trying to run up the score? Nothing could be farther from the truth as far as Williamson is concerned.
"I didn't want to do anything that either embarrassed their team or their organization," said the coach on Wednesday. "Sometimes it's more embarrassing to joke around in the game than just play the game. I mean not shoot on net and do silly things, like not even play the game properly. I would want teams to play against me, not just stop playing and make us look bad. It was a tough point, but to their credit, their players played very hard in front of (Crisp) and they didn't back down. It was a nice little team effort."
He said an injury during the game to forward Tom Kuhnhackl and the ejection of forward Alex Friesen were the reasons his top players were still getting ice time late in the game.
"We were down on players," said Williamson. "I don't know what people expect, we're not going to overplay some guys and get them exhausted out there."
Either way, Williamson said, his team was in a no-win situation with Crisp in net.
"Bottom line is we wanted to win the game and get it over with," said the IceDogs coach. "If we had scored 20 goals everybody would have lambasted us for running the score up. If we lose the game (it) would have been a joke and I really think the score kind of suited the game. I don't think our guys went out of their way to score — we've won other games where we've scored 10 goals so I didn't think it was outlandish.
"It was a feel-good story for Connor. I thought his personality was outstanding the way he waved to the crowd coming in and I think that took a lot of pressure off him."
Williamson, as it turns out, knows first-hand what it's like to be left in the lurch when it comes to goaltending.
Back in the 2002-03 season, as the head coach and GM of the Aurora Tigers (Ontario Jr. A), Williamson lost the services of both his goaltenders during their showdown with the Wellington Dukes in the OPJHL league final. Tigers starter Chris Whitley ended up getting a five-game suspension for shooting the puck over the glass in Game 3 of the series and backup Lance King suffered a groin injury in the next game, leaving Williamson little time to find replacements for Game 5, with the best-of-seven final tied 2-2.
"It turned into a nightmare for us," said Williamson. "I tried to forget it, but it was something similar to what Erie is going through."
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