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IceCaps game report

Bournival, Pateryn Lead Bulldogs Past Admirals [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO:  Michael BournivalSylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – It seems the margin between the Hamilton Bulldogs being a competitive team this season and being one that struggles to stay out of last place in the Western Conference was a slim 18. That 18 is the number sophomore forward Michael Bournival wears in the AHL, as Friday night his pair of goals helped the team to a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals, improving to 2-0-0 during the winger’s three-game conditioning stint. His return, coupled with solid goaltending from Dustin Tokarski has people in Hamilton believing that a late-season surge to at least make the playoff race interesting is indeed still possible despite the precarious situation in which the club finds itself.

The Bulldogs are no strangers to strong opening periods, but their efforts wouldn’t go unrewarded Friday night. After an 0-for-2 cold streak, Hamilton’s powerplay came to life with Patrick Cehlin in the box just past the five minute mark. Marek Mazanek was scrambling in the crease as a puck came back to Nathan Beaulieu at the point. His heavy slapper went well wide, but ricocheted off the end boards and right back out to Michael Bournival, who quickly batted it into the deserted cage for a 1-0 advantage.

Greg Pateryn's goal and assist helped the 'Dogs win their second straight. (PHOTO: Brandon Taylor, Hamilton Bulldogs)
Greg Pateryn’s goal and assist helped the ‘Dogs win their second straight. (PHOTO: Brandon Taylor, Hamilton Bulldogs)

Another powerplay – the third of four Hamilton would be gifted in the opening stanza – allowed the home team to extend their lead. Greg Pateryn accepted a Martin St. Pierre feed along the blueline, and the d-man took two steps in before firing a wrist shot top shelf past Mazanek, earning his 11th marker on the season. The goal tied Pateryn for fourth in the AHL in that category among all d-men.

Just as common as strong openings has been second period collapses in Hamilton this season, but the Bulldogs were determined not to let up this time around. It was again Bournival in the centre of the action, taking a pass as he charged to the net, and being awarded a penalty shot on a slash despite still managing to get a shot off. With a second opportunity, the former Shawinigan Cataractes captain made no mistake, letting go a quick wrister that deflected off the far post and in.

Milwaukee would try to make a game of it, catching the pair of Morgan Ellis and Drew Schiestel flat-footed in their own end as Mathieu Tousignant found Michael Liambas uncovered on in the slot for a one-timer that beat Tokarski, reducing the lead to two.

Whereas on many nights the first goal against results in a dip in the intensity and level of play of the Bulldogs, Friday they stormed right back to the attack. With Nick Tarnasky creating havoc in front of the goal, a Greg Pateryn point shot deflected off the pugilist’s active stick just as an Admiral defender collided with Mazanek, resulting in the puck trickling through the helpless netminder. A four-goal outburst is a rare occurrence for the team’s anemic offense, evident in the 12-1-0 record they’ve posted when accomplishing such a feat.

After a couple of ineffective third period powerplays for Hamilton, the Admirals found one final breath of life. An odd scrum after an uncalled Mike Blunden board resulted in Hamilton being called for not one but two minor infractions. With both Nathan Beaulieu and Maxime Macenauer in the box, Milwaukee quickly capitalized on the 5-on-3 opportunity as Taylor Beck‘s big point shot beat Tokarski bar-down.

Despite sustained pressure from Milwaukee for the remainder of the powerplay, the ‘Dogs defense – backed by a solid performance from Tokarski – was up to the task, shutting things down the rest of the way in preserving the 4-2 victory.

Coach Sylvain Lefebvre was understandably in a cheerful mood following the win, praising the night’s first star. “I just talked to Montreal, and we’re gonna keep [Bournival],” he joked, before quickly confirming that it was in fact just a three-game conditioning stint. “He never stops working, and he’s a good guy to have around. Everybody loves him. He’s a quiet guy, and just goes about his business.”

While not entirely happy with Sven Andrighetto‘s performance, coach Lefebvre also confirmed he will continue the experiment of skating the Swiss forward at centre. “Wednesday’s game was a better game for him. Tonight he didn’t have the same spark, but he made some good plays with Bournival and Thomas. I’m gonna keep him at centre for now. I think he enjoys playing there and he gets chances.”

Bournival himself was fairly critical of his own play despite his two goals. “I think I need to improve some things in my game, especially defensively. There are some things in my game I need to work on, and I’m gonna try to do that tomorrow. I need to be a little sharper.”

The final game of Bournival’s return to the ‘Dogs will be Saturday night at home against the Abbotsford Heat. It’s the last contest in Hamilton prior to a nine-game road trip that will ultimately decide the team’s end-of-season fate.

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IceCaps game report

‘Dogs Spoil Early Lead, Drop Shootout to Heat [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO:   Sylvain Lefebvre | Justin Courtnall |

HAMILTON, ON – Slow starts have been a recurring theme for this year’s Hamilton Bulldogs, but they shirked the trend Saturday night, pouncing on a tired-looking Abbotsford Heat squad right from opening puck drop to take an early 2-0 lead. However, in a reverse of the usual Bulldog set-up, the team suffered a second period collapse, with the Heat drawing even and ultimately prevailing in a shootout, 3-2.

1450090_10151936344620589_458323810_nDespite not appearing on the scoresheet, coach Sylvain Lefebvre had been quick to call out strong play from the line of Justin Courtnall, Joonas Nattinen, and Steve Quailer just a day earlier, and it was that line that would open the scoring against the Heat. A strong forecheck from the energy trio generated a defensive turnover that popped on to Courtnall’s blade, and a quick spin-o-rama rifle beat starting netminder Joni Ortio. Ortio got the call due to Reto Berra‘s call-up to Calgary earlier in the day, leaving the Heat to call upon 40-year old personal trainer David Harris as an emergency back-up goalie.

After scoring two powerplay goals for the comeback win against the Toronto Marlies a night earlier, the powerplay would click again to extend the home team’s lead. In similar fashion to the day before, the play was started by strong work by the point pair of Magnus Nygren and Nathan Beaulieu. While Nygren was the shooter against Toronto, this time it was a Beaulieu shot which would see a rebound land on the stick of Martin St. Pierre – he who scored both powerplay goals Friday – for an easy tap-in and 2-0 lead. The second goal came at just the 5:39 mark of the first, and with changing netminders not an option, the Heat was forced to call a timeout to try to get back into the game, but the period would end with a 14-7 Hamilton shot advantage.

Playing with the lead is a relatively new concept for this year’s Bulldog team, and it unfortunately showed in the second. Just a minute in, a defensive end turnover landed on the stick of former Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flame forward Blair Jones and he was quick to fire one past a falling Robert Mayer to cut the lead in half. The situation worsened when already down a man, Gabriel Dumont collided with Ortio during a shorthanded rush and got called for goaltender interference. It must have been a terrifying minute for Harris on the Abbotsford bench, as Ortio lay on the ice, slow to get up, but was fine in the end and stayed in the game.

The Bulldog penalty kill – led by a great period for an under-siege Mayer – managed to kill off the lengthy 5-on-3, but the Heat kept coming and eventually found a way to get a second puck behind the Hamilton goalie. At the tail end of a late-period Bulldog penalty, a Jarred Tinordi clearing attempt was knocked out of the air by Drew MacKenzie, who would eventually find Jones to rocket his second of the night to the back of the cage. The game remained tied through 40 minutes, and the evening out of the shot clock properly reflected what had turned from a one-sided romp into an entertaining and wide-open contest.

If the second period was full of scoring chances at both ends, things tightened up in the third, as neither team could capitalize on opportunities with the man advantage. The biggest notable was that despite sitting on the bench, Nathan Beaulieu didn’t take a shift, wearing a full face shield and visibly reaching up to feel his face numerous times.  However after the game, Coach Lefebvre confirmed that Beaulieu was benched for the final frame and was not suffering from an injury.

After no scoring in the third, overtime also solved nothing, with few chances at either end, sending the Bulldogs to their third shootout of the year. The team’s lack of success there continued, as none of Sven AndrighettoMartin St. Pierre, or Erik Nystrom could beat Ortio, while all of Markus GranlundCorban Knight, and Blair Jones put pucks past Mayer to complete the comeback.

The Bulldogs still add another point to their strong start to the season, now sitting at 5-2-3. They are next in action Wednesday night in Rochester, before a game at home against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday.

 

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IceCaps game report

Heat Powerplay Sizzles in Revenge Win Over Bulldogs

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Jarred Tinordi | Gabriel Dumont | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – If the key to Hamilton’s victory over the Abbotsford Heat on Wednesday night was getting out to a quick start, someone must have changed the locks Friday.

Starting from goaltender Robert Mayer right on out, the Bulldogs – despite gaining reinforcements in the form of Gabriel Dumont and Jarred Tinordi – were sloppy, and the Heat capitalized to avenge their prior 5-3 loss with a 4-2 victory.

tinordihires
Tinordi’s return to Hamilton didn’t go according to plan, as three powerplay goals went off or through him. (PHOTO: Jason Kurylo)

Michael Bournival had the game’s first scoring chance right off the opening face-off, but was turned aside by netminder Danny Taylor. Heat forward Ben Walter was more opportunistic, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead at just the 1:04 mark.

Abbotsford would then extend their lead on the powerplay, when Jarred Tinordi got his stick on a Max Reinhart point shot – a mistake coach Sylvain Lefebvre most certainly would have let him know about – and it got through Mayer. It was a whirlwind day for Tinordi, being sent down from Montreal in the morning, but unfortunately the deflection would be only the start of his troubles on the night.

Hamilton clawed back to within one on a powerplay marker of their own, with Morgan Ellis ending a 34-game pointless streak, slapping a pass from Frederic St. Denis past Taylor. Ellis earned time on the second powerplay unit with Nathan Beaulieu in Montreal on a call-up.

The goal seemed to wake the ‘Dogs up, but back-to-back penalties taken by St. Denis gave the momentum right back to the Heat. After a first call, it wouldn’t take long for the second call to prove costly, with Sven Baertschi‘s tough angle shot bouncing off Tinordi’s skate at the side of the net and beating Mayer up high, restoring a two-goal advantage.

The second period would see the Bulldogs get back within one again, this time on a solo effort by Gabriel Dumont – also sent down from the Canadiens that very morning. Dumont’s first shot was blocked in front, but the grinder went hard to the net, collected his own rebound, and snapped it to the back of the goal.

That Dumont’s goal came from going hard to the net was no coincidence, as the hardnosed forward benefited from some strong role models during his time in Montreal. “I learned a lot of things. You watch guys play. Guys like Brandon Prust. Guys like Colby Armstrong. They’ve been around for a while. Kind of the same player as me too. Travis MoenRyan White you know. Look at these guys, see what they’re doing everyday. They have great work ethic. Learn from these guys and try to do the same thing here,” he summed up after the game.

Unfortunately for the home side, history would repeat itself. Any gains in momentum from Dumont’s marker were quickly erased when Mayer – who seemed to have a lack of focus throughout the game despite also making numerous highlight reel stops – mishandled a puck behind the net, forcing Greg Pateryn into a penalty call. And again the Abbotsford powerplay would make Hamilton pay, as Ben Street caught Mayer cheating sliding across the goal, slipping a shot along the ice through Tinordi’s legs – yes him again – and in shortside.

“It’s frustrating,” said Tinordi. “It happens. I didn’t see a shot coming, it went off my stick and in. One went off my skate. Obviously those goals were my fault, so I just try to tell Mayer we’ll get it back for him.”

Danny Taylor stood tall in the third stanza as Hamilton had its chances to reduce the Heat lead, notably an opportunity for Dumont that greatly resembled his earlier goal. A save on his first shot popped the puck up, and Dumont would show hunger for the puck, skating through the defensemen to bat it out of midair, but Taylor was ready with a second stop.

It would take a weird bounce to provide an exciting finish, as Alex Belzile couldn’t control a pass, but it would be accidentally put on net by Zach McKelvie and squeak through Taylor, some puck luck going the right away after Tinordi’s series of unfortunate events through the first two periods.

That was as close as the ‘Dogs would get, as despite buzzing in the offensive zone for the final minute with Mayer on the bench, the team couldn’t get much on goal in their attempt to force overtime. The playoffs seem like an unreachable target tonight, but a roster full of tryouts looking for job security for next season is back in action Saturday night hosting the Rochester Americans.

 

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IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Breeze by Heat with 5-3 Win [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Brady Vail | Alex Belzile | Joey Tenute

HAMILTON, ON – They say the first game home after a lengthy road trip is one of the toughest to win. But if Wednesday night was an indication, the Hamilton Bulldogs aren’t familiar with that expression.

After posting a 1-3-0 record on the road over the last two and a half weeks, the ‘Dogs returned to Copps Coliseum with a decisive victory, chilling the Abbotsford Heat by a 5-3 final score in a game they controlled for two periods but would ultimately have to survive a third period collapse. 

Bournival's 8th tied Patrick Holland for 2nd in goals among active 'Dogs this season (PHOTO: GETTY / RDS.CA)
Bournival’s 8th tied Patrick Holland for 2nd in goals among active ‘Dogs this season (PHOTO: GETTY / RDS.CA)

Hamilton got off to a good start with the game’s first quality scoring chance as Alex Belzile narrowly missed getting to the rebound of a Joey Tenute shot. Belzile was promoted to the Bulldogs’ top line with Tenute and Patrick Holland for the night – despite it being only the third AHL game of the tryout’s career – based on his production (a goal and two assists) in his two prior outings.

The Bulldogs would make good of their second opportunity however. Michael Bournival took a couple of strides off a Nathan Beaulieu pass and fired a hard wrister off the post and in on netminder Danny Taylor. With Gabriel Dumont in Montreal Bournival led the ‘Dogs in scoring coming into the game with 24 points in 56 contests, and the marker tied him with Patrick Holland for second on the team in goals with 8.

As rare as it has been for Hamilton to score first this season, on this night, they wouldn’t stop there. First Frederic St. Denis would one-time the rebound of a Philippe Lefebvre shot past a helpless Taylor. Brady Vail picked up his first professional point (in his third game) with an assist on the tally. Then just five minutes later, feel-good story Hamilton local Joey Tenute would collect a Belzile pass and fire a rifle top shelf.

The second period saw the Bulldogs add to their lead with a powerplay marker to make it 4-0. Nathan Beaulieu showed great agility in executing a quick spinorama at the point before feeding back to Patrick Holland. Holland would in turn send the puck cross-ice to Greg Pateryn whose slapshot found the back of the net for his 6th in just 27 games. Robert Mayer would close out the period with a number of quality stops as Abbotsford held a 27-16 shot advantage through 40 minutes, though those totals hardly reflected the balance of play.

Nothing has come easy for the boys from Steeltown North this season and this game would not be an exception. The Heat came out buzzing to start the final stanza and markers from Max Reinhart and Roman Horak quickly made it a two-goal affair. Hoping to settle his troops down, coach Sylvain Lefebvre wisely called a timeout.

And it seemed to work. Again the new top line went to work with Holland flashing skill to break in alone on goal, and while he was stepped, Tenute was Johnny on the spot for his second of the night, restoring a three-goal lead. Belzile registered his second helper of the game on the goal – his fifth point in just his third game – and was impressive throughout the night, regularly going hard to the Heat net.

Ben Street would reduce the Heat deficit to two, but that was as close as this one would come, as the Bulldogs pick up a hard-fought and well-deserved win despite what the shot clock might have one think. The win was made all the more impressive by the fact that no fewer than six players were making their Copps Coliseum debuts in the game.

“It’s a little weird for me, just cause I’ve never experienced anything like this,” explained Vail who – given his young age – will return to the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires in the Fall. “I’m here to experience what it’s like at the next level and learn from the pro guys; what it takes, the work ethic, off-ice stuff. All the little things really. Good to get [the first point] out of the way, and hope I get a few more.”

Belzile, playing his first year outside of Quebec and a little self-conscious about his English, is also looking at this as a learning opportunity. “[The AHL] is way faster [than the ECHL]. Just the intensity – you can’t compare them. You have to be smarter – know what you’re going to do with the puck before it comes. Those little details, and I hope [my adjustment] is going to continue the same way.”

 

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IceCaps game report

Tokarski, Tenute Lead Bulldogs Over Heat [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Joey Tenute | Dustin Tokarski | Coach Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – On a day where former Hamilton Bulldog Cedric Desjardins was called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the man he was traded for, Dustin Tokarski, didn’t want to be shown up.

The ‘Dogs netminder has been nothing but stellar since being acquired by the Canadiens, and on Tuesday he recorded his second straight shutout, making 27 saves to earn a 2-0 decision over the Abbotsford Heat.

Tenute's fourth of the season stood up as the game winner. (PHOTO: John Rennison/The Hamilton Spectator)
Tenute’s fourth of the season stood up as the game winner. (PHOTO: John Rennison/The Hamilton Spectator)

Hamilton played a strong first period – a period that has been a weakness for them much of the season – but came away with nothing to show for it, as goaltender Leland Irving had the last word.

The second period was a relatively even one, as the sparse mid-week crowd had little to get excited about. One could say it was a tight defensive affair with both teams putting up barriers in their own end, but that would be a polite way of describing the unmotivated sloppy “action” (or lack thereof) taking place between the two bluelines.

There were few scoring chances either way, until a solo rush by Hamilton native Joey Tenute produced a highlight-reel goal with just over a minute to go in the period.

“I saw that I had a couple of guys with me, but I know on a play like that, the goalie is going to be thinking I’m going to make the pass and be cheating a little, and I just kinda went to my backhand and put it upstairs,” described Tenute. But the goal was initially waved off, and the referees had to go upstairs to confirm it hadn’t simply bounced off the crossbar. “I saw it go in, but I don’t think the ref did. No doubt in my mind. I saw it, the whole bench saw it. I think maybe the ref was the only one that didn’t.”

The Bulldog penalty kill was proficient throughout the night, limiting the scoring chances on Tokarski, but he came up big in the third period as Abbotsford pressed for an equalizer with Tenute in the box.

“Sometimes in the game you get momentum, sometimes with the powerplay even if you don’t score, and sometimes with the penalty kill. Guys feel very confident right now in their play and that they can keep the lead if they get it,” summed up coach Sylvain Lefebvre.

Tokarski wouldn’t take all the credit for the win, rightfully pointing to his teammates who – while they conceded 27 shots – kept most chances to the outside and allowed few true scoring opportunities.

“We’ve been playing solid 60 minutes of north-south hockey. Playing some good D and capitalizing on chances,” said the always modest netminder nicknamed ‘Ticker’ of a true team effort. “Guys are staying tight, keeping guys to the outside. Giving me the first shot and then clearing the rebound or I’m controlling it. I thought the D core’s been outstanding the last couple of games.”

In addition to usual stand-up efforts from Greg Pateryn and Frederic St. DenisJoe Stejskal had a particularly good game on the back-end, delivering several crunching hits.

The third period saves were all the team would require, as Louis Leblanc sealed the deal into an empty net after starting a rush that drew a late Heat penalty.

The win is Hamilton’s 9th in the last 13 games, but the team has to continue to take things one game at a time, as they remain far out of a playoff spot. “We’ve been in playoffs in our mind for a little while here,” said Lefebvre, concluding by anointing Tokarski the starter for the team’s next game Friday night.