After missing the entire 2016-17 hockey season due to injury, Ontario Hockey League grad Stephen Johnston is off to Australia to play for the Sydney Ice Dogs in the AIHL. Johnston played in the OHL for the Belleville Bulls and Windsor Spitfires before spending five years with the St. Mary’s University Huskies.
Stephen Johnston played four years in the OHL from 2007-08 to 2010-11 with the Belleville Bulls and Windsor Spitfires. He was a sixth round pick by the Bulls at the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, 112th overall. Over his career, he scored 47 and assisted on 67 for 114 points in 213 regular season games. In a lofty 61 playoff games, Johnston added 27 points.
With Belleville in his rookie season, Stephen and the Bulls reached the finals before losing in seven to the Kitchener Rangers. The team competed in the Memorial Cup tournament with Kitchener hosting. The Bulls fell to the Rangers 9-0 in the semi-final game. As a rookie, Johnston played in 21 playoff games and all of Belleville’s four games at the Memorial Cup.
A deadline blockbuster trade in 2009-10 sent Johnston to the Spitfires with Marc Cantin and Philipp Grubauer. Going to Belleville were Richard Panik, Austen Brassard, Paul Bezzo, Steve Gleeson and three draft picks.
With Windsor in 2009-10, Johnston played in 14 of the team’s 19 playoff games as the Spits won the Robertson Cup championship but sweeping the Barrie Colts in the finals. He then played in all four Memorial Cup games as Windsor took out the host Brandon Wheat Kings in the final game, 9-1, for their second consecutive title.
The Detroit Red Wings selected Johnston in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, 181st overall. However, he didn’t sign with the Red Wings organization and was eligible for the 2010 draft but was not picked again.
After his Ontario Hockey League career, Stephen spent five years in the AUS with the Saint Mary’s University Huskies from 2011-12 to 2015-16. In 2012-13, the Huskies lost in the University Cup final to the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. In 2014-15, Johnston was named an AUS Second Team All-Star.
He has signed with the Sydney Ice Dogs of the Australian Ice Hockey League for the 2017 season. The campaign begins April 22 for the Ice Dogs and the schedule lasts 28 games.
Sydney Ice Dogs
This seems to be a team on the rebound. In 2015, the Ice Dogs went winless in regulation and forfeited three games because they couldn’t fill the roster enough to field a team. They have not appeared in the post season since 2014.
It wasn’t always bad, though. Sydney was AIHL Goodall Cup champions in 2004 and 2013. In 2016, the Ice Dogs improved with seven regulation wins, along with a win and a loss in overtime, finishing seventh in the eight team league.
The team plays home games at the LCC (Liverpool Catholic Club) Sports Complex in Liverpool, New South Wales. The venue seats 500 and was opened in 1979.
We recently featured Peter Di Salvo, goalie and OHL grad who will be also be playing in the AIHL. Di Salvo will be with the Perth Thunder on the far west coast of Australia.