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Bulldogs blow out Petes in annual Foundation game

Brantford BulldogsBulldogs blow out Petes in annual Foundation game

Brantford Bulldogs demolished the Peterborough Petes 11-1 during the annual Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024. 

The Bulldogs came out of the gate pounding the Peterborough defence and netminder Liam Sztuska with relentless pressure on their defence. At one point, they outshot their division rivals 13-0 before the Petes registered a shot on goal at the 9:49 mark. On their 16th shot of the game, the Bulldogs finally solved Sztuska. 

Bulldogs RW Adrian Rebelo drives hard to the net for a quality scoring chance late in the first period of the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

With 6:12 left, defenceman Daniil Sobolev dumped the puck across the ice, and left winger Patrick Thomas gained possession of the puck in the left side of the attacking zone. Thomas would then pass the puck to centreman Florian Xhekaj, who sniped the puck through the pads of Sztuska for his 22nd goal of the season. Thomas and Sobolev picked up the assists. The Bulldogs added one more before the end of the period with 3:57 remaining. After Thomas won the faceoff in the right side of the attacking zone, defenceman Lucas Moore passed the puck to Xhekaj, who then made a strong pass to right winger Zakary Lavoie, who rifled a one-timer past the right side of Sztuska for his eighth goal in the Bulldogs uniform, and 21st of the season. Xhekaj and Moore had the assists on the Lavoie goal. 

Bulldogs LW Calvin Crombie lines up Petes D Carson Cameron for a hit late in the first period during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Both teams exchanged a pair of shots in the remaining 3:19, but the Bulldogs headed to the first intermission with a substantial shots-on-goal advantage of 23-3 and led 2-0. In the second period, the Bulldogs continued their assault on the Peterborough defence and netminder Sztuska, increasing their shots-on-goal to 33-5 early. 

Bulldogs D Owen Protz battles for the puck during first period action against the Peterborough Petes on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

But as the game approached the halfway mark, a scary incident occurred at the Petes attacking zone. The incident occurred during the early stage of the four-on-four with 11:58 remaining when Petes centreman Jonathan Melee intercepted the puck from Bulldogs centreman Jake O’Brien, then proceeded to breakaway down the ice. Defenceman Cedrickson Okitundu managed to close the gap but collided with teammate and netminder David Egorov and crashed onto the goalpost, causing the net to be dislodged on impact. The game stopped for several minutes as medical personnel from both teams attended to the injured Bulldog. The fourth-year player would eventually leave the game on the stretcher to a warm ovation from the crowd of 3,121. 

Bulldogs D Owen Protz gets ready to rip a shot on goal during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

After an official review, Melee’s goal stood after Okitundu’s skate deflected the puck into the Bulldogs net during the incident. Bulldogs lead was now 2-1. The incident turned out to be the game’s turning point as the Bulldogs’ offence shifted to another gear with a barrage of goals in the latter half of the period. It began with 9:39 remaining in the middle frame as right winger Cole Brown drove the puck down to the attacking zone and made the short pass to the right winger Thomas. Thomas skated with the puck behind Petes goal and made a quick pass to left winger Marek Vanacker, who backhanded the puck past Petes netminder Sztuska for a 3-1 lead. It was Vanacker’s 27th of the season, with the assists rewarded to Thomas and Brown. 

Bulldogs LW Marek Vanacker narrowly misses scroing a goal against the Peterborough Petes on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Brown would then tally one of his own at 12:23. Bulldogs defenceman Sobolev made a sharp feed to rookie defenceman Ben Radley, firing a rocket to traffic in front of the net, only to be tipped by Brown. Radley registered his first career point in the Ontario Hockey League with the assist on Brown’s ninth of the year. Moore was also credited with the assist.

Bulldogs C Jake O’Brien makes a nice move to get around Petes C Tommy Purdeller during second period action.

Eighteen seconds later, the Bulldogs top line joined the scoring onslaught. Right winger Adrian Rebelo hustled down the ice and passed the puck to left winger Lawson Sherk, who quickly fed the puck to Sobolev for a one-timer past Sztuska for a 5-1 lead. It was the second goal for Sobolev as a member of the Bulldogs, with Sherk and Rebelo’s assistance. After Bulldogs defenceman Sobolev was penalized for a five-minute major a short time later, the Bulldogs were down to four defencemen for the rest of the game. 

Bulldogs LW Lawson Sherk blocks a shot attempt late in the second period during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Despite the situation, the Bulldogs penalty kill found their way to continue the scoring onslaught, and into the record books. Just thirteen seconds into the Petes’ powerplay, the Bulldogs generated a turnover in the attacking zone, creating a two-on-one. Team captain Sherk then shoots the puck that gets redirected by centreman Ben Bujold and past the stick side of the Petes’ netminder Sztuska for a 6-1 Bulldogs lead. Bujold tallied his 12th goal of the season, and Sherk and defenceman Owen Protz are credited with the assists. 

Petes C Tommy Purdeller takes Bulldogs D Owen Protz hard into the boards early in the third period during the Bulldogs Foundation game on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Later in the period, the shorthanded Bulldogs stretched their lead with back-to-back unassisted goals from Sherk (9) and Xhekaj (23) less than six seconds apart. The Bulldogs made franchise history with the three shorthanded goals, scoring the fastest two goals and most goals shorthanded in one session. Bulldogs netminder David Egorov faced a quick flurry of shots from the Petes powerplay unit late in the period but managed to preserve the multi-goal lead. After all the electricity, the Bulldogs had a solid 8-1 lead through 40 minutes of play. 

Before the start of the third period, Liam Sztuska was relieved in goal for Zach Bowen. Despite the goaltending change, the Bulldogs continued to pour on the goals. With 8:08 remaining, Marek Vanacker received the puck from Adrian Rebelo in the neutral zone and made the short pass to Zakary Lavoie, who scored his second of the game, his ninth as a member of the Bulldogs. Rebelo and Vanacker tallied their second assist of the game on the Lavoie goal. 

Bulldogs G David Egorov makes one of his 21 saves during third period action against the Peterborough Petes on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

At 14:23, Bulldogs rookie right winger Dylan Tsherna tallied his first OHL goal. Centreman Luca Testa provided the assist after the sharp feed to the streaking Tsherna, whose shot from the right faceoff circle beat Bowen upstairs and into the net. Bulldogs Right winger Cole Brown would his second goal of the game with eight seconds remaining, giving both Brown (career-high four points) and linemate Adrian Rebelo (career-high three points) his first multi-point game in the OHL.

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