They knew it was going to be a rebuilding season, but the Niagara IceDogs had some solid veterans to get them through an important year of development.
The IceDogs say goodbye to four-year veteran Oliver Castleman, overage captain Ivan Lodnia and fifth-year OHL defender Elijah Roberts as the trio helped set Niagara up for success in the years to come.
Oliver Castleman (Niagara – 2016-20)
He bloomed a little later than others in his age group, but Oliver Castleman made the jump to the OHL as a 17-year-old and was consistently productive over four seasons in the Niagara IceDogs uniform. The Gloucester, Ont. was passed over in his OHL Draft year only to be selected by the IceDogs a year later in the fourth round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection. He posted 40 points (18-22–40) as a rookie in 2016-17 and this set career highs with 22 goals, 36 assists and 58 points as an overager in 2019-20. Castleman rounded out his OHL career with 165 points (73-92–165) over 254 regular season outings.
Ivan Lodnia (Erie, Niagara – 2015-20)
Minnesota Wild prospect Ivan Lodnia made a late return for his overage season, joining the IceDogs in October as he’d eventually don the ‘C’ as captain while putting up 62 points (27-35–62) over 41 games. He enjoyed a career night on Jan. 2nd in North Bay, posting six points (2-4–6) including an assist on the overtime winner as the Dogs beat the Troops 9-8. The 20-year-old from Novi, Mich. scored over 100 goals in his OHL career, finishing with 262 points (106-156–262) over 272 regular season games. Lodnia hoisted the Robertson Cup as an OHL champion with the 2016-17 Erie Otters, skating alongside such names as Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. He recorded 20 points (6-14–20) over 46 OHL playoff contests. Originally the 20th overall pick of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, Lodnia went on to be selected by the Minnesota Wild in the third round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
Elijah Roberts (Kitchener, Niagara – 2015-20)
Known for his unique #98 on the back end, Elijah Roberts wraps up a five-year OHL career that spanned 294 regular season games. The 21-year-old from Brampton, Ont. missed some time to injury this season, recording 16 points (2-14–16) over 45 games. Roberts split his OHL tenure between Kitchener and Niagara, posting 108 career points (23-85–108) along the way while also suiting up in 31 career playoff contests. His biggest career output came back on Jan. 12, 2018 against the Barrie Colts when he scored a hat-trick and added an assist. Roberts was originally a second round pick of Kitchener in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection out of the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget program.
The IceDogs feature four 2000-born players, none of whom are selected by NHL clubs. They include defenceman Adrien Beraldo and forwards Andrew Bruder, Jackson Doherty and Lucas Theriault.
The 2019-20 OHL season came to a sudden end on Thursday, March 12th, with play suspended and the remainder of the playing season cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, many of the League’s overage and graduating players never had the chance to enjoy a proper send-off from their home fans. The 2020 Graduating Class series takes a look at the OHL tenure of each team’s overage players while also recognizing other potential graduates.