COBOURG, ON – For the second night in a row, the Hamilton Bulldogs got off to a slow start against the Toronto Marlies, but this time they would show considerably less bite the rest of the way, unable to muster anything offensively until the game’s final minutes in ultimately dropping a 2-1 decision.
A Bulldogs roster still lacking many of its more valuable contributors (see the game’s line-up below) was outplayed by the Marlies in the first, and relied on Dustin Tokarski to keep it scoreless early. Tokarski looked increasingly human as the period wore on, however, appearing weak on a bouncing Sam Carrick shot, and then getting only a small piece of a Wade MacLeod wrister from along the boards before it deflected behind him, spotting Toronto a 2-0 lead.
The ‘Dogs had a rare opportunity to cut into the deficit in the period’s dying seconds when Sven Andrighetto – playing his first game with the team – fed Akim Aliu – the standout of training camp – on the doorstep, but Aliu’s deflection was turned aside by Garrett Sparks. Andrighetto had a tough night defensively, but was one of the more creative Bulldogs in the offensive zone, while Aliu continued to bring his physical brand of hockey mixed with flashes of his top end puck skills.
The game got choppy from there on, with three separate fights and scrums after most whistles, which led to a second period lacking any real flow. The goaltenders switched halfway through the game, with Robert Mayer making his preseason debut for Hamilton, but scoring chances were limited for either side.
Toronto looked poised to skate to an easy win in the third period’s early-goings, but the ‘Dogs ensured the fans in Cobourg, Ontario – host city for the night’s preseason action – would see an exciting finish. Just before the midway mark, with Hamilton on the powerplay, a Patrick Holland blast from the point squeaked through traffic in front and past Christopher Gibson to pull his side within one. Holland regularly played the point on the powerplay last season, and was back in that role in his first warm-up contest, while lining up at centre five-on-five.
For the final ten minutes, the Bulldogs controlled much of the play, but their momentum was thwarted by an unfortunate penalty call, where Akim Aliu was the only man sent to the box out of a large scrum. Marlies’ skaters regularly targeted Aliu after whistles, and so if there were any discipline or character issues there – the primary knock against him – he was being put to the test and handled himself rather well.
After killing the penalty, the ‘Dogs’ pressure resumed, and Ben Duffy nearly tipped in a Jordan Owens centering feed. The offensive zone shift would draw a powerplay as Aliu – in the middle of the action again – would be taken out hard into the boards by Jason Beattie. Unfortunately, despite the late flurry evening what had once been a lopsided shot disadvantage, the powerplay proved fruitless, and the Marlies would hold on for their second win in as many days.
Prior to the game, the Bulldogs had announced the first seven cuts of training camp. Peter Delmas was assigned to Orlando of the ECHL, while Chad Wiseman, Andre Morrissette, David Laliberta, Trevor Bruess, Pierre Durepos, and Matt Lashoff were released from their free agent tryout agreements. Many more cuts are to come this week, as there remain twenty forwards, thirteen defensemen, and three goaltenders in camp.
The Bulldogs fall to 0-2-0 in the preseason, and wrap up their exhibition schedule with a game in Dundas, Ontario on Thursday night against the Utica Comets. They then open the regular season at Copps Coliseum on October 11th.
Ben Duffy – Akim Aliu – Sven Andrighetto
Erik Nystrom – Alex Belzile – Stephen MacAulay
Justin Courtnall – Patrick Holland – Jordan Owens
Stefan Fournier – Joonas Nattinen – Kelsey Wilson
Dalton Thrower – Drew Schiestel
Morgan Ellis – Jeremy Price
Nathan McIver – Jonathan Narbonne