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IceCaps game report

Comets Fly Past Andrighetto, Bulldogs [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Sven Andrighetto | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – On paper, the 1-8-2 Utica Comets seemed like the perfect visitors to cure what had been ailing the Hamilton Bulldogs of late. But just two days after what should have been the most complete roster the ‘Dogs had iced on the year was embarrassed 6-1 at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the team again showed up to Copps Coliseum without a high enough compete level to get back into the win column. Rather than rise to the occasion, Hamilton played down to the level of its opposition, trading chances evenly with Utica for most of the evening, only to end up on the wrong side of a 3-1 decision.

When in Hamilton, Mike Blunden has been among the 'Dogs' top forwards, and he was that again Sunday, along with linemate Sven Andrighetto
When in Hamilton, Mike Blunden has been among the ‘Dogs’ top forwards, and he was that again Sunday, along with linemate Sven Andrighetto (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC)

Trying to rebound from Friday’s tough loss, the Bulldogs found themselves shorthanded Sunday – missing Greg Pateryn and Gabriel Dumont due to call-ups to Montreal, and Patrick Holland with a fresh minor injury.

Despite this, the ‘Dogs seemed to respond well out of the gates, outshooting the Comets 17-7 in the first period, even if there were few quality scoring opportunities for either side. The home team’s best chance come on a near-perfect powerplay set-up in the slot for Magnus Nygren, but the Swede failed to get sufficient wood on the puck to one-time it past Joacim Eriksson. While the less busy of the two netminders, Dustin Tokarski also came up big with a pair of glove saves on odd-man rushes.

Whatever momentum the ‘Dogs had built through twenty minutes failed to carry over into the second. Utica had Hamilton pinned in its own end for the first five minutes, but a lucky break would be needed to help them open the game’s scoring. The Bulldogs defended well backchecking to try to break up a 2-on-1 rush, when a seemingly broken pass from Pascal Pelletier towards Zach Hamil bounced off his skate and slid slowly past a sliding Tokarski.

Throughout the period, the Comets had numerous chances to add to their lead, as due to a combination of questionable defense and bad ice, pucks were regularly pinballed around the Hamilton end. Solid play from Tokarski and a little luck kept a second puck from penetrating the Bulldog goal, setting the stage for a Sven Andrighetto equalizer in the frame’s final minute. A play at the Utica blueline was ruled onside by the linesman despite the overhead view strongly suggesting the puck had left the zone, and ensuing offensive zone pressure culminated with Andrighetto’s potting of the rebound of a Mike Blunden shot from the lip of the crease to tie the game at one. The goal was Andrighetto’s sixth and his tenth point, both categories in which he leads the team despite his rookie status.

Late period goals are said to be key momentum-changers, yet just like between the first and second periods, the ‘Dogs seemed to lose any advantages they’d earned in the dressing room once again. Also in similar fashion to the second, the early third period would see the Comets fail to capitalize on multiple manufactured opportunities only to regain the lead thanks to a lucky bounce. Defenseman Peter Andersson attempted to dump a puck to the corner in the Hamilton end, but it hopped off the skate of Morgan Ellis and straight onto the blade of Alexandre Grenier, alone in front with only an empty cage to shoot at.

The Bulldogs would come close to drawing even at the eleven minute mark as both Ben Duffy and Akim Aliu had great whacks at a loose puck in the blue paint, but neither could beat Eriksson. Aliu went from near hero to goat moments later, however, taking a boarding penalty with fewer than eight minutes to play, and forcing his teammates to come up with a big kill.

Aliu’s day wouldn’t end there, though, as with Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker in the game’s final minute, Pascal Pelletier was called for a slash that broke Aliu’s stick. The Bulldogs had two rushes during their 6-on-4 manpower advantage, but both Nathan Beaulieu and Martin St. Pierre in turn coughed pucks up, with the latter intercepted by Colin Stuart, who bounced a rolling puck off the boards, all the way down the ice, and into the deserted Hamilton net.

This loss was Hamilton’s fourth in a row (three in regulation) and drops their record on the young season to 5-5-3. While the production of a young player like Andrighetto is encouraging, the team needs to get more out of the likes of Nathan BeaulieuJarred Tinordi, and Martin St. Pierre if it is to contend for a playoff position. The team’s next chance to snap out of its current funk comes in a special weekday game 10 AM Wednesday against the Rochester Americans.

 

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IceCaps game report

Second Period Collapse Sinks Bulldogs Against Griffins [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Martin St. Pierre | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – Military Appreciation Night won’t go down as one to remember in Hamilton. Despite the Bulldogs playing the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapid Griffins relatively evenly most of the night, a total defensive and goaltending collapse midway through the second period saw the visitors deposit four pucks into the ‘Dog net in a 1:13 span to take over the game en route to an easy 6-1 victory.

Sven Andrighetto drew even with Louis Leblanc and Nick Tarnasky for the team lead with his 5th goal of the season in the blowout loss.
Sven Andrighetto drew even with Louis Leblanc and Nick Tarnasky for the team lead with his 5th goal of the season in the blowout loss.

The Bulldogs had generated the better early-game chances when a harmless looking shift in their defensive end saw a puck pop up to Cory Emmerton. The long-time veteran of the Detroit organization caught the puck, dropped it and fired a quick shot with perfect accuracy, wringing off the post and in past a slow-to-react Robert Mayer.

In an ironic twist on Military Appreciation Night, it was a lack of discipline that then got the home team in further trouble, as first a Greg Pateryn board and then a Maxime Macenauer high stick left Hamilton two men short. A unit of Gabriel DumontNathan Beaulieu, and Jarred Tinordi collapsed tight to the net to protect Mayer, but after Dumont took a shot off the right hand leaving him hobbled, AHL superstar Gustav Nyquist found 22-year old Swede Calle Jarnkork at the top of the face-off circle to blast a one-time shot to the back of the net.

There was reason to suspect another comeback effort may have been in the cards for the Bulldogs as they buzzed out of the gate to start the second period. One wraparound chance looked like it may have crossed the goal line, but video review could not conclusively prove that the puck had gone in under Petr Mrazek.

Truthfully, there was no reason to suspect the meltdown that would occur next, starting at the 10:52 mark of the middle stanza. In fact, while it didn’t entirely reflect the balance of play, Hamilton led 22-10 on the shot clock at that point. But then, just after the ‘Dogs had failed to draw within one on a powerplay opportunity, a harmless looking wrister from just inside the blueline off the blade of Andrej Nestrasil somehow went right through Mayer. And the Griffins were hardly done there. Twenty-three seconds later it was Jarnkrok, again on a Nyquist feed, firing his second past the ‘Dogs starter. If that wasn’t enough, a quick rush off the ensuing face-off saw Mayer leave a Nestrasil rebound just outside the blue paint where Mitch Callahan was able to tap it in past the floundering keeper. Three goals in 33 seconds made it a 5-0 game and ended the night for Mayer, paving way for Dustin Tokarski.

Even if a 5-0 game seems out of reach, sometimes changing netminders can help to settle a side down, but that wasn’t the case on this night. The Bulldogs would surrender their fourth goal in a 1:13 span as Teemu Pulkkinen got his stick on a Ryan Sproul shot off the rush on the first shot Tokarski would face.

Typical of a blowout, the third period was a penalty-filled affair as refs kept whistles in their mouths to keep things in check. Despite the numerous powerplays, there were few chances either way, until Sven Andrighetto spoiled Mrazek’s shutout bid with the man advantage on a shot from just inside the blueline in the game’s final minute.

Post-game, captain Martin St. Pierre was at a loss to explain how this game got away from his troops. “It was just a mental breakdown. There’s no fatigue or anything else to blame. It doesn’t matter who’s on the ice after a disallowed goal or after they score one or two really quick. It’s just a matter of bouncing back and forgetting about that. But we just dwelled on it and we shot ourselves in the foot. There’s no one else to blame except us.”

The Bulldogs will take what they can out of this one with less than 48 hours to think about it before they are back in action at home again Sunday against the struggling Utica Comets – a perfect opportunity to rebound.

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IceCaps game report

Griffins Hand Indisiciplined Bulldogs First Loss [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Sylvain Lefebvre | Greg Pateryn | Akim Aliu

HAMILTON, ON – A night of undisciplined penalties cost the Hamilton Bulldogs a chance at a perfect opening weekend at home, but the resilient squad managed to salvage a point in a game where they had to kill nine minor penalties. After Akim Aliu tied the game at three with ten seconds remaining in regulation time, all five Bulldog shootout participants were stopped, while Gustav Nyquist would beat Robert Mayer to earn the defending Calder Cup champions a 4-3 victory.

When Andrighetto speaks of this game to his grandchildren, he'll recall his first professional goal and game-tying assist, and not his bad penalty on a backcheck. (PHOTO:  Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)
When Andrighetto speaks of this game to his grandchildren, he’ll recall his first professional goal and game-tying assist, and not his bad penalty on a backcheck. (PHOTO: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

For the second night in a row, the Bulldogs started the game strong, as it was again defenseman Greg Pateryn that opened the game’s scoring. On a powerplay, Patrick Holland took a Griffins’ defenseman hard to the net, screening netminder Petr Mrazek, and helping Pateryn’s blast off a Magnus Nygren feed to find the back of the net.

In the second, Hamilton looked to add to its lead thanks to a strong shift from the experienced trio of Mike BlundenGabriel Dumont, and Louis Leblanc. First an offensive zone cycle led to a goal post being struck, and then in the same shift, a Leblanc breakaway and subsequent rebound were somehow kept out by Mrazek. Unfortunately, the play led to two Bulldog forwards lying on the ice behind the goal line, and the Griffins converted rushing the puck the other way. A lucky bounce ended up on the stick of star Gustav Nyquist who made no mistake in beating Robert Mayer.

The Bulldogs didn’t relent, regaining their lead just 18 seconds later, when two Patrick Holland shots were stopped, but Sven Andrighetto was waiting on the doorstep to tap in a rebound for his first professional goal. From there, however, the ‘Dogs indiscipline was the key storyline, as the team took a string of six consecutive penalties, with a strong penalty killing effort finally relenting on the last opportunity late in the second. Nyquist again would this time find Calle Jarnkrok all alone in the slot to one-time a shot past a fallen Mayer, who had made numerous difficult saves to keep the ‘Dogs ahead up till that point.

The parade to the penalty box continued early in the third, and the Griffins would make the Bulldogs pay. With Martin St. Pierre in the box for the second time, Jeff Hoggan collected a rebound of a shot that bounced off two posts and deposited it into the goal behind an outstretched Mayer.

It looked like the game may be done when a miscommunication between Drew Schiestel and Nathan McIver created a too many men call with under 8 minutes to go, but a successful penalty kill allowed the home team to pull Mayer for an extra skater in the game’s final minute. After a Greg Pateryn shot was stopped by Mrazek’s blocker, an Andrighetto shot bounced off a defender and on to the stick of Akim Aliu, whose whack at the puck went up over the Red Wings’ prospect to even the score.

Hamilton – the better team at 5-on-5 (which was rare) for most of the night – failed to carry the momentum of the tying goal into overtime, and the extra frame solved nothing. A shootout was necessary, where the bad ice forced players to keep things relatively simple, and in the end, only a Gustav Nyquist shot would beat either netminder, slipping between Mayer’s legs for the game winner.

The shootout loss drops the ‘Dogs to 1-0-1 to start the season, with the team taking to the road for the first time next weekend for trips to Lake Erie and Toronto.

Hamilton Bulldog lines:

Sven Andrighetto – Martin St. Pierre – Patrick Holland
Mike Blunden – Gabriel Dumont – Louis Leblanc
Erik Nystrom – Ben Duffy – Akim Aliu
Justin Courtnall – Joonas Nattinen – Nick Tarnasky

Joel Chouinard – Greg Pateryn
Drew Schiestel – Darren Dietz
Magnus Nygren – Nathan McIver

Robert Mayer
Dustin Tokarski

Three Stars:

1. Gustav Nyquist
2. Robert Mayer
3. Jeff Hoggan

Hardest Working Bulldog: Greg Pateryn

Honourable mentions to Mike Blunden, Louis Leblanc, Sven Andrighetto

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IceCaps game report

Marlies Sweep Preseason Back-to-Back vs Bulldogs

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

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.

Patrick Holland
Patrick Holland (Photo: Getty Images)

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.

Bulldogs Line-up:
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

Dustin Tokarski
Robert Mayer