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Emotions On Display at Hamilton Bulldogs Practice [PHOTO GALLERY]

If you are a regular reader of All Habs Hockey Magazine, you know that we do things differently and you tell us that it’s one of the reasons you keep coming back. In addition to our comprehensive coverage of the Montreal Canadiens, we also commit to providing you the most in-depth coverage of prospects in the organization.  Being a Canadiens fan means you want to keep current on the progress of future stars too.

One of our Senior Writers, Dan Kramer, is in his second full season of providing you game-by-game reports for the Hamilton Bulldogs from the press box.  We are pleased to introduce to you Rabita, another member of All Habs team who will be providing you with images from Copps Coliseum.  Her experience in sports photography will tell you the story from Hamilton in pictures.

We have more changes in store for you that are just around the corner. We think that you’ll like them.

By Rabita, Photojournalist, All Habs Hockey Magazine

HAMILTON,ON. — I’m used to be on the field as a sidelines photographer. But I knew that this photo assignment was going to be different when the pucks slammed against the glass, quite startling when one is looking through a camera lens. And the speed. Being rink-side gave a whole new appreciation for the speed, even at this level. The guys are really fast which made it a challenge to capture them in motion sometimes.

(Photo by Rabita Naqvi | Rocket Sports Media)
(Photo by Rabita Naqvi | Rocket Sports Media)

The Bulldogs wasted no time getting warmed up and beginning their drills. The team worked hard all through the practice in preparation for Tuesday’s game against the Texas Stars. There was plenty of chatter on the ice with teammates encouraging each other. Players seemed to pair up reserving conversation with one partner. And the coaches showed their fun and joking side at times too.

At one point, the ‘communication’ became intense. Nick Tarnasky, playing the role of the veteran, felt that a rookie defenceman wasn’t taking things seriously enough. He and Darren Dietz exchanged rough language and eventually dropped the gloves. The minor dispute was settled quickly by the coaches and fellow teammates. Just the emotion of the game.

All in all, today was an incredible experience photographing the Bulldogs. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to capture the skills and emotions of these talented players.

I am pleased to join the All Habs team. I will be telling you the stories of Hamilton Bulldogs through pictures this season. I hope that you enjoy them. I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave me a note in the comment box.

 

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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

Captain St. Pierre Comes Through in Clutch for ‘Dogs [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Nathan Beaulieu | Martin St. Pierre

HAMILTON, ON – The 2013-14 Hamilton Bulldogs are proving weekly that the epitomize a “never say die” attitude. While their comeback efforts fell short a week ago, on this night they managed to complete the reversal over those same rival Toronto Marlies, erasing a 1-0 third period deficit in taking this season’s third Battle of Ontario by a 2-1 score in overtime.

St. Pierre may have scored the goals, but in the eyes of his coach and teammates, the fourth line centered by Joonas Nattinen was every bit as responsible for Hamilton's win. (PHOTO: PHOTO BERNARD BRAULT, LA PRESSE)
St. Pierre may have scored the goals, but in the eyes of his coach and teammates, the fourth line centered by Joonas Nattinen was every bit as responsible for Hamilton’s win. (PHOTO: PHOTO BERNARD BRAULT, LA PRESSE)

The Marlies were responsible for Hamilton’s only two regulation losses, and the early game looked like we’d be heading towards a third. Less than five minutes in, a Morgan Ellis defensive zone giveaway bounced out on to Josh Leivo‘s stick with only an empty cage in front of him, and he had no trouble putting the puck past Dustin Tokarski. While the ‘Dogs would put in a solid effort the rest of the first, their chances came largely on pointshots with little traffic in front of Drew MacIntyre, leading to a high shot total but not an overly difficult night for the former ‘Dog and current Marlie netminder.

On some nights, Hamilton’s effort in the first half of the second period might have been enough to draw even, but despite his side being dominated, the savvy veteran MacIntyre kept the Marlies ahead long enough for the team to wake up and balance play out for the final ten minutes of the middle stanza. In fact, the period’s most dangerous chance again came off Leivo’s stick, finding iron behind Tokarski.

But the Bulldogs would find a way to break through in the final frame. After failing to get bodies in the Toronto blue paint for most of the night, a Hamilton powerplay with under nine minutes to go saw the team do just that. A Magnus Nygren point shot bounced off the scrum at the top of the crease and back out on a tee for Martin St. Pierre who one-timed his first of the season to the back of the net to knot the score.

If it’s indiscipline that killed the ‘Dogs on many nights in this early season, it favoured them on this night. Another Marlies penalty shortly after the equalizer could have ended the game in regulation, but it was an overtime (very) high stick on Jarred Tinordi that would give the home team the chance they needed. The 4-on-3 advantage produced a similar set-up to the first Hamilton goal, with Nathan Beaulieu feeding Nygren along the point, and a rebound bouncing to captain St. Pierre once again, making no mistake in burying his second of the night and season.

“We don’t want to have to come back all the time. It’s hard. It’s not fun. But it shows a lot of character. And we’ve got guys who you don’t notice because they’re not on the scoresheet all the time, like Courtnall, but they were probably our best players tonight,” said Beaulieu after the game, a thought echoed by his head coach.

“We want better starts. But we had Nattinen’s line going real well tonight and I played the hell out of them. It gave us momentum all night long, and through two periods, we did everything but score goals,” added Lefebvre. The line of Joonas NattinenJustin Courtnall, and Steve Quailer started all three period, playing simple, physical, north south hockey, as they have done from the start of the season. While he may be the fourth line center on paper, Nattinen has been an extremely important role player throughout the first month of the year, utilizing his size to play a physical brand of hockey, winning key face-offs, and working hard on the penalty kill.

But while the fourth line contributed energy, the hero on the night was the squad’s captain. “It’s frustrating to go five games with no goals, but I’m (back at) 100%, and it’s good to get some goals and get going. I take a lot of pride (in being captain). It’s a challenge to me. It’s a young team that learned a lot from having a bad year last year, and the management expects me to take what I learned from Toews and Kane and those guys and apply it here,” summarized an obviously relieved St. Pierre.

The Bulldogs won’t have long to celebrate their comeback win, as they are right back at it Saturday night, home to the Abbotsford Heat and looking to extend the lead they captured Friday night.

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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

Bulldogs Penalty Kill Powers Team to Home Opener Win [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Sylvain Lefebvre | Patrick Holland | Magnus Nygren

HAMILTON, ON – If the expectations of this year’s Hamilton Bulldog team is to bring a more exciting brand of hockey to Copps Coliseum than the squad that finished in the American Hockey League’s basement last season, consider opening night a success. The Bulldogs took an aggressive style of play to the St. John’s IceCaps right from the start, skating to a 3-2 win on the strength of two shorthanded goals in the team’s season and home opener.

Greg Pateryn - named an alternate team captain earlier this week - scored the opening goal of the Hamilton Bulldogs' 2013-14 season. (PHOTO: Dan Hickling)
Greg Pateryn – named an alternate team captain earlier this week – scored the opening goal of the Hamilton Bulldogs’ 2013-14 season. (PHOTO: Dan Hickling)

The Bulldogs started their season on a strong note as, while killing a penalty, Mike Blunden and Greg Pateryn broke in on a 2-on-1. The former set one on a tee for the latter, who put his full weight into blasting one past veteran netminder Eddie Pasquale. But the IceCaps would battle back on another man advantage, when an Andrew Gordon point shot found its way through a maze of bodies and beat Dustin Tokarski cleanly.

Hamilton’s lead was restored early in the second. Fresh out of the box, Blunden again joined a rush of a very aggressive Bulldog penalty kill, receiving a feed from Joonas Nattinen and firing a wicked wrister just under the bar from the top of the face-off circle. Nattinen – starting the season on Hamilton’s fourth line – had a good hard-working game, engaging physically and generating offensive chances.

A ‘Dogs powerplay generated multiple chances for the home team to extend their lead, and a Magnus Nygren rocket beat Pasquale, but found post and stayed out. After a Joel Chouinard shot met the same fate, a gassed unit was left to defend against Ryan Schnell joining a counterattack out of the box, and defenseman Ben Chiarot was allowed to skate right in on goal to shelf a backhander over Tokarski’s shoulder.

Nygren had another chance to bag a goal in his North American regular season debut, when he charged the net out of the box, but his redirection of a Patrick Holland centering dish met Pasquale’s extended pad. It seemed Nygren barely left the ice in the second, playing eleven minutes attributed to strong performance, a Nathan McIver misconduct, and getting caught on a couple of long shifts.

Another shorthanded rush in the third period’s opening minutes saw Holland break in one-on-one. A slick move around the Ice Caps defender gave him an open shot on Pasquale, who only managed to get a piece of an off-speed snap that trickled into an empty cage.

The Bulldogs looked to be in good position to hold on to their advantage heading to a powerplay with just over six minutes to go, but it proved fruitless, and Mike Blunden was guilty of a lazy accidental hook at centre ice moments after its expiry. During the delayed call, Tokarski was forced to stretch out the left leg to rob a St. John’s skater on the doorstep, one of his 33 stops on the night.

Hamilton’s penalty killers would do the work from there, aggressive and on puck carriers throughout the night. Gabriel Dumont first killed significant time skating the puck around the neutral zone, and then Justin Courtnall picked off an Ice Caps’ pass, driving hard to the net and forcing Will O’Neill to take a hooking call. With the net empty for an extra attacker, St. John’s did buzz at 5-on-5, but Tokarski was again solid in preserving the opening night victory.

The Bulldogs return to action right away Saturday night, as they host the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins at Copps Coliseum.

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

Dustin Tokarski
Robert Mayer

Three Stars:

1. Mike Blunden
2. Patrick Holland
3. Eddie Pasquale
Hardest Working Bulldog: Greg Pateryn

Honourable mentions to Magnus Nygren, Dustin Tokarski, and Joonas Nattinen

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IceCaps game report

Veteran-laden Barons Too Much for Bulldogs to Handle [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Alex Belzile | Coach Sylvain Lefebvre | Yann Danis (OKC)

HAMILTON, ON – For the third night in a row, the Hamilton Bulldogs got behind the eight-ball early against a superior opponent and couldn’t muster enough of a comeback effort to get back in the game, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Oklahoma City Barons Sunday afternoon.

Patrick Holland was one of two Bulldog forwards unable to finish tonight's game. (PHOTO: Hamilton Spectator File Photo)
Patrick Holland was one of two Bulldog forwards unable to finish tonight’s game. (PHOTO: Hamilton Spectator File Photo)

It was a big night for one member of the Bulldogs’ squad, as Sherbrooke, Quebec native Jacob Gervais-Chouinard made his first start at the AHL level. The 21-year old was tested early and proved shaky, popping a Jonathan Cheechoo shot up in the air and being unable to track it in his own crease behind him before Philippe Cornet could pounce on it and tap it home. Moments later a centering pass was found in a scramble in front of the net by Mark Arcobello who also beat Gervais-Chouinard for a quick 2-0 lead for the visitors.

The young netminder would settle down – despite highly unorthodox rebound control – as Hamilton was outshot 11-1 halfway through the first. The shots trend continued into the second, but it would take until the Barons’ 30th shot – coming at almost exactly the midway mark of the second period – for them to next solve the ‘Dogs keeper. A powerplay had the Hamilton defense somehow leave Cheechoo all alone in front, allowing him to collect a pass off his backside, spin around, and beat an out of position Gervais-Chouinard. It marked the third time in as many nights that Hamilton fell behind 3-0.

A brief spark ignited when coach Sylvain Lefebvre reunited the team’s former top line of Alex Belzile – the team’s best forward in the game – Joey Tenute and Patrick Holland. The three instantly generated the second period’s best scoring chance, drawing a penalty on the sequence, but a dismal powerplay failed to produce a quality chance on goal.

Despite the likes of Jordan EberleTaylor HallRyan Nugent-Hopkins, Magnus Paajarvi, and Justin Schultz – all of whom played for the Barons during the lockout – being up in the NHL, the Barons present an experienced roster (Cheechoo, Ben EagerGarret Stafford, and more in addition to quality prospects Arcobello, Anton LanderToni Rajala, and Teemu Hartikainen) which was simply too much for the young Hamilton squad to handle. They would have to do little more than sit back and coast the rest of the way, with the home side managing only one other chance of note, when ex-Hab and Bulldog Yann Danis would stonewall Louis Leblanc standing all in front and taking a 3-on-1 pass perfectly from Petteri Nokelainen, one of the few big saves he was forced to make in earning his first shutout of the season.

The Barons would close out the scoring with a Toni Rajala centering pass that was inadvertently kicked into an empty cage by Nolekalinen, putting a cap on a slow but very one-sided affair.

With the team mathematically eliminated from the post-season, the bigger concern than the loss were injuries suffered by two key members of the Bulldogs. Neither Michael Bournival not Patrick Holland – two guys Montreal may well have added to their Black Aces list to keep skating into the playoffs – was unable to finish the game. Coach Sylvain Lefebvre confirmed it was a lower body injury for Bournival (seen post-game walking without crutches) and that both he and Holland would be evaluated tomorrow.

Belzile was recognized as the Bulldogs’ hardest worker on the night, but he failed to explain why the team got off to such slow starts all weekend long. “It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s the preparation. Or little details like trying to gain momentum quickly and to not lose it. Sometimes it’s just lucky bounces we didn’t get, but we need to keep pushing.” On his own performance and efforts to earn a new contract with the organization, the impressive AHL tryout explained, “Every game I need to be a little more intense on the ice. It’s one of my greatest tools, so I need to use it to bring something to the team. I hope I’ll be back, but I don’t want to think too far ahead. Game by game, I’ll bring my 100% to show I have my place here.”

Just three games remain in the 2013 calendar for the Hamilton Bulldogs, and after losing Steve Quailer to an injury Friday, they may be further undermanned if neither Holland nor Bournival can return next weekend. They will get some reinforcements, however, as Sebastian Collberg agreed to a tryout contract with the squad Sunday morning and will debut at home next Friday night.

 

 

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IceCaps game report

Heat Powerplay Sizzles in Revenge Win Over Bulldogs

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Jarred Tinordi | Gabriel Dumont | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – If the key to Hamilton’s victory over the Abbotsford Heat on Wednesday night was getting out to a quick start, someone must have changed the locks Friday.

Starting from goaltender Robert Mayer right on out, the Bulldogs – despite gaining reinforcements in the form of Gabriel Dumont and Jarred Tinordi – were sloppy, and the Heat capitalized to avenge their prior 5-3 loss with a 4-2 victory.

tinordihires
Tinordi’s return to Hamilton didn’t go according to plan, as three powerplay goals went off or through him. (PHOTO: Jason Kurylo)

Michael Bournival had the game’s first scoring chance right off the opening face-off, but was turned aside by netminder Danny Taylor. Heat forward Ben Walter was more opportunistic, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead at just the 1:04 mark.

Abbotsford would then extend their lead on the powerplay, when Jarred Tinordi got his stick on a Max Reinhart point shot – a mistake coach Sylvain Lefebvre most certainly would have let him know about – and it got through Mayer. It was a whirlwind day for Tinordi, being sent down from Montreal in the morning, but unfortunately the deflection would be only the start of his troubles on the night.

Hamilton clawed back to within one on a powerplay marker of their own, with Morgan Ellis ending a 34-game pointless streak, slapping a pass from Frederic St. Denis past Taylor. Ellis earned time on the second powerplay unit with Nathan Beaulieu in Montreal on a call-up.

The goal seemed to wake the ‘Dogs up, but back-to-back penalties taken by St. Denis gave the momentum right back to the Heat. After a first call, it wouldn’t take long for the second call to prove costly, with Sven Baertschi‘s tough angle shot bouncing off Tinordi’s skate at the side of the net and beating Mayer up high, restoring a two-goal advantage.

The second period would see the Bulldogs get back within one again, this time on a solo effort by Gabriel Dumont – also sent down from the Canadiens that very morning. Dumont’s first shot was blocked in front, but the grinder went hard to the net, collected his own rebound, and snapped it to the back of the goal.

That Dumont’s goal came from going hard to the net was no coincidence, as the hardnosed forward benefited from some strong role models during his time in Montreal. “I learned a lot of things. You watch guys play. Guys like Brandon Prust. Guys like Colby Armstrong. They’ve been around for a while. Kind of the same player as me too. Travis MoenRyan White you know. Look at these guys, see what they’re doing everyday. They have great work ethic. Learn from these guys and try to do the same thing here,” he summed up after the game.

Unfortunately for the home side, history would repeat itself. Any gains in momentum from Dumont’s marker were quickly erased when Mayer – who seemed to have a lack of focus throughout the game despite also making numerous highlight reel stops – mishandled a puck behind the net, forcing Greg Pateryn into a penalty call. And again the Abbotsford powerplay would make Hamilton pay, as Ben Street caught Mayer cheating sliding across the goal, slipping a shot along the ice through Tinordi’s legs – yes him again – and in shortside.

“It’s frustrating,” said Tinordi. “It happens. I didn’t see a shot coming, it went off my stick and in. One went off my skate. Obviously those goals were my fault, so I just try to tell Mayer we’ll get it back for him.”

Danny Taylor stood tall in the third stanza as Hamilton had its chances to reduce the Heat lead, notably an opportunity for Dumont that greatly resembled his earlier goal. A save on his first shot popped the puck up, and Dumont would show hunger for the puck, skating through the defensemen to bat it out of midair, but Taylor was ready with a second stop.

It would take a weird bounce to provide an exciting finish, as Alex Belzile couldn’t control a pass, but it would be accidentally put on net by Zach McKelvie and squeak through Taylor, some puck luck going the right away after Tinordi’s series of unfortunate events through the first two periods.

That was as close as the ‘Dogs would get, as despite buzzing in the offensive zone for the final minute with Mayer on the bench, the team couldn’t get much on goal in their attempt to force overtime. The playoffs seem like an unreachable target tonight, but a roster full of tryouts looking for job security for next season is back in action Saturday night hosting the Rochester Americans.

 

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IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Breeze by Heat with 5-3 Win [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Brady Vail | Alex Belzile | Joey Tenute

HAMILTON, ON – They say the first game home after a lengthy road trip is one of the toughest to win. But if Wednesday night was an indication, the Hamilton Bulldogs aren’t familiar with that expression.

After posting a 1-3-0 record on the road over the last two and a half weeks, the ‘Dogs returned to Copps Coliseum with a decisive victory, chilling the Abbotsford Heat by a 5-3 final score in a game they controlled for two periods but would ultimately have to survive a third period collapse. 

Bournival's 8th tied Patrick Holland for 2nd in goals among active 'Dogs this season (PHOTO: GETTY / RDS.CA)
Bournival’s 8th tied Patrick Holland for 2nd in goals among active ‘Dogs this season (PHOTO: GETTY / RDS.CA)

Hamilton got off to a good start with the game’s first quality scoring chance as Alex Belzile narrowly missed getting to the rebound of a Joey Tenute shot. Belzile was promoted to the Bulldogs’ top line with Tenute and Patrick Holland for the night – despite it being only the third AHL game of the tryout’s career – based on his production (a goal and two assists) in his two prior outings.

The Bulldogs would make good of their second opportunity however. Michael Bournival took a couple of strides off a Nathan Beaulieu pass and fired a hard wrister off the post and in on netminder Danny Taylor. With Gabriel Dumont in Montreal Bournival led the ‘Dogs in scoring coming into the game with 24 points in 56 contests, and the marker tied him with Patrick Holland for second on the team in goals with 8.

As rare as it has been for Hamilton to score first this season, on this night, they wouldn’t stop there. First Frederic St. Denis would one-time the rebound of a Philippe Lefebvre shot past a helpless Taylor. Brady Vail picked up his first professional point (in his third game) with an assist on the tally. Then just five minutes later, feel-good story Hamilton local Joey Tenute would collect a Belzile pass and fire a rifle top shelf.

The second period saw the Bulldogs add to their lead with a powerplay marker to make it 4-0. Nathan Beaulieu showed great agility in executing a quick spinorama at the point before feeding back to Patrick Holland. Holland would in turn send the puck cross-ice to Greg Pateryn whose slapshot found the back of the net for his 6th in just 27 games. Robert Mayer would close out the period with a number of quality stops as Abbotsford held a 27-16 shot advantage through 40 minutes, though those totals hardly reflected the balance of play.

Nothing has come easy for the boys from Steeltown North this season and this game would not be an exception. The Heat came out buzzing to start the final stanza and markers from Max Reinhart and Roman Horak quickly made it a two-goal affair. Hoping to settle his troops down, coach Sylvain Lefebvre wisely called a timeout.

And it seemed to work. Again the new top line went to work with Holland flashing skill to break in alone on goal, and while he was stepped, Tenute was Johnny on the spot for his second of the night, restoring a three-goal lead. Belzile registered his second helper of the game on the goal – his fifth point in just his third game – and was impressive throughout the night, regularly going hard to the Heat net.

Ben Street would reduce the Heat deficit to two, but that was as close as this one would come, as the Bulldogs pick up a hard-fought and well-deserved win despite what the shot clock might have one think. The win was made all the more impressive by the fact that no fewer than six players were making their Copps Coliseum debuts in the game.

“It’s a little weird for me, just cause I’ve never experienced anything like this,” explained Vail who – given his young age – will return to the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires in the Fall. “I’m here to experience what it’s like at the next level and learn from the pro guys; what it takes, the work ethic, off-ice stuff. All the little things really. Good to get [the first point] out of the way, and hope I get a few more.”

Belzile, playing his first year outside of Quebec and a little self-conscious about his English, is also looking at this as a learning opportunity. “[The AHL] is way faster [than the ECHL]. Just the intensity – you can’t compare them. You have to be smarter – know what you’re going to do with the puck before it comes. Those little details, and I hope [my adjustment] is going to continue the same way.”

 

Categories
IceCaps game report

Costly Penalties Sink Bulldogs against Griffins [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO:  Mike BlundenSylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – With fewer than 20 games to play in their season and the team still sitting in the Western Conference’s basement, every point is critical for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Moral victories are no longer good enough, and thus the squad could not take solace in hanging around for most of the game against a strong Grand Rapids Griffins Squad. In the end, a 4-1 defeat meant two points the home squad could not add to the bank on Sunday afternoon, and the margin for error becomes hopelessly smaller.

As has been typical of the team all season, the Bulldogs seemed unprepared to start tonight’s game, dominated in all zones through the first 20 minutes. An early penalty proved costly as – despite a number of outstanding stops by starter Robert Mayer – a rebound ended up in the slot and on the stick of a pinching Chad Billins who finished it off to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Coach Lefebvre was livid with his team's offensive zone penalties, two taken by Louis Leblanc (PHOTO: Graham Hughes, THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES)
Coach Lefebvre was livid with his team’s offensive zone penalties, two taken by Louis Leblanc (PHOTO: Graham Hughes, THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES)

Hamilton would take three more minor penalties in the first, a period in which they were outshot 16-6, but thanks to solid goaltending and a big 5-on-3 kill, managed to escape the period down just 1. For the second night in a row, the team’s best chances came off the stick of Patrick Holland – the ‘Dogs’ most creative forward offensively over the past few weeks – but he was unable to convert on either a Joey Tenute feed or his own individual rush.

The second period was a little more even, with few real scoring chances for either side. Steve Quailer had two whacks at a powerplay chance in front of Grand Rapids’s goaltender Thomas McCollum but could not be the former first round selection. The only other time Hamilton was menacing was on a Mike Blunden wraparound opportunity, but again the Griffins’ netminder was up to the task.

It seemed early in the third that the ‘Dogs might be able to escape with points by playing just a single period of decent hockey, as an early powerplay gave Nathan Beaulieu the room he needed to step up to the top of the face-off circle and fire a wrist shot that went off Mike Blunden‘s stick before finding the back of the net. Blunden was rewarded with a goal after regularly being one of the team’s top sparkplugs along with Holland and Joey Tenute.

But the momentum the team built was nullified when Philippe Lefebvre took a careless offensive zone hooking penalty – the team’s second such infraction of the game – and Riley Sheahean restored the Grand Rapids lead with the man advantage.

Blunden was at the centre of a bit of controversy near the third’s midway mark as he laid out Louis-Marc Aubry with a huge hit in the offensive zone. Aubry was slow to get up, and a melee ensued, but a powerplay which could have put the game out of reach proved fruitless for the Griffins.

“I thought I hit the guy clean, but I don’t really know, I’d have to look at it again. Definitely can’t take penalties in the offensive zone, but we gotta find a way to kill them,” summarized Blunden on a tougher night for the typically strong Hamilton penalty kill.

No matter how good their penalty kill, a team can’t take a seemingly endless string of penalties without it coming back to haunt them, and Louis Leblanc‘s second offensive zone infraction of the evening did just that, with Gustav Nyquist completing a nice passing play from a tough angle. Seconds later, Grand Rapids captain Jeff Hoggan skated into the zone and fired a hard slapshot on goal which also eluded Mayer, putting this one out of reach.

Understandably, coach Sylvain Lefebvre was short-tempered following a frustrating loss. “Stupid penalty was the reason we lost the game tonight. Robert Mayer gave us a chance to win, and we took stupid penalties after stupid penalties. You can’t win games if you end up in the box all night. Not against that team.”

The ‘Dogs will regroup by heading out on the road to visit St. John’s next weekend, and then Syracuse and Binghamton the following weekend. If any hope remains to salvage the season, they’ll need a perfect road trip before returning to Copps Coliseum heading into the season’s final month.