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Friday, September 08, 2017

Clippers top Dogs 5-3 with late comeback

A rather spirited start to the game after the home side player introductions. The Dogs failed to get the puck out of their zone from near the blue line resulting in an extended period in their zone that led to a penalty. The Clippers would have a handful of good chances on the advantage, but Colten Lancaster was rock solid making at least six saves to keep it scoreless. The Dogs appeared inspired by the kill, and quickly opened the scoring as Darren Rizzolo put a puck on net that was stopped by Noah Featherstonehaugh Gow. The rebound was located by Brandon Bergado on the left wing wall, where he chipped it to the middle for Cayden Kraus who walked to the net and snapped a quick release far-side off the post and in to make it 1-0 at 6:32 of the first. The Dogs went to their first power play chance of the game soon afterwards, and while they didn't score they had a bushel of chances and extended pressure in the attacking zone even after the penalty elapsed. The momentum continued, as the Dogs earned another power play. They appeared to get away with an accidental trip early in it, and half a minute later made it a 2-0 game as Michael Sacco put the puck at the net where it deflected off a Clipper defender and onto the stick of a wide open Julian Benner. Featherstonehaugh Gowe made the first save, but Benner connected on a midair puck that he batted home for his first career goal to make it 2-0 on the power play at 15:07 of the first. The Officials would conference to consider if it was a high stick, and would stay with their initial call and the goal stood. The Dogs had three great chances to build their lead in the following minutes, with Keaton Mastrodonato sneaking behind the Clipper defence and picking up a perfect pass to skate in on a breakaway where he was robbed by the glove of the Clipper netminder. Mastrodonato would stay with the play, and he found Jackson Doucet wide open in front, where again Featherstonehaugh Gowe made a big glove save to keep it 2-0. The Clippers would push to answer in the final minute of the period, but Lancaster was solid to protect the lead. Shots in the first were 19-12 Bulldogs. They at one time trailed 8-1, before firing 18 straight on the Nanaimo net.

There was no scoring through the first half of the second period. While each team had their chances, the Dogs had the better of them, but they couldn't bury an opportunity to build their lead despite a power play opportunity early in the period. The Clippers would cut the deficit in half with 7:22 to play in the period, on what looked like an innocent play that saw David Silye put a perfect centering pass onto the stick of Parker Colley who snapped a perfect shot top corner, bar-down over the glove of Lancaster to make it a 2-1 game. The Clippers pressed on the following shift, but the Dogs held on. They would then be forced to protect their lead with a solid penalty kill. The Dogs pushed back and had the territorial advantage in the late stages of the period, but Featherstonehaugh Gowe made a couple good saves, most notably with his glove off Cole Poliziani from the slot to keep it a one-goal game after 40 minutes. Shots in the period were 12-11 Dogs, for a 31-23 advantage after two.

The third period saw the Clippers push for the equalizer, with the Dogs unable to generate much in the way of momentum, offence or attack-zone time. While it remained 2-1 through the midway mark of the third, the Dogs for the most part were on their heels. It would come back to bite them with less than six minutes to play, on a funny bounce that found it's way through Lancaster, short-side. While it was a tough luck goal against, at the same time it's hard to argue the Clippers hadn't earned a break around the net with the amount of time they spent in the attacking zone through the bulk of the period. Brady Lynn would get credit for it, with Tyler Maser picking up the lone assist at 14:13 of the third. The Clippers smelled blood, and the Bulldogs appeared stunned, and just seconds later the attack in the Dogs zone continued and ended up in the Clippers going up 3-2 when Tristan Crozier scored on a one-timer from the slot past the blocker of Lancaster with assists to Jordan Wharrie and Jake Harris at 14:39 of the third. The damage wasn't done there, as an attacking zone faceoff ended up in the Dogs net less than a minute later as Parker Colley won it clean back to Ben Pirko who one-timed it through traffic past the blocker of Lancaster to make it 4-2 at 15:26 of the third. The Dogs were no doubt shell shocked, but to their credit found a way to get their feet back under them to make a game of it with the goalie out on the rush as Ryan Steele took a Darren Rizzolo pass up the right wing and battled it ahead through traffic for Cole Poliziani. He in turn made a quick feed to the middle to Christian Simeone in full flight over the Nanaimo line as he snapped a quick release top corner, far-side past Featheringstonehaugh Gowe to make it 4-3 with 2:02 to play in the third. The Dogs again pressed with the goalie out, and came painfully close to getting the equalizer on a cross-ice play to the back post that appeared to deflect possibly off a defender before getting behind the Nanaimo goalie and onto the goal line, but no closer as it stayed out. The Dogs comeback would fall short when Jamie Collins chased down a loose puck in the Dogs zone to hit the empty net to make it 5-3 at 19:51, unassisted.

Noah Featherstonehaugh Gowe picked up the win in the Nanaimo net, while Colten Lancaster took the loss. Final shots were 39-38 Bulldogs. The Dogs went 1 for 3 on the power play, while the Clippers went 0 for 2.

The Dogs are next in action Friday night when they host the Victoria Grizzlies for their Home Opener.


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