BULLDOGS STUNG BY VILMANIS IN SARINA OT LOSS
SARNIA, ONTARIO. Opening December with a weekend back-to-back the Brantford Bulldogs arrived at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia for their only visit of the season to take on the Sting.
The Bulldogs started quickly getting to the power-play inside the first minute and quickly peppered a trio of shots to Karsen Chartier’s goal. The Sting quickly changed the momentum of the game and forced Bulldogs starting goaltender David Egorov to be the story denying 13 Sarnia shots in the opening frame. Egorov’s finest came with a little help from his post as Sandis Vilmanis worked his way down the middle of the ice on a steal and attacked the front of the Bulldogs net. Shifting to his backhand, Vilmanis looked to go upstairs, Egorov got enough of the puck with his glove to send it off the post and then kick bounce in his crease aside with his toe to keep the game scoreless. The Sting managed to crack Egorov before the period was out, immediately following a successful penalty kill for the Bulldogs, Easton Wainwright was able to throw the puck through a screened Egorov to get the Sting the 1-0 advantage they would take to the locker room after 20 minutes.
The middle was much better for the Bulldogs, turning the offensive attacking time in their favour, but puck luck didn’t quite turn. An early period tip from captain Lawson Sherk of a point shot died out in the crease, while shortly after a shot from Ben Bujold dented the left post and shot across the crease where Nick Lardis dented the right post staying out of the net. The Bulldogs’ pressure paid off at last at 5:30, with a power-play nearly expiring, as Jake O’Brien & Marek Vanacker worked the puck to the left wing side for Lawson Sherk who attacked the Sarnia zone with speed. Breaking down through the left circle, Sherk let loose a bullet over the shoulder of Chartier who had just pulled off his post to tie the game 1-1 on the captain’s 4th of the season. David Egorov was called upon quickly after as Carson Hall stole aside a D-to-D pass in the Brantford zone and attacked the front of the Bulldogs net. Egorov hit the splits and denied the break-in chance to keep the game knotted 1-1. After a little bit of an offensive zone scramble saw Patrick Thomas having to cover back defensively, Jacob LeBlanc fired a pass through neutral ice that found Marko Sikic in behind the Bulldogs defense to score his 7th of the season and give the hosts back a 2-1 lead at 12:21. Before the frame was out the Bulldogs found themselves with another golden opportunity as Cole Brown starred down an open net on the right side only to have the puck come off the toe of his stick and fire back through the legs of Chartier and out the other side, with the Sting retaining the 2-1 lead through 40 minutes.
The Bulldogs looked to be a different team in the third period, pressing the Sting for quality opportunities and it paid off. At 5:27, Nick Lardis found Patrick Thomas low on the right wing side where he delivered a pass back to Cedricsson Okitundu at the left point to hammer home his 1st of the season, tying the game 2-2. The Bulldogs pulled ahead for the first time on the night as Lucas Moore hit Patrick Thomas at the Sarnia blueline on the left wing side, Thomas popped the puck to Ben Bujold who carried through the left circle and beat Chartier five-hole for his 6th of the season giving the Dogs a 3-2 lead at 15:21. The Sting wouldn’t go quietly on home ice and responded late. At 18:45, a point shot from Kai Schwindt was bodied down by David Egorov but landed for Andrew LeBlanc who slammed home his 7th of the season to tie the game 3-3 and force overtime. In the extra frame, Jacob LeBlanc sprung Sandis Vilmanis on a breakaway at :44 where he bested David Egorov to give the Sting a 4-3 overtime win.
With the single point, the Bulldogs end the night in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, and take the season series with Sarnia having captured 3 of 4 points with a 1-0-1-0 record. The Brantford Bulldogs close the weekend with a 4:00pm matinee start hosting the Oshawa Generals for the first time since home opener at Brantford Civic Centre on Saturday afternoon.