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Brantford Bulldogs outlast IceDogs on home ice

Brantford BulldogsBrantford Bulldogs outlast IceDogs on home ice

The Brantford Bulldogs survived a late IceDogs rally in the closing minutes to extend their winning streak over their arch-rivals to 21 games with a 3-2 win on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.

Bulldogs got off to a solid start at 5:26, courtesy of left winger Calvin Crombie. Right winger Jake O’Brien hustled down the right side of the rink into the attack zone, spun around the Niagara defender, then sent a gorgeous pass to Crombie, who put the puck in the net. O’Brien gets credited with the assist.

But the IceDogs respond with one of their own at the 7:06 mark. IceDogs rookie forward Ethan Czata shoots up close, which was stopped by Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac, only for left winger Rafek Dianov to jam the rebound past the right side of Drobac. 

Bulldogs G Matteo Drobac (45) holds the puck in his glove after making a save in the first period.

The score remained at one apiece after twenty minutes of play. The Bulldogs sustained pressure for most of the opening frame outshot the visitors 12-8.

The second period was both scrappy and entertaining. The Bulldogs began the period on the powerplay. Bulldogs’ best chance with the man advantage came less than two minutes into the period when left winger Patrick Thomas attempted a backhand shot in front of the Niagara goal, but netminder Owen Flores with a big pad save.

At 4:53, the Bulldogs broke the deadlock with another solid display of creativity by the Bulldogs. Thomas obtained the puck off the boards in the attacking zone and delivered a bullet backhand pass to a wide-open right winger, Nick Lardis, who shot a rocket past Flores. Thomas received the well-earned assist on Lardis’ 17th goal of the season. Centreman Ben Bujold was also credited with the secondary assist.

Bulldogs C Ben Bujold (89) is set for the opening faceoff with IceDogs C Alex Assadourian in the first period.

As the period progressed, the IceDogs’ lack of discipline continued to show as the netminder Flores initiated a scrum at the net, using his stick on Bulldogs’ Crombie after the latter crashed in the net following Bulldogs centreman Lawson Sherk’s shot was stopped initially by Flores. Both Flores and Crombie received penalties as a result, with IceDogs getting a powerplay after the Crombie interference.

With 2:06 remaining, the Thomas-Lardis connection struck again. Thomas gained control of the puck on the boards and passed it to Lardis, who made no mistake with another wide-open slapshot up close, going upstairs past Flores for his 18th of the year. Thomas gets his second assist of the night, while defenceman Jorian Donovan picked up the secondary assist.

Bulldogs C Florian Xhekaj screens in front of IceDogs G Owen Flores (31) early in the first period.

Things took a nasty turn after the period ended, as several players from the IceDogs bench and Flores engaged in a confrontation in centre ice with the Bulldogs players as they were heading back to their respective locker rooms. As a result of the incident, Flores and the IceDogs bench received penalties, giving the Bulldogs a four-minute powerplay to start the third period.

In the final frame, the Bulldogs were looking to seal the game on the early powerplay, but the IceDogs netminder Flores stood tall in the crease. The most notable save came when centreman Florian Xhekaj attempted to go backhand in front of the goal, only to be stopped by Flores.

Bulldogs and IceDogs players engage in a brawl at the back end of the IceDogs net in the second period.

With 5:15 to go in the game, Lardis thought he scored a hat trick, but the goal was disallowed due to an offside from an official review. 

IceDogs made things enjoyable late as the Bulldogs lead cut to one after the Ryan Roobroeck slapshot passed Drobac at 16:38.

Despite the goal allowed, Drobac stood tall as he made several key stops in the closing minutes, quelling the IceDogs threat as the game ended.

Bulldogs RW Jake O’Brien locks up with IceDogs LW Eric He (98) in the first period.

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