IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Close Season with Strong Effort but Lose to Americans [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Sebastian Collberg | Nathan Beaulieu | Frederic St. Denis

HAMILTON, ON – Let’s face it: It’s been a difficult AHL season for the Hamilton Bulldogs. The team finished the season in last place in the league, and this attributable to a combination of inexperience on the ice and behind the bench, poor play, and bad luck. Sunday, the ‘Dogs at least turned in a strong effort for the fans in their season finale, though they would ultimately fall to the Rochester Americans by a 4-1 score.

Nathan Beaulieu was named Hamilton's Rookie of the Year and M.V.P., while sharing top defenseman honours with Jarred Tinordi (PHOTO: HAMILTON BULLDOGS)
Nathan Beaulieu was named Hamilton’s Rookie of the Year and M.V.P., while sharing top defenseman honours with Jarred Tinordi (PHOTO: HAMILTON BULLDOGS)

The Bulldogs got off to a strong start, generating some opportunities but this without showing any killer instinct to create high percentage scoring chances. It would end up biting them as a harmless looking Luke Adam shot was deflected by Maxime Legault and squeaked through starter Jacob Gervais-Chouinard to put the visitors on the board. The goal seemed to deflate the home side, as the momentum they had been building slipped away for the remainder of the first.

It returned in the second, however, in a period the Bulldogs impressively dominated. The first quality chance belonged to Nathan Beaulieu, the player named the team’s MVP for the 2012-13 season prior to the game. Beaulieu collected a Charles Hudon feed and very nearly split the Rochester defense, but in the end could only muster a weak shot on goal.

Next it was Louis Leblanc – a player certainly not receiving any end-of-year awards after a disappointing season – with a clear shorthanded breakaway. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the puck to settle, and wound up fanning on a shot attempt after putting a move on Matt Hackett.

A powerplay would allow the Bulldogs to draw even. Frederic St. Denis took a Greg Pateryn pass and skated in off the point, beating Hackett cleanly with a quick shot. And the team wouldn’t stop there, with glorious chances to go ahead, coming off the sticks of Beaulieu, Adam Ross, and Sebastian Collberg, all turned away by Hackett’s glove.

The saves seemed to spark the Americans, as a Beaulieu pinch left Rochester captain Matt Ellis completely alone in front of Gervais-Chouinard, who had a strong game in only his second professional start, easily sliding the puck past the fallen netminder and restoring the Amerk lead.

The ‘Dogs didn’t quit, battling hard to try to draw even in their 2012-13 swan song into its final period, but Hackett was repeatedly up to the challenge. An Alex Belzile shot met his glove. A nifty move by Frederic St. Denis saw his wraparound saved, with a Belzile rebound opportunity meeting the same fate. When the netminder wasn’t standing on his head, he was also benefiting from some less-than-opportunistic Bulldogs, as Sebastian Collberg – turning in a standout effort in only his second North American game – narrowly missed two rocket shot chances from the slot.

But try as they may, as has been the story many nights this season, the comeback effort fell short, with the Americans prevailing on the back of Hackett’s 29 stops. Phil Varone put it out of reach in the final minutes, alone in front at the end of a 2-on-1 rush, sliding a backhander between Gervais-Chouinard’s pads. An empty netter by Frederik Roy was all the scoring to be seen at Copps Coliseum until the Fall.

A disappointing result to cap a disappointing season for the Hamilton faithful, but the addition of many Hab prospects for the stretch run gives all some positives to bank on for the near future. One bright spot was the play of Collberg, who is expected to return to Sweden next year where he is under contract with Frolunda, but looks to have a promising career ahead of him. The Swede missed Saturday’s game as the club chose to not force him into a 3-in-3 situation coming off a concussion, but generated scoring chances on both Friday and Sunday night. “It was two weeks ago that my season was over and of course I wanted to play more. Easy decision for me to come here. I was in Montreal for a week with the doctors and practiced all of last week. It was good to have two games instead of none.”

On his concussion, Collberg assures that he is 100% and wouldn’t have played if he wasn’t. The adjustment to North America has looked natural on ice, but he does note some challenges in the different style of play. “The smaller rinks make it go a little quicker and it’s a tougher game out there. I’ve started getting used to it after two games, but everyone is stronger and bigger so I have to be stronger around the net. I’ll work on that back home.”

Collberg’s goal in joining the Bulldogs was simply to continue improving his game, as the Swede isn’t thinking of changing his mind as to where he’ll play next year, excited about a new coach in Frolunda and a mix of younger players.


IceCaps game report

Monsters Spook Bulldogs in a Battle of Brothers [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO:  Kyle Hagel | Sylvain Lefebvre  

HAMILTON, ON – There was a compelling storyline Friday night in Hamilton, with local son Marc Hagel in town with the visiting Lake Erie Monsters to face off against brother Kyle Hagel and the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, the 100+ friends and Hagel family members in attendance weren’t in for much of a game, as Lake Erie took it over quickly with a 4-0 advantage which they nursed to a 6-2 victory at the final horn.

Pugilist Kyle Hagel and brother Marc were one of two sets of brothers in Friday night's game (PHOTO: Dario Ayala , Gazette)
Pugilist Kyle Hagel and brother Marc – Hamilton natives – were one of two sets of brothers in Friday night’s game (PHOTO: Dario Ayala, Gazette)

The game started off on a sour note, as Joey Tenute ran Joey Hishon into the boards behind the goal just 13 seconds after the opening buzzer. Hishon lay on the ice for a long while, as Daniel Maggio dropped the gloves with Tenute, pummeling soundly before Jarred Tinordi stepped in to defend the game’s other Hamilton native. Five minute majors to Tenute and Maggio cancelled each other out, but it didn’t matter when seconds later a John Negrin pointshot squeaked through a crowd of bodies before beating starter Dustin Tokarski cleanly.

That first goal would open the floodgates for the Monsters, as defensive lapse after defensive lapse – notably coming from Joe Stejskal – ended up behind Tokarski. First a miscommunication and poor coverage between Stejskal and Peter Merth gave Luke Walker time and space alone in front of Tokarski and an easy tap-in. Then it was an open Andrew Agozzino taking a Tomas Vincour one-time pass and burying it into the empty side of the cage. Finally an individual effort by Paul Carey ended Tokarski’s night, as a pretty little move left the open half of the goal empty for his picking. The only thing the crowd had to cheer about in the first was when Marc Hagel was announced as collecting an assist on Carey’s tally.

A 4-0 Monsters lead did expand the brother factor in the game, as Jacob Gervais-Chouinard stepped in to relieve Tokarski, making his AHL debut. His brother, Joel Chouinard, is a Monsters’ defenseman who was playing in his ninth game of the season.

The second period saw little action, as Lake Erie sat back on their lead, and Hamilton couldn’t muster any offense until the final six minutes, when the team’s best chance came on an Olivier Archambault toe-drag in the slot which was stopped by Calvin Pickard.

Unfortunately, any momentum that may have been built by the home side was quashed just 24 seconds into the third when Agozzino batted a rebound past Gervais-Chouinard to put the visitors up five. They would add one more for good measure, when a Vincent Arsenault shot was popped up by Hamilton’s rookie netminder, and Dean Strong was first on the loose puck with only an empty net in front of him.

While the overall game was a disappointment for those in the crowd, the Hagel clan in attendance would get to see the other brother etch his name on the scoresheet as well. A solo effort by Kyle Hagel had him put a puck between a defender’s legs, skate around him, and fire a shot over a fallen Pickard, breaking the keeper’s shutout bid with his second tally – and first at home – on the season.

With just under five minutes to play, a Michael Bournival shot squeaked through Pickard to make the score 6-2, but it could be read as a mere footnote in the overall game story. One Danny Kristo offensive zone hooking penalty later, and the ugly outing was in the books.

No doubt it was a game to be forgotten for most – and this under the watchful eyes of the full Habs’ brass including Marc BergevinTrevor TimminsMartin LapointePatrice Brisebois, and Larry Carriere – but a night that won’t be forgotten for the Hagel brothers. “I had 70 tickets out, and Marc might have had a couple more, but those are just tickets we got for our family. There are probably more people we knew who got their own tickets,” said Kyle on a big homecoming for the pair. “[Marc] had a good performance. He looks like a really solid pro. I’m proud of him, and I can’t way to see how his career unfolds.”

Hagel being notably the resident enforcer on the Bulldogs’ roster, was there ever a thought of dropping the gloves with his brother? “He came up to me when we were down 4-0 and said, ‘Are you looking for a spark?’ Yeah! I am! And he just shakes his head at me. I don’t know. A lot of people have asked us that. Would it ever happen? Conceivably it could, but it’s not something we would plan. Maybe later down the road in our career if he was having a bad game and needed to prove himself to a coach to stay in the line-up, of course I’d do it for him.”  It is that giving attitude which made Hagel the Bulldogs’ nominee for AHL Man of the Year.