By Dale Lamontagne, Hamilton Bulldogs Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report
HAMILTON ON, — The Hamilton Bulldogs hosted QEW rivals, the Toronto Marlies, at a packed FirstOntario Centre for First Responders Night, and the debut of highly touted Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect William Nylander.
It was a really exciting night in Hamilton because for the first time this season (school day game excluded) the Bulldogs played in front of a jammed, highly energetic, crowd of 10,451, and a sold out lower-bowl.
The hype leading into the game was mainly because of the debut for Swedish forward Nylander. But the other exciting part was the Bulldogs dedicated the night to Hamilton’s first responders and that was special.
Friday’s Bulldogs game concluded their season-long seven game homestand having won the past two games last weekend against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Hamilton entered the game with a 18-17-6 record with 42 points and third in the North Division.
However, despite the Marlies tough start to the first half of the 2014-15 AHL season, Toronto entered the contest with 40 points, two behind the Bulldogs and were 7-0-3 in their last ten games.
But tonight, the Bulldogs extended their winning streak to three games adding two more points for a total of 44, four points more than the Marlies.
The first two periods of play at FirstOntario were scoreless. Yes, you read that right. Both teams were getting a ton of rubber on net, but goaltenders Mike Condon for the Bulldogs and Antoine Bibeau for the Marlies were making a ton of saves.
In the first period, Ryan Rupert took the lone penalty for the Marlies and the Bulldogs got their first power-play opportunity of the game. But they did not convert.
In the middle frame, the Marlies took three penalties and the Bulldogs two, but there still was no score after forty minutes of play in front of a very loud crowd.
The third and final period of the game was where we saw a lot more action and scoring.
Bulldogs captain Gabriel Dumont opened the scoring just 28 seconds into the third period after he received the puck in the neutral zone, flying down the wing to snipe it by Bibeau.
The Bulldogs extended their lead on the power-play just a couple minutes after the Dumont goal, with Daniel Carr putting the puck by Bibeau on a two-on-one rush.
Moments after the the Carr goal, Greg Pateryn headed off to the dressing room after getting crunched into the end boards. Something caught him in the face as there was some blood on the ice. Pateryn returned to the game after getting some repairs done.
With 1:49 to go, Dumont scored his second of the game with an empty netter. The Bulldogs held on to take the 3-0 shutout win over the Marlies on Friday night.
The two teams are back at it tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto.