A good start for the Bulldogs, as they managed to get the puck in deep on several instances and get the first couple of shots on net, although no scoring chances. The Clippers would get their first shot just over five minutes into the game. The game was hard fought through the first half of the opening period with the shots even at six-aside. The Bulldogs would open the scoring late in the frame when Drake Brown put an outlet pass from the Dogs zone cross-ice to send Josh Adkins up the right wing through centre. He would drive over the Clippers line and fight off a check to drive in on goal where he fired it by Decelles short-side. Assists on the play somehow went to Justin Marreck and Logan Savard at 14:04 of the first. Just a minute later the Clippers looked to have too many men on the ice, but all four Officials missed it. Just 30 seconds or so later, the Dogs would be penalized. The Clippers would connect on it after a couple good saves by Christopoulos when Nick Gushue walked into the top of the left circle and put a slapper home far side through traffic, blocker side. Brendan Taylor and Anthony Rinaldi picked up the assists on it at 16:24 of the first, with the shots favouring the Clippers 15-9 after 20 minutes.
The Dogs had a good start to the second in the early minutes, but the Clippers put on a push as the period wore on, having a good amount of chances in tight that Christopoulos was razor sharp on, most notably on a one-timer from the hash marks by Spencer Hewson. As the period wore on, it was obvious that the Dogs were labouring and feeling fatigued, but they bent and didn't break and Christopoulos came up huge to keep it at 1-1 after 40 minutes. Shots favoured the Clippers 13-10 in the period for a 28-19 advantage after 40 minutes. The Clippers would pick up a penalty at the 20 minute mark of the period with the Dogs beginning the third on the power play.
The Bulldogs would battle wet ice and didn't look good on their first power play of the game, taking a penalty near the midway mark of it after a good Clipper shot block. The Dogs went to a short 4 on 3 advantage after four-aside hockey when a Dog had a stick slashed out of their hands. They wouldn't be able to generate on the advantage however. The third period would go back and forth over the middle parts of the frame with each team having their chances, but the Clippers having more of the Grade A opportunities. The Bulldogs spent a long time in the attacking zone on a great shift with Marcus Russell, Drew Blackmun and Chris Schutz pushing hard but being unable to find the go ahead marker. Past the midway mark of the period the Dogs had two fantastic looks in the attacking zone but both Garrett Halls and Drew Weich misfired on shot attempts. Cole Maier would block a shot and race up the right wing and put a shot on goal long-side that was turned away by the blocker of Christopoulos. He couldn't control the rebound though, as Nicolas Carrier beat his check to the net and one-timed it home past a sliding Christopoulos who made a desperate bid to get over. The Dogs would have a fantastic chance to tie it when Guillaume Decelles came up with a game-saver point blank on Josh Adkins who was set up all alone in the hash marks. The Dogs came up with a big penalty kill when they were sent to the box with five minutes to go to keep it within a goal, and would then draw a power play with just over a minute to go to make it a 6 on 4 advantage. They had one sharp angle centering bid go through the crease, but that's as close as they would come as the Clippers did a good job to kill it off before they hit the empty net to seal the deal as Spencer Hewson fired it home from the Clipper blue line. The only assist went to Jacob Hanlon at 19:35 to make it 3-1. As has been their hallmark, the Bulldogs refused to quit and valiantly fought to the final buzzer with a series of scrambles in the Nanaimo crease but they couldn't beat Decelles as the Clippers killed the clock.
Final shots favoured the Clippers 40-24 (Dan had the Dogs credited with 31) with Billy Christopoulos taking third star honours with the loss - he was in my opinion without question the 1st star of the game, with Guillaume Decelles picking up the win. The Dogs went 0 for 3 on the power play while the Clippers went 1 for 3.
A heartbreaking loss for the Dogs, but they can certainly hold their heads high with their season and their efforts refusing to quit in the series, only to fall painfully short. I certainly feel for the graduating players, especially the guys that couldn't play due to injury in Kurt Gosselin and Evan Tironese. Best of luck to Drake Brown - boy did he up his game in the Playoffs. Dylan Haugen - what a 20 year old year for him with 19 goals. Mitch Makin - what a leader over his years in a Dogs sweater. Eric Therrien, another guy who upped his game in the Playoffs. Finally, Billy Christopoulos. Amazing performance from him all season, and through the Playoffs. Best of luck at Air Force. Wouldn't be at all surprised to see you playing pro one day.
That's all for now. Best of luck to the Clippers moving forward.
As saddened as I am that the season is done, and as bad as I wanted to see the run continue and a packed Dog Pound, I'm very much looking forward to a lighter work load and more time with my family.
It's just insane how much time I put into this blog - I love it, and do it for you the fans, the parents, and the players. But it's a LOT of time that I'm happy I can step away from for a bit. For the first time all year, I'm eating dinner on the bus while it's still warm! Thanks for reading as always, if you appreciate it don't hesitate to click the DONATE button on the right hand side as I would certainly appreciate it, but never expect it.