THREE THOMAS ASSISTS HELP BULLDOGS EARN 5TH POINT OF WEEKEND
Wrapping up a 3-in-3 with a trip to Peterborough, the Brantford Bulldogs entered Sunday afternoon looking for a weekend sweep. Coming off a 5-3 victory over Niagara on Friday night & 4-0 victory over Sudbury on Saturday, Matteo Drobac earned his 3rd start of the weekend while Joshua Avery was called up for his first OHL game in his hometown.
The Bulldogs started fast, just 2:11 into the opening period, Cole Brown fired a shot through a crowd infront that Liam Sztuska turned aside, Luca Testa had the first follow up and the puck fell to Florian Xhekaj who jammed it into the net for his 7th of the season giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Cole Brown continued a strong run of play with a pair of left circle opportunities that Sztuska was forced to glove down to keep the Bulldogs from bubbling the lead. With the Petes on the power-play at 12:55, Tommy Purdeller’s shot to the slot was deflected by Sam McCue giving Matteo Drobac no chance and tying the game 1-1. Drobac bounced right back with Owen Back dancing through the slot, turning to his backhand, the Bulldogs goaltender made a tremendous splitting save going left to right to keep the game tied through 20 minutes.
The middle frame featured a wild momentum swing, starting with the Bulldogs potting a pair just 10-seconds apart. At 0:23, Patrick Thomas beat a pair of Petes defenders to the puck in the right corner, centering for Nick Lardis who snapped his 11th of the season to put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1. Off the ensuing faceoff, Thomas stole the puck from a Petes defender, dropping off for Ben Bujold who returned it to Thomas and found Nick Lardis all alone in the slot to fire his 12th past Liam Sztuska and give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead just 33-seconds into the second period. Missing Lawson Sherk entering the game, the Bulldogslost Jorian Donovan during the period and the wear and tear of the 3-in-3 began to pile up. The Petes went on an offensive run, collecting three straight. Konnor Smith at 3:50 pulled the Petes to within one, followed by Samuel Mayer at 12:30 to tie the game 3-3. At 15:36, after Noah Roberts was hauled down outside the Bulldogs blueline, the Petes attacked 3-on-1 with Chase Lefevbre converting an Owen Beck rebound to give the Petes a 4-3 lead.
Despite being down their captain and leading offensive defenseman, the Bulldogs did not quit into the third period. With Matteo Drobac walling off all 12 Petes shots he faced in the final frame, denying 47 total in regulation, the Bulldogs responded to their goaltender once more. At 12:39, just after a Bulldogs power-play had expired, Tomas Hamara turned the puck forward from the end boards for Patrick Thomas who found Marek Vanacker on the fast break infront of the net to record his 7th of the season tying the game 4-4 and earning Thomas his 3rd point of the night. The Bulldogs nearly nosed ahead with just a couple minutes to go as Luca Testa was sprung on a breakaway, baiting Sztuska down Testa tried to beat the Petes netminder’s blocker but Sztuska was able to bat it over the net to keep the game tied and send the proceedings to overtime.
In the extra frame, Nick Lardis earned the best chance for the Bulldogs, taking a pass from Lucas Moore off the right circle and wiring a drive to goal that Sztuska just managed to elevate over the goal. After Cole Brown was flagged for tripping late in overtime, the Petes called a close, with Matteo Drobac’s initial stop of a Donovan McCoy shot landing for Samuel Mayer and giving the Petes a 5-4 overtime win.
The Brantford Bulldogs look to build off taking 5 of a possible 6 points on the weekend when they return home on Wednesday, November 15th to host the Sarnia Sting for the only time this season with puck drop at 7:00pm.