Enjoy the video below. Accept my apologies for the gaps in the audio and the shortness of the clips - it's hard to do it away from home, and I'm also continuing to fight to get clips correctly from HockeyTV. Technical challenges made this a four-plus hour effort tonight. I'm closing the computer for good!
The Bulldogs earned an early power play to start the game, and started it much differently than almost all of their opportunities the night before as they controlled the opening faceoff, and as a result had a good minute of pressure and chances around the Express net. While they didn't score, they did earn some momentum. Quite quickly, the Bulldogs were on the penalty kill, and then on a 5 on 3 kill for 1:17 seconds. They came out of it unscathed, with John Hawthorne coming up with two fantastic saves to keep it scoreless. The Bulldogs would earn a subsequent power play as the penalties continued, and connected on it to take a 1-0 lead when Tyler Vanuden did a good job to retrieve the puck behind the net and bank it back to the point for Connor Welsh. He would carry it across the line and switch up with Mitch Oliver before setting him up in the left circle for a one-timer that he blasted off a defender and in at 10:30 of the first. The Bulldogs were again penalized three minutes later, and once again killed it off. The fourth penalty of the period was one too many however, as the Express tied it late in the the frame on an unfortunate sequence that saw a clearing attempt hit Darren Rizzolo in the helmet and bounce to the blue line. The puck appeared, at least to me, to clearly sneak over the line but the Linesman thought differently and waved it off. The puck would immediately end up in the back of the Bulldog net on a shot from the hashmarks by Joshua Bruce, far-side past the blocker of Hawthorne. The assists on the play went to Eric Linell and Troy Robillard at 18:05 of the first. The Bulldogs would voice their displeasure with the Officials at centre ice following the goal, but it wasn't going to be changed at that point. Shots in the period were 13-12 Express.
The Bulldogs carried the play for the first minute and change of the second, and the Express pushed back over the following couple minutes, but neither side was able to generate much in the way of good chances. The Bulldogs earned the first power play of the period near the midway point of it, and once again won the opening draw to generate some chances and momentum, although they couldn't find the net. They were subsequently penalized on a tie up off a draw, resulting in four-aside hockey for over a minute. The Bulldogs killed off the penalty, and then instantaneously took another penalty. They also succeeded in killing it off, with John Hawthorne coming up with a huge save in the dying seconds of it on a cross-ice set up to a wide open Eric Linell off the back post. The Bulldogs pushed late in the period and had a couple good opportunities around the Express net, but more often than not they frustratingly elected to pass instead of shoot. When they did, Hamm held the fort as it remained tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, with the shots in the period being 12-7 Bulldogs, for a 24-20 advantage after the second.
The Express came out with a good initial push in the first minute of the period, but Hawthorne came up with two good saves in tight to keep it tied. The Express continued to have a slight edge in the early minutes, and created a Grade A chance from it as Christian Sanda was found wide open in front of the net, but Hawthorne waited him out to make a big blocker save to keep it tied just over four minutes into the period. The Bulldogs would respond, and take a 2-1 lead on a play that started from their end as Paul Selleck came into a battle on the side boards in the Dogs end to support Tyson Slater who had the puck underneath him as he was on the seat of his pants. Selleck would carry the puck out of the Dogs zone and then put a perfect bank pass up the right wing where Keaton Mastrodonato sped onto it and in alone on goal down the right wing where he snapped a perfect shot inside the far post past the blocker of Hamm to make it 2-1 Dogs at 9:52 of the third. The lead again didn't last long however, as the Express answered on a puck off the outside of the net, followed by a wrap around that was stopped by Hawthorne. The rebound would come to the slot where Doug Scott fought it through the legs of Hawthorne, with the lone assist going to Alex Ambrosio at 11:37 of the third. The Bulldogs responded well to conceding the lead, getting a couple good chances on the following shift. They would take the lead back just under six minutes to play as the Express had a couple chances to clear their zone but failed to do so as the Dogs hounded the puck. Cole Poliziani would keep it in for good, finding Christian Simeone at the bottom of the left circle. He put a perfect pass onto the strick of Ryan Steele driving the net through the slot, and he made no mistake one-timing a bullet top corner, short-side under the bar on Hamm to make it 3-2 Bulldogs at 14:05. Paul Selleck again supported a battle in the far corner of the Dogs zone to find Jackson Doucet in front of the Dogs net. He would find Keaton Mastrodonato again at full flight at centre ice where he drove the middle over the Express line. Two Express defenders would try to take him off the puck as he found Jackson Doucet joining the rush in the middle of the zone where he beat Hamm with a long-side shot past his glove to make it 4-2 at 15:23 of the third to complete the scoring.
Third period shots were 17-8 Bulldogs, for a 41-28 total in their favour as John Hawthorne picked up the win while Brock Hamm took the loss. The Dogs went 1 for 5 on the power play while the Express went 1 for 6.
The Dogs next see action Wednesday in Duncan when they visit the Capitals.
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