The Niagara Icedogs begin their 2019-20 campaign at home just one week from today and the already young Icedogs team will be very thin down the middle to kick off the year. That, of course, is due to forwards Akil Thomas (LA Kings) and Phillip Tomasino (Nashville Predators) heading to their respective NHL camps with both primed to make a big impression.

Newly named Icedogs captain Thomas is looking to ride the wave of good play like a California surfer right into Los Angeles Kings’ training camp. Thomas is looking to build off of his impressive rookie camp where the 2018 second-round pick tallied a goal against the San Jose Sharks in addition to having several more chances in that game. The Icedogs captain is looking to continue his rapid development and use his speed and body to build on last seasons impressive 38-goal and 64-assist campaign that saw him finish fifth in OHL scoring last season.

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When you look at the players on the Kings’ training camp roster it is hard to envision Akil playing anywhere but back in the OHL this year. With that said, his work ethic, skill set, and attitude make him a player you simply can’t just write off.

Keeping down the middle of the ice on his way to the “Music City” is Predators’ 2019 first-round pick (24th overall) Philip Tomasino. The skilled centre looks poised to bump up his totals from last year with Niagara where he put up a well balanced 34 goals and 38 assists.

The Icedogs centres will be leaned on a ton this season to cope with the loss of guys like Tomasino who have the potential to crack Nashville’s deep roster. Up the middle, the Predators features Ryan Johansson, Matt Duchene, and Kyle Turris. With those guys around him, Tomasino finds himself in a great position to learn from three top-level NHL centres. He should bring some very valuable lessons back to Niagara this season

No matter what happens with Thomas or Tomasino in the coming weeks at NHL training camp, one thing is for certain, the entire Niagara region is rooting for both to have strong training camps and return to the young team with invaluable NHL lessons and knowledge they can pass on to the next wave of Icedogs talent.

The playoff streak may be in jeopardy (they have made it every year since they arrived in Niagara in 2007) with their top two players off to learn from the best hockey players in the world. With that said, I wouldn’t write the pesky dogs off just yet.

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