BULLDOGS KNOCK OFF NIAGARA FOR 20TH STRAIGHT MEETING 6-3
ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO. The Brantford Bulldogs opened another 3-in-4 weekend on Thursday night at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines visiting the Niagara IceDogs for the second meeting of the season between the teams. The Bulldogs entered the contest looking for their 20th straight victory over the IceDogs dating back to the 2019-20 season.
The opening period was goal filled with the Bulldogs jumping on IceDogs netminder Owen Flores early. Just 1:47 into the game, Marek Vanacker & Cole Brown combined to get the puck into the left circle for Florian Xhekaj. From the bottom of the circle, Xhekaj wristed the puck past Flores for his 11th of the season giving the Bulldogs the early 1-0 lead. A little over a minute later, Daniel Chen launched Ben Bujold ahead on the left wing side creating a 2-on-1 with Nick Lardis. Bujold landed a perfect pass to Lardis’ tape where the Bulldogs sniper snapped home his team leading 15th of the season putting the Bulldogs up 2-0 at 2:54. The offensive wave continued at 8:08 with Tomas Hamara playing the puck low to Jake O’Brien on the left side, where the rookie fired a shot on Flores, the puck bounced through the Niagara netminder and rolled out the other side with Noah Nelson being the only player to find it and record his 1st of the season to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. With 3 goals on 5 shots, the Bulldogs chased IceDogs netminder Owen Flores, with Marcus Vandenberg stepping in to relieve his battery mate. The IceDogs fed off the goalie change with Ryan Roobroeck recording his 7th of the season at 10:05, followed by Ryan Vannetten scoring his 1st of the season at 18:00 to pull the IceDogs to within one. The Bulldogs kept the offensive press and bubbled the lead back to two at 18:52, after Noah Nelson batted the puck along the front of the net, Jake O’Brien weaved magic to control it from his skates and whip a perfect backhand pass to Lawson Sherk who hammered his 3rd of the season past Vandenberg to send the Bulldogs to the intermission with a 4-2 lead.
The middle frame was much quieter than was the opening, just one goal in the period went the way of the Niagara IceDogs. While on the power-play at 5:17, Urban Podrekar’s point shot hit the back glass, appearing to deflect off Gavin Bryant’s high stick before crossing the goal line. Upon review the officials determined the puck wasn’t touched by Bryant giving Podrekar his 1st on a strange play. The Bulldogs nearly responded late in the period on a couple occasions with Nick Lardis just missing over the top of the net and Marcus Vandenberg making a tremendous save on Noah Nelson’s net front tip to send the game to the locker room with the Bulldogs still leading by a 4-3 margin.
It was an immediate momentum swing to open the third period, with the Bulldogs coming out on the front foot. Noah Roberts launched Marek Vanacker ahead on the right wing who tapped a pass middle to a streaking Cole Brown. Brown ducked his shoulder and faked to his backhand turning the puck to his forehand and tucking the puck past Marcus Vandenberg for his 4th of the season giving the Bulldogs a 5-3 lead. The offense wasn’t done, at 7:37, Lucas Moore fed the puck forward to Nick Lardis who left it back for Ben Bujold in the right circle. Bujold navigated middle, turning through the left circle and attacking the net where he tossed past Vandenberg for his 3rd of the season giving the Bulldogs a 6-3 lead. With Matteo Drobac making 26 saves and 12 different Bulldogs hitting the scoresheet, 6 with two points each, the Bulldogs earned their 20th straight victory over the Niagara IceDogs by a 6-3 final.
The Brantford Bulldogs continue their 3-in-4 weekend, returning to the Brantford Civic Centre on Friday, November 24th to play host to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the only time this season with puck drop at 7:00pm.