'Dogs' Ouzas shines as Shantz watches

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Greg Gilbert says there is no goaltending controversy with the Mississauga IceDogs. But there's the little issue of the guy who has been doing much of his recent participating with the OHL club as a cheerleader from the end of the bench.

David Shantz watched again yesterday as Michael Ouzas posted his second consecutive shutout, making 23 saves in a 2-0 win versus the Erie Otters at the Hershey Centre. Ouzas blanked the St. Michael's Majors on Friday night and has started five of the past six IceDogs' games, yanking the starter's role from Shantz's grasp.

"My hockey decisions are based on performance," Gilbert, the 'Dogs coach, said. "Michael is playing well and David will have to earn his spot back. (Shantz's play) has been inconsistent since Day 1 this season."

Many figured Shantz would have been vying for the No. 1 role in Canada's net for the world junior championship in mid-December, never mind trying to get back into the IceDogs picture. A second-round pick by the Florida Panthers last June, Shantz performed well at Canada's development camp in the summer but fell off the junior nats' radar with a record of 6-7-2 and didn't get invited to the selection camp that began yesterday.

Ouzas has sparkled since being picked up from St. Mike's early in October. He's second in the Ontario Hockey League in save percentage (.933) and goals-against average (1.92), and in 15 games with Mississauga, is 8-3-4.

"This has been a good opportunity for me," Ouzas said. "Whatever I can to do contribute to win is great."

Shantz said he hasn't asked for a trade but you have to wonder if a change of scenery wouldn't be a bad idea as his slump nears the midway point of the season. Shantz had dinner with Panthers director of player development Duane Sutter on Saturday night and vowed to keep his chin up.

"(Sitting) can be frustrating," Shantz said. "I want to play here and win here. When I get in the net I know what I can do. This is one of those things I just have to work through."

Tom Zanoski and Dustin Jeffrey scored for the IceDogs (14-9-6-1). Erie dropped to 14-11-3-3.


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