NEW DOGS SPARK 5-4 COMEBACK WIN
The Brantford Bulldogs skated on Brantford ice for the first time in the 2023-24 pre-season, hosting the Kitchener Rangers in a pre-season game on Wednesday night at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in front of a boisterous crowd welcoming the Dogs to their new hometown.
Through the excitement, it was the visiting Rangers who looked to take the crowd out of the game early as Carson Rehkopf & Tomas Hamara scored just under 2-minutes apart to stake the visitors to a 2-0 lead.
Just 1:30 after Hamara scored, Marek Vanacker stole a pass deep in the Bulldogs zone and broke ahead 2-on-1 with Patrick Thomas, with the Washington Capitals draft choice setting the 2022 Bulldogs 1st round selection to cut the Rangers lead in half. Scoring for the first time in his return to where he played his minor hockey, Vanacker brought the crowd to it’s feet.
The Rangers momentum continued on with goals from Rehkopf late in the middle frame and Motew’s pinball effort just before the midway point of the third giving the visitors a commanding 4-1 lead. Then, the Bulldogs rookies took center stage.
On a 4-on-3 power-play just after the midway point of the third, Jorian Donovan & Patrick Thomas worked the puck to perfection from left to right for 2023 1st round selection Jake O’Brien for his 1st goal on home ice.
Just :59 seconds after O’Brien cut the lead to two, Bulldogs 2023 2nd round selection Dylan Tsherna stripped the puck from a Rangers defender and walked in alone of Luca DiFelice, going top shelf to cut the lead to just one.
With momentum firmly on the side of the hosts, the Bulldogs offence continued it’s late charge with just 3:10 left to play. Off a Lawson Sherk face-off win, Cole Brown collected the puck at the top of the circle and, in one motion, spun and fired a shot on goal. Florian Xhekaj, planted on the door-step tipped the initial and potted the second effort to tie the game in dramatic fashion.
With pre-season ties being determined directly by a shootout, the Bulldogs continued to feed off the momentum of the comeback. Led by Cole Brown and followed by strikes from Marek Vanacker & Patrick Thomas the Bulldogs scored on all 3 of their shots. With Tanner Lam representing the Rangers’ last chance, Tristan Malboeuf denied his effort with a poke check to give the Bulldogs the 5-4 comeback win.
The Bulldogs next head to Kitchener on Friday night, September 8th for the rematch with the Rangers with a 7:00 puck drop before hosting the Guelph Storm on Friday, September 22nd, at Six Nations Arena with tickets available through TicketMaster with a portion of all ticket sales for the September 22nd game going directly to local minor hockey teams.