By Dale Lamontagne, Hamilton Bulldogs Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report
HAMILTON, ON — The Hamilton Bulldogs entered Saturday’s contest on a two-game losing streak and were hoping to snap the skid, but that was not the case. The Bulldogs dropped their third consecutive game to the Utica Comets by a score of 3-2 at the FirstOntario Centre.
The first period had a nice pace to it with barely any stoppages and just pure hard hitting hockey. However, the first period saw the Utica Comets strike first.
Only nine or so minutes into the first period Sven Baertschi made a nice pass to Cal O’Reilly who scored the first goal of the game for the Comets.
The rest of the period saw some exciting hockey, but Hamilton did not score a goal to send the game tied into the first intermission.
But the good news for the Bulldogs is, they would get a quick equalizer just seconds into the second period.
Just 18-seconds into the second frame, Bulldogs forward TJ Hensick scored on a 2-on-1 feed thanks to a pass from Eric Tangradi. This was Hensick’s 16th goal of the season.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 2-1 lead after Sven Andrighetto made a nice pass from behind the net to Charles Hudon who slapped the puck in past Comets netminder Joacim Eriksson from the slot.
The second period saw the Comets respond and tied the game. Will Acton shot the puck over Condon’s shoulder after receiving a pass from Baertschi on a quick offensive rush.
The game remain tied 2-2 after forty minutes of play.
The third and final period of the game saw the Comets take the lead with Alex Friesen scoring his seventh marker of the season. Friesen shot the puck at Mike Condon, but it squeezed through Condon’s five-hole just passing the red line.
The final few minutes in the third were intense as the Bulldogs needed to score a goal to force overtime, but they were unsuccessful doing so. Comets took game by a score of 3-2.
By Dale Lamontagne, Hamilton Bulldogs Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report
HAMILTON, ONT — The Hamilton Bulldogs played host to the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night, in their first game of a three-game set this weekend at FirstOntario Centre. The Comets, who sit in first place in the North Division entered the game with A 22-7-5 record, good enough for 49 points. The Bulldogs, who are third in the North, entered the game with a 15-14-6 record, and have one win in their past five games.
But tonight, the Bulldogs walked away with the win by defeating the Comets by a score of 3-0 on Friday night at the Dog Pound!
The first period of play would see the Bulldogs take a 1-0 lead, thanks to Nick Sorkin on the power-play, which came towards the end of the opening frame. There wasn’t much action in the period, other than the lone Bulldogs goal. But a little after the mid-way mark in the first, Darren Dietz was hit from behind by a Utica player and was down for several seconds before getting back up with help from the trainers.
The second period would see the Bulldogs score a goal from Daniel Carr, but it would be waved off immediately with 1:25 left in the middle frame. The goal would not count and the ‘Dogs would still have a 1-0 lead after forty minutes of play.
But midway through the period, another scary incident would take place, this time involving defenceman Jarred Tinordi. Tinordi and Andrey Pedan were involved in a staged fight, and Tinordi took a heavy punch to the face area and immediately fell to the ice and was down for a over a minute. Once he got up, with help from teammates, trainers and the officials, there was a ton of blood on the ice. Tinordi went straight to the dressing room and did not return to the game. Head coach Sylvain Lefebvre provided an update after the game and said Tinordi will be re-evaluated on Saturday and will need some dental work done.
If you didn’t see the fight yet, you can watch below (Warning, it may be disturbing.)
Finally, the third period saw a little more action as the Bulldogs scored two more goals to take the game by a score of 3-0. Maxime Macenauer scored the second goal of the game for the ‘Dogs, extending their lead to 2-0 after roofing it past Eriksson. The Bulldogs then scored an empty net goal, securing the win with the goal coming from Jacob de la Rose, who now has four on the season.
With the win, Mike Condon skated away with his first AHL shutout stopping all 27 shots faced.
The Bulldogs are back in action tomorrow as they play host to Lake Erie Monsters, with puck drop expected shortly after 7:00 p.m.
HAMILTON, ON – The Hamilton Bulldogs may have had their winning streak snapped last weekend, but they remained hot, posting a 2-1-0 record over an always-difficult three games in three nights stretch.
With a 19-15-4 record on the season, they currently sit 7th in the AHL’s Western Conference, and the 7-1-1 record they’ve put up in their past nine games has earned them some separation from the pack of teams lying just below the playoff cut-off (though those clubs do all hold games in hand).
Sunday’s win over the Iowa Wild marked the season’s halfway point for the team, and with that a measurable improvement over where they were last season at this time, with eleven more points in the standings.
Every week, we’ll look at three players who have impressed or are moving up in the depth charts, as well as three players struggling with their games at this junction.
– Sven Andrighetto: The Swiss rookie’s stats have been modest since returning from injury in mid-December (one goal and six points in eleven games), but on a team starved for offensive threats, the 20-year old has become a primary catalyst. Nathan Beaulieu may have scored the game-winner on Sunday, but the play was truly all Andrighetto, as he craftily weaved his way through the offensive zone before releasing a howitzer from the point. Admittedly, Beaulieu’s rebound goal was still from a tough angle requiring an accurate shot to finish the play off, but it was certainly never there for him without Andrighetto’s magic. The former Rouyn-Noranda Huskie finished the game with three shots, but was a constant presence in the attacking zone, just as he had been the night prior despite finishing that game with no points and a -2 rating. Despite his small stature at 5’9”, if the Canadiens are looking for a scoring winger to call up, it should be Andrighetto’s turn to make his NHL debut.
– Gabriel Dumont: Another forward who has elevated his game of late is one well known to Montreal Canadiens fans. A second player likely held back by his height limitations (5’10”) with the number of undersized forwards already in Montreal, Dumont and linemate Mike Blunden have become a heart-and-soul pair for the ‘Dogs, being used in starring roles in all game situations. After surprising point totals last season, Dumont started this year slowly, but has picked up his production with four goals and two assists in his past seven games – including a highlight reel marker to open the scoring on Sunday. Unlike Andrighetto – a more one-dimensional offensive winger – Dumont is a three zone player, and as important as his goal was, the team drew even more inspiration from a big third period shot block while killing a penalty in a one-goal match. Dumont retreated to the dressing room in considerable pain, but limped his way back to the bench minutes later, despite the fact that he wasn’t going to play another shift on the night. If the Habs are looking to fill a fourth line role from down in Hamilton, Dumont should be the one making the trip.
– Nathan Beaulieu: For a player who knows he’s never going to be a shutdown defenseman in the National Hockey League, Beaulieu’s early season output was mildly concerning. Beaulieu boasts incredible skating ability and off-the-charts raw talent. He is capable of taking over a hockey game, which we saw frequently in Hamilton towards the end of last season. This year, his intensity and focus have waned at times, but if the last five games are any indication, he seems to be putting things together. Taken away from usual partner Greg Pateryn – the Dogs’ number one d-man and a player with offensive ability of his own – to be paired with the more defensive Morgan Ellis has contributed to Beaulieu opening his game up. The product of this is points in four of the last five games (two goals and three assists), with a tougher outing and minus three rating in Saturday’s loss to Rochester. These are the kind of inconsistencies you have to live with as a trade-off for a player like Beaulieu, and as long as he can keep being good four nights out of five the rest of the way, he’ll be close to NHL-ready by season’s end.
IN A RUT
– Patrick Holland: I’ve made it no secret that I’m a fan of Holland’s game, but his 2013-14 campaign hasn’t built off the successes he enjoyed late last season. Despite playing with skilled offensive linemates Martin St. Pierre and Sven Andrighetto regularly, Holland has managed only one goal and four assists in 16 games since the start of December. He has lost the spot he frequently patrolled at the point on the top powerplay to a combination of Christian Thomas, Martin St Pierre, and even Mike Blunden at one point Sunday (that is, when the ‘Dogs despite to split Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn), despite being on a similar point-per-game pace to his rookie year. To Holland’s credit, he has rounded out his game well. As witnessed during his brief stint with the Canadiens, he is smart in his own end and a willing candidate to get in the lanes and block shots. It’s certainly not unthinkable for him to develop into an Adam Hall-type down the road, but he’ll have to start producing in order to earn another ticket back to Montreal.
– Darren Dietz: Like Jarred Tinordi, Dietz had a strong training camp in Montreal, only to see things fall apart early on in the regular season. For Tinordi, his play began to go south once confronted with tougher competition on a nightly basis, while it was an injury that derailed a good start to the year for Dietz. Tinordi is gradually finding his groove on Hamilton’s top D pairing, but Dietz has lost his battle for a top four position to Morgan Ellis, finding himself instead on a third pair, most frequently with Joel Chouinard. A threat from the point in juniors – he led all Canadian Hockey League defensemen with 24 goals last year – Dietz is still seeking his first marker at the professional level, having recorded just four assists in 22 games, and having his powerplay minutes cut. No reason to panic over a twenty-year old pro rookie, but Dietz’s path to the NHL seems a little longer than those who watched him in exhibition play might have guessed.
– Robert Mayer: Goaltending has been likely the biggest reason for Hamilton’s success of late, meaning it’s no coincidence that Mayer was in Europe on loan for the Spengler Cup during a big portion of it. After nearly wrestling away the starting job from veteran Cedric Desjardins last season, Mayer was given every opportunity to challenge Dustin Tokarski for ice time by coach Sylvain Lefebvre early on this year. Mayer’s play has been wildly inconsistent, and while there was hope that a brilliant performance in the Spengler Cup final that led his club to victory might give him renewed confidence, the 24-year old’s return to Copps Coliseum marked the end of a six-game win streak for the ‘Dogs, while seeing his save percentage on the season dip below .900. It’s not to say the loss to Rochester was Mayer’s fault, but the significant separation between he and Tokarski (who has allowed only seven goals total while winning his past six starts) is becoming more and more evident. It certainly makes one question yet another of Marc Bergevin’s moves this past summer, being to give Mayer a two-year deal while only signing Tokarski for one (though perhaps that was the netminder’s own preference). Easy to repair the mistake of signing a mediocre AHL netminder of course, but still an odd assessment of player talent.
The Bulldogs will allow some other clubs to play out games in hand this weekend, as they have only a single opponent. Saturday, the Utica Comets visit Hamilton in a game the ‘Dogs can’t afford to lose if they believe themselves to be in serious contention for a playoff position, as the Comets currently sit a distant 15th place in the Western Conference. Tickets are available at http://www.hamiltonbulldogs.com/
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.
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 Beaulieu, Jarred 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.