The Hamilton Bulldogs extended their season by at least four games with a 4-1 series clinching win on Sunday night at the Copps Coliseum. The ‘Dogs weren’t playing with urgency in this game and only accumulated nine shots after two periods of play. It took over two periods to get the game’s first goal. The ‘Dogs battled back from behind and luck was also on their side. A late power play for Hamilton allowed Frederic St-Denis to score a goal with just 2:56 remaining in the game. Two empty netters hammered the nails into the coffin as the ‘Dogs won the series 4-2.
Credit should go to the go-to guys of the Bulldogs for keeping the game closer than it really was. Drew MacIntyre had to make each stop count as the ‘Dogs weren’t putting enough pucks on Gerber. Alex Giroux of the Barons broke the scoreless tie at 5:41 of the third. Coach Cunneyworth felt his team wasn’t ready to compete. “I think their goal woke us up a bit,” said Hamilton coach Randy Cunneyworth. “Mentally, it was ‘oh my goodness’ and I credit the guys for reacting the way they did.”
Nigel Dawes who’s scored in every game in which the ‘Dogs won, brought the momentum back to the home team. Just one minute after the game’s first goal, Dawes received a quick pass from Aaron Palushaj and took a shot while down on one knee to bury his 4th of the series.
The one area in which the ‘Dogs have had success against the Barons thus far in the series is special teams. Hamilton has scored 5 power play goals compare to one for the Barons. To add salt on the wound, the Barons were called for tripping at 15:28 of the final period. The ‘Dogs seized the opportunity and Frederic St. Denis fired a slap shot from the point and beat Gerber for his 1st of the playoffs. “It was a bit lucky, but I just threw the puck at the net to see what would happen,” said St. Denis. “We have to practice shooting the puck more because we have the speed and the talent but we have to make sure we get more pucks on net. Nineteen shots in our barn? That’s not enough to win a series.”
Nigel Dawes and J.T. Wyman added the empty netters and the ‘Dogs will look ahead to continue their road to the Calder Cup against either the Lake Erie Monsters or the Manitoba Moose.