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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Good effort, bad result, Caps top Dogs 5-3

Today's Game Report is brought to you courtesy of the Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel 

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The first minute and change of the game was slow starting, with 4 or 5 whistles early. The Capitals would take a 1-0 lead before the game was two minutes old, on the rush after winning a draw just outside the Dogs blue line. The Dogs would get caught standing up at their own line and the Caps drove the net with speed as Rhett Wilcox one-timed home a cross-ice pass from Luke Santero, short side high before Carson Schamerhorn could get post to post. Connor Russell picked up the secondary assist at 1:44 of the first. Despite the tough start and how it must have been demoralizing to concede the opening goal for the sixth straight game, the Dogs deserve credit for not dwelling on it as they pushed the pace and carried the better of the play and had a series of chances before eventually tying the game just past the midway mark of the period. Chris Schutz would put a drop pass into the right circle for Quinn Syrydiuk, who one-timed it high and hard on goal. Storm Phaneuf would make the save, but the puck bounced out of his glove and behind him onto the goal line. A Caps clearing attempt would be knocked down by Dominic Thom in the hash marks, where he ripped it home top corner for his first as a Bulldog to tie it at 1-1 at 10:56 of the first with the Dogs holding an 11-4 lead at that point in the shots. The Caps would quickly respond, somewhat against the flow of play as Ryan Burton passed a spinning puck back to the right point for Connor Russell. He would one-time it on goal, where it was deflected home top corner by Kade Kehoe up and over the blocker of Schamerhorn to make it 2-1 Caps at 12:35 of the first. The Capitals would have a great chance to build the lead late in the period, but Carson Schamerhorn came up with a breakaway save on Matt Hudie to keep it 2-1 Caps after one with the Dogs outshooting the Capitals 13-8.

The first half of the second was played a high pace, with each team having a couple of looks around the net but the goalies standing tall to keep it a 2-1 game with each team having five shots through the first 10 minutes of the second. The Bulldogs would earn a power play soon afterwards, and connected on it just 15 seconds into the advantage as Scott Clark put a pass out to Chris Schutz in the left circle. He would put one on net from a sharp angle, resulting in a rebound in the slot with Adam Donnelly tying up the Caps defenders in the crease. Clark would find it after a second save by Phaneuf, and lift a backhand over the blocker of Phaneuf to make it a 2-2 game at 11:41 of the second with Schutz picking up the only assist. Similarly to the first when the Dogs tied it, the Capitals would quickly respond, albeit in controversial fashion as the Dogs coughed up the puck in the slot of their own zone. Carson Schamerhorn would make a good first save, only to have the puck go off his shoulder and high in the air. It would bounce on the goal line, with the Capitals jamming away to try and poke it home. One of the two Referees was in perfect position, crouching low behind the Dogs net to try and see it. He would never signal goal, instead raising one arm to the air as the net was dislodged. After a short conference at centre ice, a goal was awarded, and I'm not sure how that decision was made with the only person in the rink having a good look at it not apparently counting it. Ayden MacDonald would get credit for it, with assists going to Rhett Wilcox and Luke Santerno at 14:29 of the second. That has to be at least the third such goal in recent memory that has ended up in the Dogs net, where a puck has been stopped, only to go skyward and take an unfortunate bounce and go in, thinking back to versus Langley and Salmon Arm.  The Dogs would take a penalty immediately following the goal, and the Capitals would make them pay on the power play as Ryan Burton did a lap of the attacking zone from the right corner, across the deep slot and into the left circle down low before putting a cross-ice pass onto the tape of Matt Hudie who slid it into the open net at 16:24 to make it 4-2 Caps after two, with the Dogs out shooting the Capitals 13-10 in the period for a two period total of 26-18.

The Bulldogs again played pretty good hockey to start the third, having a couple odd-man chances that went painfully wide, most notably when Chris Sarault walked to the net on an odd-man rush and put a cross-crease pass to Liam Conrad, who just couldn't get a stick on it as he was tied up by a Capitals defender. Another chance on the rush a moment later saw an Eric Margo deflection hit between the pads of Phaneuf, only to have the puck stay out initially and on the ensuing scramble. A Bulldog penalty would follow promptly afterwards, and the Capitals would again connect as a Mitch Meek shot from the top of the point through a maze of bodies had eyes and eluded Carson Shamerhorn's blocker and found the back of the net. Connor Russell drew the only assist at 8:41 of the third. The Dogs didn't sag, and drew a penalty a couple minutes later. Another penalty at the front of the net resulted in a 5 on 3 advantage. The Dogs however would want more, as Patrick Geary speared Quinn Syrydiuk in the groin on his way to the penalty box, with one of the two Referees just feet away looking directly at it. No penalty would be called however, which incensed the Dogs bench. The Dogs would call time out and made quick work of the advantage as Nathan Dingmann fed Paul Meyer in the right circle, where he went cross-ice to Chris Schutz in the left circle where he blew a one-timer home before Phaneuf could get over to make it 5-3 at 13:49 of the third. The Bulldogs bench couldn't let the un-called spear go however, and before the puck was dropped the power play was taken away for a bench minor. You can't blame the bench or staff for taking the penalty, or at least I don't. It was obviously seen, and was a four minute penalty and was deliberately not called apparently. A critic would say that better discipline is better needed at that juncture. I'm inclined to agree with that somewhat, but one has to think that the Officials are just looking for an excuse at that point to hand that penalty out. At any length, the Dogs would push with their goalie out to make it a power play but they couldn't make it a one-goal game. With the Dogs net empty and a partial breakaway for the Caps at the least, Dominic Thom dove to knock the puck away from the Caps forward. He appeared to get puck first, but a penalty would still be called. As I understand the rules, a penalty on an empty net on an impending goal makes it an automatic goal, but it wouldn't in this case as the Caps went to a 5 on 3 power play to finish the game.

Shots in the third favoured the Dogs 12-9 for a game total of 38-27 with Carson Schamerhorn taking the loss and Storm Phaneuf picking up the win. Unofficial special teams numbers - I had both sides at 2 for 8 on the power play.

A great effort for the Dogs, but not the result they obviously wanted. One might say that a loss is a loss, no matter how you slice it. I however will look deeper than the end result and find the positive that the Dogs played well, and perhaps deserved a bounce or two that would have made all the difference. Full credit to the Caps, not to take anything away from their victory.

The Dogs next see action Saturday night in Victoria.

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