Video highlights from tonight's game - sorry there aren't more included, I need to try and hit the hay...early bus tomorrow morning!
The pace was high from the opening puck drop in this one, with the Clippers having an early push in the first four minutes with a handful of pucks thrown on net turned aside by John Hawthorne. The Bulldogs pushed back almost immediately, with Cole Poliziani having the best chance on a clear-cut breakaway only to have Noah Featherstonehaugh Gowe come up with a big glove save to keep it scoreless. The Dogs kept the push on, but it came back to bite them as they got caught over agressively pushing and gave up a long 2 on 1 as a result that saw Brady Lynn keep the puck up the ring wing and over the Dogs line to the top of the circle and in tight where he put a perfect snap shot off the post and in, long-side past the blocker of Hawthorne. Assists went to Brad Belisle and Preston Brodziak at 6:40 of the first. The Dogs didn't appear to sag after the goal against, as they pushed back and got the equalizer with just under seven minutes to play in the period when Brandon Bergado stole the puck on the forecheck off a lost faceoff and put it perfectly to the slot for Paul Selleck where he snapped a quick release high past the glove of Featherstonehaugh Gowe to make it 1-1 at 13:18 of the first. The Dogs would end up in penalty trouble immediately afterwards, with one call being followed by another 42 seconds later that saw Darren Rizzolo ejected for a hit from behind. The Clippers came close early in the 5 on 3, ringing a shot off the post, but the Dogs killed the rest off beautifully with Michael Sacco making a great play to block a shot to clear the puck and salt precious time off the clock. Late in the period after what looked like a couple calls were missed, the Dogs earned a power play of their own. They had a couple good looks, but couldn't capitalize on them, before the Clippers were sent to the box again with less than five seconds to play in the period when a trip and a dive cancelled each other out, but an unsportsmanlike conduct call was then tacked on.
Shots in the period were 18-16 Bulldogs.
The Dogs made the Clippers pay for the extra penalty as they cashed in on it just 44 seconds into the period. Connor Welsh made a series of great plays at the left point to keep the puck in the zone, before sneaking in to put a backdoor set up on net that was picked out of mid air with the paddle of the goal stick by Featherstonehaugh Gowe. Welsh didn't give up on the play, and banked the loose puck in from behind the goal line to make it 2-1. Assists on the play went to Michael Sacco and Jackson Doucet. The Dogs would protect their lead with a penalty kill, and then build it later in the period with another power play goal as they worked the puck around the zone beautifully on a series of squences before Mitchell Oliver got a shot through from the right point that was stopped by the Clipper netminder, but he couldn't control the rebound as Keaton Mastrodonato lifted it home from the side of the crease for his first career goal to make it 3-1 at 11:01 of the second with Jackson Doucet and Mitch Oliver drawing the assists. The Dogs had a couple good chances around the net to build their lead over the following minutes, but the Clippers held on before getting back into it on a turnover by the Dogs in their zone resulting in a breakaway for Jamie Collins who made no mistake with a beautiful backhand, top corner over the glove of Hawthorne to make it 3-2 at 17:52 of the second.
Shots in the period were again 18-16 Bulldogs in the period for a 40 minute total of 35-32.
The Dogs struck early in the third to take their two-goal lead back, as Cayden Kraus got help on a battle on the left wing wall in the Nanaimo zone to keep the puck in. He then walked across the zone before dropping it to the top of the point for Tyson Slater, who snapped a quick shot on goal that was deflected home through the legs of Featherstonehaugh Gowe by Keaton Mastrodonato for his second of the game to make it 4-2 Dogs at 2:32 of the third. The Dogs pressed, but the Clippers again wouldn't go away as they dug back into it to make it 4-3 on an extended attacking zone shift that saw the puck thrown to the front of the net where it was stopped by Hawthorne, but the loose puck bounced off traffic across the crease where it was found and lifted home by Jamie Collins for his second of the game at 7:26 of the third with assists going to Brad Belisle and Vincent Millette. The Clippers put on a strong push over the following minutes looking for the equalizer but the Dogs didn't break as Hawthorne was good when called upon. The Bulldogs would push back themselves, and again took a two-goal lead at the end of a fantastic attacking zone shift that went on for what felt like forever, as Isaac Tonkin-Palmer and Cole Poliziani along with Cayden Kraus moved the puck magnificently around the attacking zone before Kraus chased the puck down behind the net and walked out near side and got on his forehand where he snuck one home short-side to make it 5-3 at 15:41 of the third. The Dogs had a couple of opportunities to put the game away over the following minutes, but it was instead the Clippers that refused to go away, making it a one-goal game with less than a minute to play after a couple of Bulldog misses on an empty net. Jamie Collins would take a perfect pass from Tristan Crozier - although he didn't get credit for it - and walked in alone down the left side in tight where he lifted a backhand home over Hawthorne to make it 5-4 at 19:26 of the third, with Jeremy Gervais drawing the only assist on the play. The Clippers would come no closer over the remainder of regulation, as the Dogs forced them into an icing to seal the deal.
Third period shots were 16-13 Nanaimo, for a game total of 49-47 Bulldogs with John Hawthorne picking up the win while Noah Feathstonehaugh Gowe took the loss. The Dogs went 2 for 6 on the power play while the Clippers went 0 for 7.
The Dogs are next in action tomorrow night in Powell River for a 5:00pm puck drop.
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