POST-GAME AUDIO: Greg Pateryn | Sylvain Lefebvre
HAMILTON, ON – If the Hamilton Bulldogs could play full games like it was the final two minutes of the third period, they’d be near impossible to beat. Just when it looked like a typical night for a team on the trail end of a three-in-three marathon, the ‘Dogs proved there was in fact still something left in the tank, battling back to twice pull within one, but ultimately coming up short in a 3-2 loss to rival Toronto Marlies.
The fact that the Bulldogs were able to dress their full top four on defense – Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, and Magnus Nygren – for the first time this season was of no help early on. Right off the game’s opening shift, a defensive end turnover allowed Jerred Smithson to finish off a passing play and beat Robert Mayer just 24 seconds after the opening face-off.
A recurring storyline would next rear its ugly head as Hamilton took the game’s first three penalties, and despite an earlier prolonged 5-on-3 kill (thanks to two hit goal posts), just 14 seconds after Greg Pateryn was sent off for a high stick, Greg McKegg tucked a Josh Leivo centering feed just inside the post for a 2-0 Toronto lead.
Hamilton showed signs of life in the second, notably thanks to four powerplay opportunities, but the results were repeated broken plays and missed shots, typical of a tired hockey club. The best chances belonged to Akim Aliu – firing a shot from a tough angle wide of a completely open cage after a Martin St. Pierre feed – and Sven Andrighetto, the club’s most dangerous forward throughout the night rejected on multiple occasions by Drew MacIntyre.
If the second period was characterized by a lack of finishing ability for the Bulldogs, the third period looked like it’d provide further evidence to the team’s tanks being on empty. Erik Nystrom had the team’s only real scoring opportunity of the first fifteen minutes on a long shot which looked dangerous just thanks to MacIntyre losing his balance.
But how quickly a hockey game can change. Aliu led the charge in the period’s final minutes, hauled down by Korbinian Holzer as he tried to break away, and thus drawing a penalty. The powerplay generated strong pressure, as Greg Pateryn and Nathan Beaulieu patrolled the line effectively. Just prior to its expiry, a Pateryn shot was blocked, but the second year pro collected the rebound and fed Beaulieu, whose shot would bounce on to Nick Tarnasky‘s stick in traffic down low. Tarnasky outwaited a falling MacIntyre for his team-leading fifth of the season, giving the home side late life.
With an offensive zone face-off, coach Sylvain Lefebvre called a timeout and pulled Robert Mayer. The ‘Dogs got exactly what they wanted with a win on the draw, but Magnus Nygren suffered a split second mental lapse, feather a long pass across the blueline to be picked off by the Marlies. Jerry D’Amigo won the race down ice and seemed to seal the game with an empty netter.
The Bulldogs proved one last time on the night that “never saying die” is a part of the identity of this year’s squad, when Greg Pateryn took a Martin St. Pierre centering pass and blasted it through MacIntyre, but with only 17 seconds left on the clock, it was too little, too late.
Coach Sylvain Lefebvre didn’t mince words about his feelings towards the AHL’s three games in three nights scheduling, calling it “near inhuman,” and adding that he was happy of his team’s efforts under such circumstanes.
Pateryn wasn’t quite as pleased with his side’s effort, indicating the need for the team to start playing for a full sixty minutes moving forward. A funny moment occurred post-game when he was asked if the frequent injuries and resulting call-ups to Montreal this season were a distraction.
“It’s not a distraction at all. I think for guys when it’s their first time up and down, it’s overwhelming at first. But the guys that have been going up and down, they realize what the reason is, and what their role is, and when you come back here, it’s for a certain reason, and you just gotta work on the things they tell you too. And you hopefully get another chance up there.” This scrum was taking place just outside the Bulldogs’ dressing room door, and immediately at this moment – as if scripted – Louis Leblanc pushed out the door past Pateryn carrying his equipment bag (for his call-up to Montreal). While the next question is being asked, Pateryn turns his head over his shoulder, and utters a “See ya Louis!” Not a distraction at all I’d say.
The Bulldogs will have a chance for revenge next Friday, when the Marlies return to Copps Coliseum for the third matchup of the season between the Ontario squads. The two sides are now tied with 10 points each through the season’s first eight games.