By Dale Lamontagne, Hamilton Bulldogs Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report
TORONTO, ON — Just less than 24 hours after their Friday night win at FirstOntario Centre, the Hamilton Bulldogs travelled down the QEW to Toronto to take on the Marlies at the Ricoh Coliseum for the rivals back-to-back weekend. The Bulldogs shutout the Marlies on Friday on First Responders Night and, of course, the North American pro debut of highly touted Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, William Nylander. Hamilton spoiled the night for Nylander and the Marlies in front of 10,451 fans at a packed arena.
On Saturday afternoon in Toronto, the Bulldogs extended their winning streak to four games with a 4-3 overtime win.
The first period at Ricoh after twenty-minutes of play would see a tie game. Unlike Friday’s game in Hamilton at the FirstOntario Centre, there were two goals in the opening frame and it didn’t take long after puck drop. Just a couple of minutes after the game began, the Bulldogs struck first with Drayson Bowman scoring his seventh of the season. Bowman received a really nice pass from Mac Bennett, sending him towards the net and beating Antoine Bibeau on the blocker side.
But the Bulldogs would not keep their 1-0 lead for long. Forward Brandon Kozun tied the game for the Toronto Marlies on a nice pass from Spencer Abbott in front of Mike Condon, tipping the shot and beating the Bulldogs netminder five-hole.
Just after the Kozun goal that tied the game, Carter Ashton bumped into Condon. The goal was waived off and Ashton went to the box for the minor penalty. The remainder of the period saw the Bulldogs have a short two-man advantage on the power-play but the ‘Dogs did not capitalize.
Ashton gave the Marlies a quick 2-1 lead just 22 seconds after puck drop to open the second period. The Bulldogs found themselves down by two goals thanks to Matt Finn who scored his first AHL career goal giving Toronto a 3-1 edge.
Maxime Macenauer cut the Marlies lead with a deflection in front, beating Bibeau high blocker side. Gabriel Dumont tied the game for the Bulldogs at the 9:44 mark in the third period with a shot that beat Bibeau, five-hole.
Sixty minutes was not be enough to decide the game, overtime was required! It didn’t take long for the game to end in the extra period, as Hamilton’s Sven Andrighetto scored to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 win and a sweep in the home-and-home against the Marlies.
By Dale Lamontagne, Hamilton Bulldogs Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report
HAMILTON, ON — In the second game of the back-to-back between the Hamilton Bulldogs and Grand Rapids Griffins, the ‘Dogs skated away with a nice 5-2 victory to sweep the weekend set against the Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate.
It didn’t take long to see the first goal of the game.
The Hamilton Bulldogs struck first with Nick Sorkin cleaning up the rebound in front of Jared Coreau, where he backhanded the puck by his glove hand. That was Sorkin’s fourth goal of the season.
The Bulldogs went up 2-0 fourteen minutes into the opening frame, thanks to Davis Drewiske.
Lots of credit goes to Maxime Macenauer, who fed Drewiske a nice pass, where he roofed it top corner with a wicked backhand shot. It was a helluva shot that you rarely see Drewiske do.
Jack Nevins and Chris Burton dropped the gloves right off the faceoff, but the officials would intervene before the two could scrap it out. So both players went off for minor unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and the game was played 4-on-4. Last week, Jarred Tinordi was knocked out flat after participating in a staged fight with a Utica Comets player and officials were quick to make sure the fight did not happen.
With only a handful of seconds left in the 4-on-4, the Griffins cut the Bulldogs lead in half, with Mitch Callahan beating Mike Condon on the blocker side.
Once Nevins and Burton got out of the box, they wasted no time beginning a fight. Both players landed a bunch of punches to the face and head area, but Nevins got the upper hand as he took Burton down to the ice.
The Griffins started the second period on a good note as they were able to tie the game on the breakaway.
Forward Landon Ferraro, son of former NHL’er Ray, scored on the breakaway after receiving the puck at center ice as a Bulldogs player turned it over.
But moments after the Griffins tied the game, the Bulldogs got their lead back after Charles Hudon and Jacob De La Rose had a nice 2-on-1 opportunity. Hudon dished to De La Rose the puck who beat Coreau on the blocker side.
A little after the mid-way mark in the second, Nathan Paetsch was called for slashing, but he was not happy about it as he broke his stick over his net, then slammed the Griffins bench door before heading down the tunnel. Paetsch was given a slashing, unsportsmanlike conduct and 10 minute game misconduct.
Fast forward with 1:35 left, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 4-2 on the power-play.
Forward Hudon blasted the shot from the point and Coreau made the save, but there would be a huge rebound with Daniel Carr tucking the puck away to extend the ‘Dogs lead.
Carr’s goal would send the ‘Dogs into the second intermission up by two goals.
The Bulldogsmade it a 5-2 game just a couple of minutes into the third period, thanks to T.J. Hensick who buried a wrap-around-goal.
The ‘Dogs hung on to their 5-2 lead for the remainder of the period, defeating the Griffins for the second night in a row.
The Bulldogs are back in action next Friday as they host William Nylander and the Toronto Marlies. Game time is at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets at hamiltonbulldogs.com/tickets.
HAMILTON, ONT — The Hamilton Bulldogs started the week off at home on a good note with a huge win over the Rochester Americans at FirstOntario Centre during the annual school day game in front of 13,000 loud school kids, defeating the sluggish Amerks 6-1. The Bulldogs then hosted the Adirondack Flames for a two game set on Friday and Saturday, but the outcome would not be in favour of the struggling Bulldogs’ team.
Despite back-to-back losses, the Bulldogs played well at times, especially in the second period during Saturday’s game when Sven Andrighetto scored on the power-play, (yes, the power-play) to give the ‘Dogs a 2-1 lead. But then the Bulldogs would show similar signs of last season with mid-late period blowouts.
Both losses on Friday and Saturday resulted in third period blowouts. The Flames would score a total of six goals in two periods this weekend to rob the ‘Dogs from what looked like a victory.
“Tonight [Saturday] was just three shifts. We were soft in front of the net and we didn’t get those rebounds.” said Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre post-game on Saturday. “Our second period tonight was probably the best all season offensively. In the third period, I don’t know what happened. It’s sad to see, but at least the guys battled to the end.” said Lefebvre.
Last season in Hamilton, the Bulldogs would play a really good first period where they would typically score a goal, but then they would let the game get out of control and the opponent would score multiple goals in both the second and third periods leading them to a victory. But a big issue with the 2013-14 roster was that they were not an offensive power-house team and that would be their issue all season. They just could not score.
But that is not the case with the 2014-15 Bulldogs squad.
This season, the Bulldogs are scoring multiple goals a game – and so they should with the current roster that has been iced. On paper, the Bulldogs should be a playoff contender. But unfortunately, we continue to see similar period blowouts; this time in the third period, like last year.
The Bulldogs need the defence to setup and stop trying to rely on the goaltending, something that was well used last season. And the forwards need to stay consistent and continue to score. At least we know the Bulldogs can now score, but they need to tighten up defensively and let the goaltenders breath a little, and of course, play a full 60-minute game.
”You can’t take one shift off, you can’t take five minutes off and then leave. But we took three minutes off and they scored three goals.” said Bulldogs captain Gabriel Dumont post-game on Saturday. “I think we’re feeling a little too comfy when we come back from the second going into the third period. Just need to stay focused.” said a frustrated Dumont.
Now that the ‘Dogs are aware of this issue, they may be able to turn things around this week in St. John’s?
The Bulldogs will travel to St. John’s, Newfoundland for a back-to-back series against the IceCaps on Thursday and Friday, and then back home in Hamilton for a game against the Rochester Americans at FirstOntario Centre.
The IceCaps have played 15 games (as of Sunday) and are currently 15th in the Eastern Conference and hold a 3-8-4 record. If the Bulldogs can take advantage of the struggling IceCaps team and come home with at least a win, or two, and get back above the .500 mark, then that should set them up nicely for their game against the 7th place Americans in the Western Conference.
If the Bulldogs can leave the upcoming week with a 2-1-0 record, then that would be good because they will be above .500 and their upsetting week which saw two back-to-back losses to the Flames will be behind them. A 3-0-0 record would be even better, but lets be reasonable here.
BY THE NUMBERS
The power-play sits at 29th overall (7.7%)
Home: Hamilton has had 30 power-play opportunities at home this season, scoring only 3 goals for a PP% of 10.0.
Road: The Bulldogs have had 22 power-play opportunities on the road this season, scoring only 1 goal for a PP% of 4.5. Sit 30th overall
The penalty-killing is tied for third overall in the AHL with a PK% of 90.0.
The PK on Saturday night was good, minus the Flames first goal. But the ‘Dogs had a few quality chances to score and Maxime Macenauer was able to shoot a puck off the post after a solid rush up the wing to the Flames’ net.
“I think we have a pretty good PK right now.” said Dumont. ”If we can put a little bit of pressure on the entries and turnovers we’ll be good.”
Coach Lefebvre told me on Saturday that they hope to see Eric Tangradi, who’s been out with a lower-body injury, rejoin the team on the trip down east. He is considered day-to-day.
MONTREAL, QUE. – Montreal Canadiens and Hamilton Bulldogs General Manager Marc Bergevin announced today the Bulldogs have signed forward Maxime Macenauer to a one-year American Hockey League contract for the 2014-15 season.
Macenauer spent the 2013-14 season with the Bulldogs. In 74 regular season games with Hamilton, the 25-year-old recorded 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) and 56 penalty minutes.
The 6-0, 200-pound forward is a veteran of more than 250 National Hockey League and AHL games combined. In 29 career NHL regular season games with the Anaheim Ducks, the Laval, Que. native has recorded four points (one goal, three assists) and 18 penalty minutes. In 243 career AHL regular season games with the Bulldogs, St. John’s IceCaps and Syracuse Crunch, he has recorded 85 points (37 goals, 48 assists) and 182 penalty minutes.
Macenauer was originally selected by the Ducks in the third round (63rd overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Hamilton Bulldogs 2014-15 season tickets, flex tickets, group tickets and single-game tickets are on sale now. For more information, call 1-866-DOGS-TIX or visit hamiltonbulldogs.com.
HAMILTON, ON – It was a weekend of ups and downs for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Despite solid efforts that had their head coach proud in all three outings, a 6-2 Saturday night offensive outburst on the road was sandwiched between two snakebitten losses at Copps Coliseum. The 1-2-0 weekend means the ‘Dogs have now lost four of their last six games on the heels of a season-high six-game win streak, dropping them out of a playoff spot for the time being, though they of course remain in the thick of the race.
Hamilton was dealing with the absence of some top players during this stretch, as both Nathan Beaulieu and Louis Leblanc were up in Montreal. Moreover, Sunday’s game required a gutsy effort by the d-men who were in the line-up, as not only was it a third game in less than 72 hours, but the club lost Morgan Ellis – he who I mentioned last week had taken on a far bigger role with the squad – to an apparent shoulder or arm injury midway through the game, forcing them to play out the final period and a half with just five blueliners. It is unknown how long Ellis will be out for, but as a security measure, the ‘Dogs signed ECHL’er Myles Harvey – a 25-year old 6’5”, 225 lbs pro rookie – to a professional tryout agreement.
– Christian Thomas: Thomas and Sven Andrighetto (who I mentioned last time as trending upwards, and I’m trying to avoid using the same players in consecutive installments) have been Hamilton’s best two forward of late, and coach Sylvain Lefebvre has stuck them together on a line in Louis Leblanc’s absence. In his second year as a pro, the 5’9” 21-year old winger missed the first part of the season with a sports hernia, produced when he returned to the line-up, then seemed to hit a bit of a wall which could have been a conditioning issue due to the time off. Of late however, he frequently leads the team in scoring chances, which helped him collect two goals and an assist over the course of the weekend. While not as feisty as fellow little man Brendan Gallagher, Thomas doesn’t shy away from going to the net. He’s just as comfortable hanging around the high slot, though, as that is where he can unleash his greatest weapon: a rocket launcher arsenal of powerful shots. As a reward for his recent good play and to see how he can handle tougher competition, the Canadiens called Thomas up Thursday evening. The timing is especially nice for the prospect given Montreal plays Tampa Bay on Saturday, and Thomas’s father – former NHL’er Steve Thomas – is a player development consultant with the Lightning.
– Maxime Macenauer: With skilled wingers like Andrighetto and Thomas on the first line, one might expect an equally skilled center like Martin St. Pierre to be the trio’s pivot. But one would be wrong, as that honour has been bestowed upon Macenauer, who has been a coach’s favourite in Hamilton right from the start of the season. You’ll never be “wow’ed” watching him play, but the 25-year old Laval native seems to do all the little things right on the ice. He plays a jack-of-all-trade, master-at-none type of role, capable of killing penalties, winning face-offs, clearing the puck in defensive situations, and dishing to teammates. At 6’0” and 200 lbs, he’s average sized, which about sums up most of his other abilities as well. He works hard and will rarely put you in a trouble situation for sending him out on the ice. For these reasons, Lefebvre may see him as a safety net, which has resulted in significant ice time at even strength, on the powerplay, and on the P.K.
– Jarred Tinordi: If you were to compare Tinordi’s play in Hamilton to how he looked in Montreal during this year’s training camp, it has been a disappointing season for the 21-year old. At 6’6” and 218 lbs, you would hope to see him working on his physical game at the AHL level, but the hits have been few and far between this season, deciding his style was better suited to playing a positional defensive game rather than running around and chasing the opposition. Unfortunately even that has taken some time, as he is far from an impermeable forcefield in his own end, but part of that may simply be confidence. Undoubtedly Tinordi had illusions of grandeur starting the year in the NHL, and the return to the American League was a difficult transition, but since being moved to the top pairing with Greg Pateryn, his game has taken a step forward. Playing with a partner that he doesn’t have to worry about covering for, he seems more confident in his own skates. Though still not throwing big hits, the American behemoth is an adequate crease-clearer, and unlike a Doug Murray or Hal Gill, is a very smooth skater, able to pick his spots and support offensive breakouts despite what his low point total would make one think. If not overly physical during game action, Tinordi never shies away from after the whistle scrums, always there to stand up for a teammate and dropping the gloves with semi-regularity.
IN A RUT
– Martin St. Pierre: It is imperative that Sylvain Lefebve separates St. Pierre from linemate Patrick Holland to get at least one of the two should-be-AHL-stars going. They have been paired at five-on-five for some time now, and the line has become a virtual black hole for the Bulldogs, generating little in the way of offensive opportunities despite the skill sets of its members. Though he may lead the team in scoring, captain St. Pierre has been a disappointment this season, unable to play an offensive catalyst role at even strength, and frequently guilty of poor or lazy penalties. In the face-off dot, the team relies heavily on Macenauer and Joonas Nattinen, effectively limiting St. Pierre to a role of powerplay specialist. While that definitely has its uses, it’s not the high impact signing the Bulldogs believed they had bagged when inking the veteran last summer. Plus-minus may not be a high quality statistic, but his -7 being second worst on the team to only Nick Tarnasky is very reflective of his play this year.
– Mike Blunden: It’s hard to dislike Mike Blunden. The former second round selection of the Chicago Blackhawks is a model teammate and works hard every shift. He can play a physical game with his 6’3” frame, and positions himself well in the slot to obtain scoring chances nightly. Unfortunately his weak skating and mediocre hands have betrayed him this season, as the ‘Dogs needed him to take on a more offensive role on a team with little experienced firepower. Though he remains the team’s fourth leading scorer, he has been ice cold in 2014, with only 1 assist and a -2 rating in his past nine games. When the team is winning, it’s easy to laugh at the number of great Gabriel Dumont set-ups that Blunden fans on or fires wide. But when the goals are tougher to come by, what should be a dependable and productive line has been letting the team down at times.
– Greg Pateryn: This isn’t to say that Pateryn has been bad, but just as I spoke so very highly of him earlier this season, it’s fair to point out that the Pateryn of the past five or so games hasn’t been playing up to that level. Part of it may be learning to play with Jarred Tinordi after spending significant time beside Nathan Beaulieu, but Pateryn has only a single point to go with a -1 rating in his past nine games while looking more human in his own end following a dominant start. The injury to Ellis and the absence of Beaulieu will put a lot of pressure on Pateryn and Tinordi as the Bulldogs head out for an extended road trip, so the team needs the 23-year old to be at his best, rather than committing the kind of turnovers we’ve seen most recently.
The Bulldogs head out west this weekend for two games against the Abbotsford Heat, and remain on the road for stops in Rockford, Milwaukee, Binghamton, and Toronto. They’ll return home to the newly renamed FirstOntario Place (formerly Copps Coliseum) for a date with the Texas Stars on February 15. As the team finds itself in a playoff battle in the second half of the regular season, home crowds been gaining steam in Hamilton creating a great atmosphere, so be sure to check the team out if you’re in the area, with tickets available at http://www.hamiltonbulldogs.com/.
HAMILTON, ON – Since the beginning of the season, the Hamilton Bulldogs have been a hot-and-cold hockey club. Thus it shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that after their offense exploded for six goals on the road on Saturday, it would go cold again at home Sunday, managing only a single tally while being thoroughly outplayed and outshot in a 4-1 loss, dropping them back out of a playoff position in the American Hockey League’s tight Western Conference standings.
Like the weekend’s two prior outings, the Bulldogs again got off to a good start with Jarred Tinrodi cutting to the net on the opening shift before having his backhand stopped by Chicago’s Matt Climie. Hamilton would also head to the game’s first powerplay a couple of minutes later, but the man advantage has been ice cold of late (0/13 in Friday and Saturday’s games combined) and produced little in the way of chances.
A questionable call on Gabriel Dumont allowed Chicago to open the scoring past the midway point of the period. Dumont was in a one-on-one race with a Wolves skater away from the puck as Hamilton broke out, and by virtue of being stronger than his rival, stayed on his feet while the defender fell. Dumont was whistled for interference, and despite two big Nathan McIver shot blocks on the penalty kill, a rebound out to Dmitrij Jaskin was roofed over a fallen Robert Mayer.
Tinordi would be the beneficiary of two other Bulldog set-ups for great scoring chances, as the speedy big man showed no reluctance to pinch in on the rush. Unfortunately, for all the power in the behemoth’s slapper, it lacks in accuracy, and both opportunities sailed wide.
The Wolves added to their lead just over a minute later, when Jaskin again led a rush down the wing. A weak, off-angle shot was stopped by Mayer, but the goaltender awkwardly deflected the puck right to the crowd in the front of the net, helplessly seeing it bounce off Tyler Shattock and into the cage behind him.
The decision to start Mayer on Sunday was a curious one from the outset. Dustin Tokarski has emerged as not only the team’s true starter, but one of the best goaltenders in the league. While you want to give both goaltenders action in a three games in three nights stretch, Mayer had started Saturday’s 7 PM game ahead of Sunday’s 4 PM afternoon tilt. Certainly, Mayer got the win (2 GA) Saturday compared to Tokarski’s Friday loss (2 GA), but you need to go with the starter you believe gives you the best chance to win, and Tokarski boasts a .928 save percentage, not having allowed more than two goals in his past nine starts (6-2-1 record in that span). Coach Sylvain Lefebvre made it evident early in the season that he was prepared to give Mayer as much as ice time as he could “merit,” while quickly taking it away from Tokarski when the team couldn’t pull through for a win. The platoon system works when you have two netminders of comparable quality, but that is not the current situation with the Bulldogs.
That isn’t to say Mayer was solely to blame for his side trailing 2-0 after twenty minutes, as Hamilton was also outshot 17-5, but his rebound control was off all night.
Home fans got excited in the period’s dying seconds, when a shorthanded Gabriel Dumont rush drew a penalty which prevented the pesky center from shooting. Dumont did manage to spot Mike Blunden at the side of the net, but Blunden was well after the buzzer with his tap-in goal, resulting in a quick wave-off.
It was another Mayer gaff that gave Chicago an insurmountable advantage early in the second. Joel Edmundson fired a shot on a harmless looking rush that caught the Bulldog keeper slightly off his angle and found the corner of the net, stretching the lead to 3-0.
A similar rush the other direction saw Hamilton climb back to within two on a rare second period scoring chance, with Christian Thomas rifling a wrister from the top of the face-off circle past Climie. For Thomas, it was his second goal and third point in his past two games, as he and Sven Andrighetto have taken over as the team’s best forwards. The two were united on a top line with center Maxime Macenauer for the night.
Despite being outplayed and badly outshot, it appeared momentarily like the Bulldogs had pulled within one. After a slick move, Andrighetto fired over the net, but the puck bounced back out in front, off some part of the crowd, and into the net. It looked like it may have caromed off netminder Climie’s back, but the referee ruled that it had in fact gone off Macenauer’s high stick and in, immediately being called no goal with no review of the play.
Before the period was out, the Wolves restored their three goal advantage. A difficult shift for the duo of Darren Dietz and Nathan McIver resulted in a turnover and set-up for Mark Cundari. Mayer was again slow to come out and challenge as Cundari’s shot found the back of the goal.
Adding injury to insult, Morgan Ellis – who had taken on a significant role on the Hamilton blueline of late – slid awkwardly into the boards in the period’s final minutes, laying painfully on the ice until a trainer could reach him. Though he skated off under his own strength, he was tended to immediately on the bench and did not return for the final frame.
Maxime Macenauer had a chance to help the Bulldogs’ climb back into the game before the third period’s midway mark when he finished off a solo rush with a wrister that found only iron. His line and the fourth unit anchored by Joonas Nattinen and Justin Courtnall were the only ones that seemed to be clicking on the afternoon, causing Coach Lefebvre to shuffle his deck mid-game.
Climie hadn’t been tested much throughout the net, but needed to come up big in the closing moments to stymie a comeback effort. First it was a kick save on a Jordan Owens attempt set-up by a spinning Martin St Pierre dish. Next it was a glove stop on Sven Andrighetto who had been alone at the side of the goal after accepting a feed from Jarred Tinordi.
With those stops, the Wolves were able to sit on their lead the rest of the way, handing the fatigued home side their fourth loss in the past six games.
After the game, Macenauer confirmed he did in fact touch the puck on the disallowed goal which could have completely changed the night’s course. “Ya, I touched it. I mean it’s a close call. I felt like they should have probably reviewed it. It was probably a high stick, but you never know. I felt like I might have touched it just below the cross bar.” On his own promotion to the top line, the pivot feels the coach’s confidence in his game has helped him progress throughout the season. “I always thought I could play a lot of minutes in every situation, and that’s what I’ve tried to prove since the start of the season.”
While it wasn’t the outcome he had hoped for, Lefebvre was proud of his team’s compete level after a tough weekend. “Really tough physical game last night. Guys gave everything they had. They emptied the tank big time. Can’t be not satisfied with the effort. It’s tough, but we have guys that can log some minutes. We got to Lake Erie at 4 o’clock Saturday morning, and then back here at 4:30 this morning.”
On his injured blueliner Ellis, the coach also confirmed that the situation may have been just as bad as it looked. “I haven’t talked to doctors yet, but it’s an upper body injury, and he’ll probably miss some time.”
The Bulldogs embark on a lengthy road trip next which will hopefully allow them to regroup from the current struggles. They’ll visit five cities as visitors for their next six games, only returning home to Copps Coliseum for a tilt with the Texas Stars on February 15th.