Two third period goals from right winger Nick Lardis and David Egorov’s eighteen saves gave the Brantford Bulldogs a 6-3 win over the Sarnia Sting on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
Things started on the wrong foot for the Bulldogs in the early stages of the first period. For the first several minutes of the period, the Sting established pressure on the Bulldogs defence, turning turnovers into scoring opportunities.
The Sting opened the scoring at 2:56, as Roman Kukumberg hustled the puck down the left side of the Bulldogs zone and made a short pass to left winger Sandis Vilmanis, who shot left side past Bulldogs netminder David Egorov.
Following the Sarnia goal, the Bulldogs offence started to click, and it only took their first shot on goal to even the score. At 5:02, centreman Jake O’Brien passed the bouncing puck to right winger Calvin Crombie, who circled and rifled the puck from the right circle through a screen and past the glove side of Sting netminder Karsen Chartier. O’Brien, who returned to the team from the World U17 Challenge, recorded his sixth point in the last five contests with his assist on the Crombie goal.
Just under a minute later, the Bulldogs struck gold again. Right winger Nick Lardis made a hard cross-ice pass from the blue line to left winger Patrick Thomas, who then made a great feed to a wide-open defenceman, Jorian Donovan, who blasted the puck past the right pad of Chartier for a 2-1 Bulldogs lead. Both Thomas and Lardis received credit for the assists.
But the Sting struck back 56 seconds later. The Sting powerplay unit made quick work following the Luca Testa tripping penalty. Jacob LeBlanc’s point shot was initially stopped by Egorov, only for Zach Filak to take the puck. It made the behind-the-back pass and fooled the Bulldogs netminder to Tyson Doucette, who tucked the puck into the wide-open net.
The Bulldogs tried to respond less than a minute later when O’Brien made a great pass to the streaking Lardis. Still, Lardis’ shot was stopped by a great pad save from the Sarnia netminder.
Both sides generated scoring chances, but the game remained deadlocked at two apiece heading into the second period. Despite the slow start, the Bulldogs outshot the Sting 12-4 in the final fifteen minutes of the opening frame.
Sarnia retook the lead in the early minutes of the second period. At 5:02, Sean Doherty stole the puck from Bulldogs’ Donovan in front of the Bulldogs net and shot the puck past the glove side of Egorov.
The game’s turning point came seconds later as Sting’s Andrew LeBlanc received a match penalty for slewfoot on Bulldogs left winger Marek Vanacker, giving the home side a five-minute powerplay.
After five shots on goal during the powerplay, the Bulldogs’ effort paid off. With fifty seconds remaining, Defenceman Tomas Hamara dished the pass in the neutral zone to Florian Xhekaj, who then overpowered two Sting defenders and passed the puck to left winger Luca Testa, who jammed the puck just past the right pad of Chartier to tie the game. Xhekaj tallied his sixth assist of the season, while Hamara got his first assist and point in the Bulldogs uniform.
The game remained tied at three after forty minutes. Bulldogs outshot the Sting 15-8 in the middle frame.
A scary moment came less than ninety seconds into the third period as Bulldogs’ Testa was checked hard into the boards by Sarnia’s Jacob LeBlanc. The second-year forward went to the locker room and did not return.
Bulldogs took the lead for good with 9:28 remaining. After causing the turnover, centreman Ben Bujold passes the puck to Thomas in the Bulldogs’ attacking zone, who then makes a great feed to Lardis, going upstairs past Chartier. Thomas and Bujold collected the assists.
With two points on the night, Thomas has extended his scoring streak to twelve games, registering 17 points in that span.
The Bulldogs iced the game with under two minutes remaining as right winger Cole Brown dumped the puck from the neutral zone to the attacking zone, where left winger Marek Vanacker hustled to the puck and shot past the sprawling Sting netminder up close.
With 1:05 remaining, the Sting brought in their extra attacker with their net empty. The Bulldogs defence and netminder David Egorov stood tall before Lardis notched his second game marker with the empty netter. With the three points on the night, Lardis extended his point streak to five games (nine points during that span).
The Bulldogs travel east for a two-game road trip, with a stop in Ottawa to square off against the 67’s on Friday and Saturday in Kingston against the Frontenacs.