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IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Heat Up, Primed for Big Second Half [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Patrick Holland | Gabriel Dumont | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – In a first game previewing what a post-NHL CBA American Hockey League might look like, the Hamilton Bulldogs got the better of their rival Toronto Marlies winning a 2-1 decision on a luck late Gabriel Dumont goal.  The Bulldogs registered five of a possible six points on their three-game home-stand and have been playing competitive hockey, critical as the season reaches its midway point and the team has an enormous chasm to make up in the standings.

Robert Mayer made 23 stops in his third straight start for the 'Dogs. (PHOTO: Bradley Kalpin)
Robert Mayer made 23 stops in his third straight start for the ‘Dogs. (PHOTO: Bradley Kalpin)

Despite the NHL lockout being settled and the new CBA all-but-ratified, both squads dressed the majority of their AHL rosters, with the Marlies holding out just Matt Frattin and the injured Jake Gardiner, while all of Mike CommodoreFrederic St. DenisGabriel DumontBrendan Gallagher, and Louis Leblanc played for the Bulldogs despite their possible presence at Montreal’s camp next week.  The fact is that even if the five might get a short stint with the Canadiens, they are all likely to return to the Bulldogs’ line-up before long with 23 players (once P.K. Subban is signed) on NHL deals already.  Realistically, only Dumont perhaps has a chance of getting some time with the team at this stage due to an injury to Petteri Nokelainen, but his presence on the roster would mean no tryout for the team’s top prospect in Alex Galchenyuk.  In fact, though the Bulldogs still sit 30th overall in the American Hockey League, they are a team that should remain relatively intact while opposing squads are weakened, perhaps setting them up for a stretch run and shot at a post-season berth.

The game matched the Hamilton Bulldogs usual script early on, with the ‘Dogs leading the Marlies in shots through a scoreless first period but without much in the way of discernible scoring opportunities.  The Marlies got on the board first in the second with a Nazem Kadri goal off an offensive zone face-off, then looked to add to their lead and take over the game with a lengthy 5-on-3 powerplay.

But for the second time in as many games, the ‘Dogs came up with a huge kill, without so much as even giving up a quality scoring chance.  In the final minutes, Hamilton was on a powerplay of their own, and as it expired, Jason DeSantis made a great play at the blueline, jumping to keep a puck in the zone, and finding Mike Blunden in front. With a mess of players including a pinching Nathan Beaulieu crashing the net, Blunden found Patrick Holland at the other side of the crease and he buried the puck, scoring in the final second of a period for the second time in the past three games.

The third was a strange period of unsuccessful man advantages for both sides, and the teams remained tied entering the final minute.  It was then that Dumont centered the puck which took a couple of funny bounces of Marlie defenders before finally banking in off Jussi Rynnas for his team-leading 11th.

“He’s greasy like that. That’s typical of him (Dumont) for sure,” half-joked Holland about the winning goal after the game.  “We even tell him to shoot from there all the time cause he just has a knack for tricking goalies. It’s tough for a goalie to stop that I’m sure.”

The ‘Dogs held on for the rest of the final minute allowing the Dumont tally to stand up as the winner.  Dumont himself says he has no indication if or when he’ll get a call to pack a bag for Montreal, so for the time being, he and the rest of the Bulldogs can only look ahead to try to keep their streak going when they visit the Rochester Americans this Friday night.

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IceCaps game report

Hamilton Drops Heartbreaker in Shootout (with post-game audio)

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Robert Mayer | Brendan Gallagher & Frederic St. Denis | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – It was another slow start for the Hamilton Bulldogs, with a trademark first period of stymied scoring chances and an unfortunate goal against, but for the second time in as many nights, the young squad showed resiliency, battling back and deserving a better fate than the 3-2 shootout decision they would end up dropping.

Brendan Gallagher played a strong game, registering a goal and assist, but it wasn't enough. (PHOTO: Peter McCabe , Postmedia News)
Brendan Gallagher played a strong game, registering a goal and assist, but it wasn’t enough. (PHOTO: Peter McCabe , Postmedia News)

An early Mike Blunden offensive zone turnover led to an odd-man Monsters rush on which a shot snuck through Robert Mayer, and it seemed to awaken Lake Erie who at one point was being outshot 12-6.  The Monsters dominated much of the rest of the period, but Hamilton battled back in the second, with all of the top 3 lines contributing offensive chances.

Ultimately it was a Brendan Gallagher and Patrick Holland 2-on-1 that led to the tying goal in the middle frame, with Gallagher taking a pass from Mayer – getting his second consecutive start – and opting to keep the puck, beating netminder Calvin Pickard with a quick and hard shot.  Gallagher’s 10th of the season tied him for the team lead with red hot Gabriel Dumont, who was also frequently buzzing in the offensive zone but could not extend his home point streak.

A critical moment of the game came midway through the third when penalty trouble left the ‘Dogs to kill off a 3-on-5, but thanks to some strong work from the unit of Mike BlundenJarred Tinordi, and Frederic St. Denis, and a few key Mayer saves, the game remained tied.  That set the stage for another Brendan Gallagher-led 2-on-1, with the diminutive winger this time dishing to a pinching St. Denis to net his third of the season and give the home team their first lead of the night.

In a season of a number of disappointments for the Bulldogs, the play of Mayer – who most had locked in as a clear #2 behind Cedrick Desjardins but who has been challenging hard for playing time – has been perhaps the biggest bright spot.  The ‘Dogs found themselves shorthanded for the game’s final two minutes, and Mayer made perhaps his best stop of the night from a splits position with 8 seconds to play.  Yet, in a moment of heartbreak, it wouldn’t be enough, as off the ensuing face-off, Lake Erie crashed the net and the puck trickled by a helpless ‘Dogs goaltender, sending the contest to overtime.

In the extra frame, a Lake Erie double minor with 3:38 to play meant the ‘Dogs’ struggling powerplay was given a golden chance to end things.  But the team’s woes with an extra skater continued, unable to generate much in the ways of quality scoring chances, and moving very little in the offensive zone, making it easy for the Monsters to contain them to the outside.

The game thus proceeded to a shootout, and despite the team leading with 4 seconds to play and having a three-and-a-half minute powerplay in overtime, it ended in heartbreak.  Mark Olver ended a back-and-forth battle, one of 2 Monsters to beat Mayer in the decider, and Hamilton had to settle for collecting 3 of a possible 4 points on the weekend as they try to climb out of the AHL’s cellar.

The Bulldogs won’t have to dwell on this loss for long, as they are next in action Tuesday night at home against the Toronto Marlies.  Join me for live Tweets (@DanKramerHabs) from Copps Coliseum, and check back in the game review section of AllHabs.net for post-game reports and audio.

(Feature photo courtesy of HamiltonBulldogs.com)

 

Categories
IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Snap Drought, Top Icehogs (with post-game audio)

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO:  Gabriel Dumont | Patrick Holland and Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – The Hamilton Bulldogs hadn’t scored in three consecutive games coming into tonight’s tilt with the Rockford Icehogs, and given Rockford’s far superior record, expectations were low.  So when the ‘Dogs fell behind 1-0 less than two minutes into the first period, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was the same old script repeating itself.

But on this night, the Bulldogs had some bite, finally snapping their drought on a controversial Patrick Holland marker.  Holland deflected a Gabriel Dumont shot past Alec Richards, and though replay seemed to indicate the buzzer had sounded before the puck crossed the line, the goal stood, evening the score through 20 minutes.

Though they were outshot, Hamilton generated a number of quality chances in the first period, likely more than they had in their entire previous outing against the Toronto Marlies.  Thus there was reason to be optimistic, and the team built a lead on a rare powerplay marker with Dumont tipping in a Frederic St. Denis point  blast.

After Robert Mayer made a number of key quick reflex saves (35 total stops on the night) to keep Rockford from adding a second marker of their own, Olivier Fortier found a loose puck and open side of the net staring up at him off a Philipps Lefebvre centering play and buried his first of the season.  That insurance marker was all the team needed, as Hamilton snapped a 3-game losing streak, posting just their second win in their last 10 outings.  Dumont’s goal and assist make him easily the hottest ‘Dog offensively, particularly at home with the team’s previous game at Copps Coliseum being Dumont’s career night of three goals and five points.

Newest ‘Dog Jason DeSantis made his team debut, playing on a pairing with Jarred Tinordi, and was solid, logging big minutes in all situations.  Hamilton is back in action tomorrow night at home again as they take on Lake Erie.  Be sure to tune into Abe Hefter’s Locker Room show on Montreal’s CJAD 800 AM radio from 6 PM to 7 PM, as I’ll join him to tee up the game at 6:45 PM.

(feature photo courtesy of HamiltonBulldogs.com)