The Odense Bulldogs could be the team to watch this season in Denmark’s Metal Ligaen. The team placed sixth of nine in 2013-14 but have brought in a trio of Ontario Hockey League grads, plus a head coach that also played in the OHL, to strengthen the squad. Dale Mitchell and Ryan McDonough join Anthony Aquino on the roster. Aquino finished up his 2013-14 season with Odense, appearing in seven regular season and four playoff games. Head Coach Brad Gratton moves over Rodovre where he has coached the past three seasons.
Mitchell played five years in the OHL from 2005-06 to 2009-10 with the Oshawa Generals and Windsor Spitfires. Dale was a third round pick by the Generals at the 2005 OHL Priority Selection, 41st overall. Over his career, he played 293 regular season games, scoring 136 and assisting on 158 for 294 points. Mitchell was an integral part of the consecutive Robertson Cup and Memorial Cup wins by the Spitfires in 2008-09 and 2009-10. In the playoffs, Dale added 67 points over 63 games.
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Mitchell in the third round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, 74th overall. His first pro action came in the form of two Calder Cup playoff games in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies in 2007-08. Dale has played full-time pro hockey since 2010-11 in the AHL, ECHL and Austria’s EBEL. In 2013-14, he started out with the ill-fated San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL, appearing in 25 games before the team closed up shop. Mitchell ended the season with 25 more games in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays.
McDonough played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2004-05 to 2007-08 with the Sudbury Wolves and Saginaw Spirit. Ryan was the fifth overall pick at the 2004 OHL Priority Selection, going to the Wolves. After playing his first season in the league with Sudbury, he played his final three with Saginaw. Over his OHL career, McDonough scored 133 goals and assisted on 151 for 284 points over 258 regular season games. In the playoffs, Ryan added 11 points over 26 games.
Undrafted to the National Hockey League, McDonough has played pro hockey since 2008-09 in Austria’s EBEL, Germany’s DEL2, Italy’s LIHG and the ECHL. Like Dale Mitchell, Ryan’s 2013-14 season also started in the ECHL with the San Francisco Bulls. His time in California lasted eight games before heading to Italy to play for Valpellice. with Valpellice, McDonough appeared in eleven regular season and seven playoff games.
Aquino played just 14 games in the OHL after his NCAA career came to an end. He appeared with the Oshawa Generals in 2002-03, scoring ten and assisting on nine for 19 points over his 14 games. Originally, Anthony was a tenth round pick by the Owen Sound Platers at the 1999 OHL Priority Selection, 208th overall.
While still in the NCAA, Aquino was taken in the third round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars, 92nd overall. His first pro hockey also came in 2002-03, playing five games for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. Aquino has been a full-time pro since 2003-04, appearing in a wide selection of leagues, including the ECHL, AHL, Italy’s LIHG, Germany’s DEL, Norway’s Get Ligaen, Sweden’s Allsvenskan, France’s Ligue Magnus, Poland’s elite league and the Metal Ligaen.
In 2013-14, Aquino started the year in Poland, appearing in 18 games with KH Sanok. Anthony finished the year with Odense, playing seven games in the regular season and four games in the playoffs.
Brad Gratton – Head Coach
Gratton played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 1986-87 to 1989-90. Brad wore seven different jerseys but some were the same franchise, just with a name change or relocation. His collection of OHL teams includes the Hamilton Steelhawks, Kingston Canadians, Belleville Bulls, Kingston Raiders, Windsor Spitfires, London Knights and Dukes of Hamilton.
Brad played pro hockey from 1991-92 to 2000-01 on teams in Canada, U.S.A., U.K., Austria, Germany, Finland and Switzerland. For the past three years, Gratton has coached rival Rodovre in the Metal Ligaen.
Odense has never won the playoff championship in Denmark but reached the finals in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2011-12. The team plays home games out of Bryggeriet Vestfyen Arena in Odense, a 3,280 seat venue that opened in 1999. In 2013-14, the team placed sixth in the nine team league over the 40 game regular season schedule and were a quick quarter-final loss.
Odense is the third largest city in Denmark and is located on the island of Funen. The city has a metro population of around 200,000 residents.