Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Dogs season ends with 5-4 double OT loss in Game 7
The second period started rather slow, but the Grizzlies started to pick up the pace and get some chances. After back-to-back deflections hit the post on either side of LaCouvee and stayed out, they would get on the board when Shaw McBride tipped a Mitch Meek point shot through LaCouvee and just over the line to make it 2-1 at the 6:49 mark of the second, with Cole Pickup also drawing a helper on the play. The Grizzlies came close to tying it on the following shift, as Gerry Fitzgerald walked to the slot and rang a shot off the crossbar. The Bulldogs would push back almost immediately, storming the net and almost scoring on a scramble that saw Brandon Egli loose his cool and drop his gloves and jump Jake Kauppila and take an extra two minutes. The Bulldogs didn't score on the power play but built momentum, taking a 3-1 lead shortly after the man advantage elapsed as Zak Bowles put the puck back to the right point for Darian Henry who blew an absolute rocket top corner, far-side over the blocker of Renyard. The Referee at the side of the net wasn't sure if it went in, and couldn't be blamed for it, as it was incredibly fast. The back Referee at centre ice had a better view and pointed immediately that it was a goal at 11:39 of the second. The Grizzlies would get a power play later in the period to try and get back into it, but the Dogs killed it off. Quinton Wunder would exit the penalty box and pick up a stretch pass after Dylan Haugen and Zach Funk did a great job to battle it out at the Dogs zone. Wunder would gain the line and show great strength on his skates to fight off two Grizzlies before snapping one home low, long-side past the glove of Renyard to make it 4-1 with just 28 seconds to play in the second as the Dogs led the shots 26-22 after two.
The Bulldogs did a great job through the early stages of the third period to continue to play at a high pace and not give the Grizzlies much in the way of chances or time in the attacking zone. They would take a penalty that changed the tide a bit though as the Grizzlies scored to trim the gap to 4-2 as a Jaden Schmeisser shot from the deep slot deflected off a Bulldog defender and in over the glove of LaCouvee. Assists on the play went to Myles and Gerry Fitzgerald at 8:23 of the third. The Bulldogs would again play solid to salt the time away, holding off the Grizzlies who were pushing hard to make it a one-goal game. They would have a great chance to get further insurance when Scott Clark walked in on a partial breakaway, but Renyard came up with the save to keep it 4-2. The Dogs would head to the penalty box after a long shift defending in their own zone in the late stages as the Grizzlies went to the power play with just over two minutes to play. They would pull their goalie to make it a 6 on 4 advantage, and dodged an early bullet when the Dogs got the puck out and Jake Kauppila had his empty net shot from centre ice blocked. The Grizzlies would get within one when they won a draw in the Dogs end and Myles Fitzgerald walked in to the slot where he ripped one home top corner, short-side over the glove of LaCouvee with Gerry assisting at 18:18 of the third. They would pull their goalie immediately afterwards and less than a minute later tied the game when Jaeden Schmeisser took a cross-slot pass from Gerry Fitzgerald in the left circle that he ripped top corner, far-side over the glove of LaCouvee with 18:44 gone in the third to force overtime with Myles Fitzgerald also drawing an assist on the play with the shots favouring the Grizzlies 40-31 after 60 minutes as the game and the series went to next goal wins.
The first overtime would see no scoring, with the Bulldogs in full on survival mode as the Grizzlies dominated the play and the short-staffed Bulldogs clawing with every ounce they had to keep their season alive. Connor LaCouvee would come up time and again, and his team would do their best to protect their net to keep the game going. The Bulldogs would have a couple good chances, most notably on Darian Henry and Jake Kauppila looks from the slot, but they couldn't find the winner. The Grizzlies outshot the Dogs 18-5 over the first overtime.
Double OT saw the Bulldogs further short-manned as Darian Henry left at the end of the first overtime after getting concussed hitting his head on the glass. The Dogs gave up several glaring chances early in the double OT, but again LaCouvee stood tall and the Grizzlies failed to connect and the Dogs held on to keep the game going. The Grizzlies would prevail just over eight minutes into double overtime to win the game and end the series when a loose puck came to the slot for Shawn McBride who one-timed it home far-side past the blocker of LaCouvee. Assists on the play went to Cole Pickup and Kevin Massy at 7:18 of double OT for the 5-4 Final and the 4-3 series win.
Final shots favoured the Grizzlies 63-42 with Connor LaCouvee taking the loss in net, and NOT picking up a star award - possibly they were selected by the Game 6 Referees...Nic Renyard picked up the win. The Dogs went 1 for 4 on the power play while the Grizzlies went 2 for 4.
This one will no doubt hurt these players for a long, LONG time. Maybe forever, given the circumstances.
I for one, will NEVER FORGET what they accomplished and what they overcame and went through to even get to this position.
Thanks gentlemen. Incredible stuff.