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IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Lack Killer Instinct in Shutout Loss [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Morgan Ellis | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – After having a six-game win streak snapped two weeks ago, the Hamilton Bulldogs all spoke of how important it was to avoid the peril of their early season: following each step forward with an equivalent or worse step back. Despite a valiant effort to prevent a new skid, firing 32 shots on Toronto Marlies’ goaltender Drew MacIntyre, the boys from the Hammer were unable to find the back of the net Saturday night, dropping a 2-0 decision for their third loss in the past four outings.

ThomasHamilton
Christian Thomas had the best ‘Dogs chances on the night, but couldn’t beat Drew MacIntyre (PHOTO: BRANDON TAYLOR, via HAMILTON BULLDOGS)

The Bulldogs – looking to rebound from last week’s loss to the bottom feeding Utica Comets – started strong, as an early Christian Thomas scoring chance off a Sven Andrighetto set-up forced Drew MacIntyre into a tough save and Wade MacLeod into a hooking penalty. Thomas would also have the best chance with the man advantage on a Morgan Ellis rebound, but MacIntyre was sharp right from opening puck drop.

Frustrations began to mount as the ‘Dogs saw two powerplays and a Sven Andrighetto breakaway go unrewarded, prompting Jarred Tinordi to drop the gloves with tough guy David Broll in a clash of heavyweights. Lots of swinging, but few punches landed either way, so Sam Carrick and Gabriel Dumont decided to keep the intensity high later in on the period in a lightweight bout.

As often happens in hockey, when a team has the better scoring chances but fails to cash in, it only takes one opportunity for the other team to open a lead. Martin St. Pierre was called for a poor penalty late in the first, interfering with a forechecking Brad Staubitz, something the captain has been guilty of far too frequently this season. Greg Pateryn was caught hobbled in front of Dustin Tokarski after blocking a hard point shot, allowing Greg McKegg to beat him to a rebound and tuck the puck just inside the post on the Hamilton netminder, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The ‘Dogs were again the better team at five-on-five in the second period, but a continued failure to make anything of their rushes or powerplay opportunities bit them once again. After Joonas Nattinen deftly set up linemate Stefan Fournier with a quick drop pass, only to be turned aside by  MacIntyre, Hamilton was handed a powerplay opportunity when a scrum near the benches resulted in a too many men call against Toronto. Rather than seizing the opportunity, however, the home side allowed Jerry D’Amigo to break in alone. While being hooked to the ice, D’Amigo managed to direct the puck towards the net, fooling Tokarski who followed the sliding man rather than the abandoned disk, which trickled past him and into the cage.

Hamilton was given a great chance to get back into the game in the third period, as Brandon Kozun – making his debut for the Marlies after being acquired for Andrew Crescenzi a couple of days ago – took back-to-back penalties, giving the trailers four minutes of near uninterrupted powerplay time. The Bulldogs failed to generate much in the way of sustained possession or pressure, squandering their chances once again, and running into a wall of MacIntyre on the best opportunity as Gabriel Dumont and Mike Blunden batted away at a Greg Pateryn rebound.

Toronto was able to coast the rest of the way, preserving ex-Bulldog MacIntyre’s first shutout of the season. The struggling powerplay – 0 for 7 on the night – was an easy target on which to pinpoint the night’s defeat. “For me on the powerplay, I have to shoot pucks, get the pucks through,” suggested Morgan Ellis, whose team-high five shots came with a good dose of powerplay ice time thanks to Nathan Beaulieu‘s call-up to Montreal. “[Beaulieu] is a good puck-moving defenseman. He finds seams. For me, being out there, I just have to keep it simple and get pucks through, and hopefully one of them goes in.”

Coach Sylvain Lefebvre wasn’t as concerned about how Beaulieu’s loss impacted his man advantage, but reiterated the need fo it to be better. “Our powerplay was not good tonight. Our powerplay wasn’t doing very well even when Nathan was here. It’s been a current theme right now. Even when we were playing well and getting some wins, the powerplay wasn’t much of a factor. We have to find a way to grind it out. Maybe we’re doing too much. When we did well on the powerplay, it was getting shots from the point and traffic in front.”

The coach also scoffs at the notion of his team being streaky. “I’m tired of hearing that we’re streaky. We try to win every game. We try to put some wins together, and obviously we’re not trying to put some losses together. We want to get back on track. We think we’re a good team. We gotta get better and stronger mentally.”

Lefebvre’s troops will have a chance to prove they are strong mentally by getting right back on the ice Saturday night in Lake Erie to take on the Monsters. They’ll then return home to complete an always difficult three games in three nights stretch Sunday against Chicago.

 

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IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Turn in Lacklustre Effort, Drop Decision to Marlies [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Gabriel Dumont | Sylvain Lefebvre 

HAMILTON, ON – In what Habs fans need to hope wasn’t a preview of Saturday night’s Canadiens – Maple Leafs matchup in Montreal, the Bulldogs turned in a lackluster effort Friday night, dropping an important divisional contest 3-1 to the Toronto Marlies.

(Photo: HamiltonBulldogs.com)
(Photo: HamiltonBulldogs.com)

If you were to describe the 2013-14 Hamilton Bulldogs in one word, through the season’s first 21 games, it would be “streaky.” Through the year’s first ten games, the team had lost only twice in regulation, which they promptly followed up by losing five straight contests in 60-minutes. A four-game win streak then got fans optimistic that the dark days were over, particularly thanks to inspired play from Dustin Tokarski. But a mid-week blowout at the hand of the Rochester Americans set-up Friday night’s clash with the enemy Marlies at Copps Coliseum as a battle for first place in the division that would prove anticlimactic for the crowd of 6,159 in attendance.

The Bulldogs welcomed two relatively new faces to the line-up, compensating for the recent departures of Erik Nystrom and Magnus Nygren. First was rookie pro defenseman Darren Dietz, returning after missing 16 games with a wrist injury to play just his fifth contest for the squad. The next was Jordan Owens, a journeyman forward who attended Bulldogs’ training camp on a tryout, and was just signed to a professional tryout agreement earlier this week, making his AHL season debut.

The fresh blood helped buoy the team to a solid first period. Despite holding a 9-7 shot advantage, one defensive lapse left the ‘Dogs trailing their Ontario rivals. Morgan Ellis lost a battle in the corner, allowing Josh Leivo to skate out, and Darren Dietz was left in no man’s land, caught between covering the front of the net and moving towards Leivo, allowing the Marlies’ rookie to spot Jerry D’Amigo alone in front. The former U.S. National Under-18 program star was quick to one-time his fifth past Robert Mayer, making his first start in six games.

Hamilton would make matters difficult for themselves early in the second, as Jarred Tinordi was called for delay of game after flipping a puck over the glass. With the penalty about to expire, David Broll patiently waited before roofing a wrister top shelf on Mayer, a perfect shot that exposed the goaltender for a playing a little too deep in his net.

Moments later, Gabriel Dumont – one of the hotter hands in Hamilton of late – prevented the game from getting out of reach on a great solo rush. Weaving in and out of the Toronto defense, he outwaited a committed Drew MacIntyre before sneaking a backhander through the netminder to get back within one.

However, within two minutes, a delayed penalty call against the ‘Dogs combined with another instance of disorganized defensive coverage allowed Toronto to restore a two goal advantage. Sam Carrick was left all alone at the side of the net, and Spencer Abbott found him with a cross-ice dish to net his second of the season. Following the goal, Sylvain Lefebvre called a timeout, but seemed to have little to say to his side, instead simply trying to settle things down and slow the frenetic pace of the period.

There did seem to be some fight in the ‘Dogs later in the period, as Dumont again led a dangerous-looking rush. In a play almost exactly mirroring a goal scored at the Bell Centre one week prior, a quick move set up a pass to an open Mike Blunden at the hash marks, but this time the veteran’s one-time attempt sailed wide. Another chance saw newcomer Owens – getting a good look on a line with Martin St. Pierre and Christian Thomas – drive the net hard and bowl over MacIntyre. The ‘Dogs put a rebound into the empty cage, but the goal would be called back in favour of a two minute minor to Owens.

A late penalty meant Hamilton would have to start the third with a kill before trying to get back in the game, but the team couldn’t muster much offensively despite tightening up in their own end. The best chances to claw back into the game had come in that second period, and the Marlies coasted their way to the victory.

Hamilton looks to snap this new skid right away on Saturday night, as the Lake Erie Monsters visit Copps Coliseum.

 

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IceCaps game report

Tryout Filled Bulldogs Drop Preseason Opener to Marlies

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

OAKVILLE, ON – The Hamilton Bulldogs opened their preseason calendar Friday night, and for the first few minutes, picked right back up where they left off last year. A weak line-up filled mostly with tryouts was dominated early by a Toronto Marlies squad highlighted by some of the Leafs’ top prospects, but fought back to make a game of it after Toronto had staked out a 2-0 lead. In the end, however, a valiant effort would fall short, with a late Spencer Abbott goal snapping a 3-3 tie and en empty netter rounding out the 5-3 Marlies victory.

Condon's debut in a Bulldogs sweater was a success, despite the loss (PHOTO: Ontario Reign)
Condon’s debut in a Bulldogs sweater was a success, despite the loss (PHOTO: Ontario Reign)

The Marlies opened the scoring when Mike Condon gave up a juicy rebound on a Kevin Marshall shot, kicking it cross-crease to where Jerry D’Amigo had an easy tap in. Condon appeared shaky when moments later, no one could clear Greg McKegg from in the crease, and his third whack at the puck snuck across the goal line to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. In fairness to the ‘Dogs, their roster contained few players expected to be major contributor to the team this season, while the Marlies iced multiple top Leafs prospects for the first half of a back-to-back.

But the tryouts on the Hamilton side were determined to strut their stuff in what could be their only chance to do so, given the Bulldogs’ short three game pre-season schedule. Though a 5-on-3 proved unfruitful, before the second penalty could expire, a Dalton Thrower point shot was narrowly missed on a deflection attempt by Alex Belzile, but the puck would bounce back in front off Akim Aliu for a Chad Wiseman tap-in before Christopher Gibson could recover, cutting the lead in half. Erik Nystrom – who left Sweden for a mere 25-game tryout deal with the Bulldogs – tied the score with a nifty deflection of a Joel Chouinard blast before the first frame was out.

The Bulldogs stormed out of the gates to start the second period, with the best scoring chance coming from Wiseman again off an Aliu rebound. Aliu was easily Hamilton’s most dangerous forward on the night, but Wiseman couldn’t find the puck in his skates quickly enough to capitalize for what would have been Aliu’s third assist. Though the Dogs were outchancing their rivals, it would be Toronto’s Wade MacLeod who would break the tie, tipping a Sam Carrick point shot past Condon during a delayed penalty.

After appearing shaky on the first two goals, Condon was solid between the pipes, notably robbing a Marlie with a cross-crease dive during a 4-on-3 penalty kill where it seemed he had no chance. The Princeton University alum will be in his first professional season, though he is almost certain to begin in the ECHL with Dustin Tokarski and Robert Mayer in the picture for Hamilton.

The second period ended on a bit of a scary note when Matt Lashoff took a hard hit while pinching in the offensive zone and was slow to get up. That ended his night, and perhaps his entire disappointing tryout with the organization.

Just before the ten minute mark of the third, Kelsey Wilson – the originator of a line-brawl in the game’s first period – appeared to tie the game on a great feed from Belzile, but despite him being the only player near the net, the goal was strangely waved off. The official announcement was that the net had come off its moorings, but the Oakville complex unfortunately offered no in-game replays.

Stefan Fournier would managed to knot things up a minute later, squeaking a shot through Sparks. Fournier nearly went from hero to goat, taking a penalty shortly after his tying goal, but sound goaltending and good defensive work from Chouinard (to go with his pair of helpers) kept it even.

Despite continued strong play from Condon, the Marlies would regain the lead with under two minutes to play. Jerry D’Amigo would spot Spencer Abbott alone on the doorstep after Matt Grassi lost his man in coverage, and Abbott had an easy tap-in to an open side of the net.

Shortly after Condon got to the bench for an extra attacker, Alex Belzile would turn the puck over in the neutral zone, and D’Amigo completed his night as the best skater for either side with an empty netter, icing the 5-3 victory.

The game should have ended there, but there was a strange dust up with fifteen seconds to play. Wilson again dropped the gloves, this time with Sam Carrick, and after a good bout of several blows exchanged each way, a fired up Wilson walked behind Hamilton’s bench, shouting on his way to the dressing room.

 

Hamilton line-up:
Erik Nystrom – Ben Duffy – Jordan Owens
Chad Wiseman – Akim Aliu – Alex Belzile
Justin Courtnall – Joonas Nattinen – Andre Morrissette
Stephen MacAulay – Stefan Fournier – Kelsey Wilson

Dalton Thrower – Matt Lashoff
Jeremy Price – Joel Chouinard
Matt Grassi – Nathan McIver

Mike Condon
Robert Mayer

 

The Bulldogs are next in action Saturday night with a rematch against the Marlies in Cobourg, Ontario. Their final preseason game is scheduled for Thursday, October 3rd against the Utica Comets in Dundas, Ontario, before opening their regular season at home on Friday, October 11th. You can tune in via radio throughout the season on the new home of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Hamilton AM 900 CHML, which will feature brand new pre- and post-game shows sure to highlight many Montreal Canadiens’ prospects.