ROMANI’S 40TH HALTS BULLDOGS COMEBACK IN 6-4 DEFEAT
BRANTFORD, ONTARIO. The Bulldogs continued their weekend in another top of the Eastern Conference battle against the North Bay Battalion. Saturday’s matchup between the #1 & #3 teams in the Eastern Conference marked the 3rd out of 4 meetings for the 2023-24 season.
The Bulldogs went into today’s match-up holding a 2-point lead over the Battalion and single point lead in the Eastern Conference. The Bulldogs were without defenseman Owen Protz due to a one game suspension while the Battalion also entered minus a key component to their lineup with Ty Nelson missing his 3rd straight game with injury. The Battalion jumped on the scoreboard early at 4:45 as Bronson Ride worked the puck along the Brantford blueline to Jacob LeBlanc who is able to drive a shot on net where it deflected off Justin Ertel, David Egorov & Daniel Chen with Ertel securing his 17th of the season to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. The Battalion doubled their lead at 12:14, with Ethan Procyszyn on a 3-on-1 passing to Brice Cooke, scoring a one timer for his 9th of the season putting North Bay up 2-0. The Bulldogs cut into the Battalion’s lead at 18:35 with Jake O’Brien sending the puck around back of Dom DiVincentiis’ net to Marek Vanacker who set Lawson Sherk on a tee to score his 8th of the season & 3rd in the last 2 games. The Bulldogs tied up the game before the period was out, at 19:10, Calvin Crombie secures his 12th of the season with a right circle drive off a Noah Nelson set up to send the game to the intermission tied 2-2.
The middle frame was very similar to the first with the Battalion opening the period with a pair to race out to a 4-2 lead. First, at 5:51, the Battalion regained the lead as Dalyn Wakely is able to set up Anthony Romani off the left wing to score his 39th of the season and take a 3-2 lead. Zakary Lavoie earned a chance short-handed on a breakaway which Sandis Vilmanis raced back to break up. In sequence with the play moving the opposite direction Ethan Procyszyn set Brice Cooke who turned to the left wing for Sandis Vilmanis who started the play on the backcheck and finished it with his 17th of the season, squeazing a wrist shot between Egorov and the post doubling the visitor’s lead once more. The Bulldogs pulled the momentum back with back to back penalties against the Battalion giving the hosts 1:53 of 5-on-3 time. At 14:20, the Bulldogs took full advantage, cutting back into the Battalion. Tomáš Hamara moved the puck to the top of the formation to Patrick Thomas who set Zakary Lavoie in his wheelhouse for a one-timer to score his 19th of the season making it a 4-3 lead. At 17:14 the Bulldogs knotted the game up the game once more, short-handed on a 2-on-1 Ben Bujold has Lawson Sherk with him but Bujold selected shot from the left circle and put a dart into the top corner, scoring his 11th of the season, once again sending the game to the locker room tied, this time 4-4 after 40 entertaining minutes.
A bit of a hold your breath moment to start the final frame for the Bulldogs as Jake O’Brien headed down the tunnel after receiving a hit from Jacob Therrien but the star rookie would quickly return to the bench. The Battalion regained the lead for the 3rd time in the game with Anthony Romani scoring his, milestone, 40th of the season and 2nd of the game at 5:29 with Owen Van Steensel and Dalyn Wakely getting the assists with another triangle passing play between the Battalion top line after doing an impressive job to keep the play onside. The Bulldogs put an impressive push on in the dying moments with tremendous puck control and pressure, with opportunities for all of Vanacker, Lavoie, Thomas, Hamara but were unable to crack DiVincentiis for an equalizer before Owen Van Steensel could ice the game at 19:01 into the empty net, giving the Battalion a 6-4 victory.
The Bulldogs are back in action and wrap up there 3-in-3 weekend on the road tomorrow, February 4th, against the Oshawa Generals with puck drop at 6:05pm at the Tribute Communities Centre.