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Bulldogs clinch playoff spot after defeating Erie Otters

Brantford BulldogsBulldogs clinch playoff spot after defeating Erie Otters

Brantford Bulldogs clinched their seventh consecutive playoff spot after defeating the Erie Otters, 3-2 on Family Day, Monday, February 19, 2024.

Prior to puck drop the Bulldogs honoured the billet families who host the players during the season with a ceremony to thank them for all they do for the team.

David Egorov took the net for the Bulldogs on Family Day and began his heroics early, making a monstrous early stop on Sam Alfano splitting across his crease to keep it out, though the play was reviewed, the puck never crossed the goal line. Undeterred, at 1:16, the Otters were able to take the lead on a Bulldogs turnover with Brett Bressette picking up the puck just inside the blueline and scoring his 16th of the season to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

On an Otters turnover, Patrick Thomas tries to drive a shot on net, but it bounces off the shoulder of Erie emergency call-up Sergei Litvinov and out. Malcom Spence had the next high danger chance, finding himself all alone at the side of the Bulldogs net but David Egorov once again denied the Otters chance to add to the lead. Late in the frame the Bulldogs earned their first power-play advantage, which turned into a five-on-three for 1:06 seconds.

At 19:23, Jake O’Brien was able to retrieve the puck from Marek Vanacker’s hard work low and found Patrick Thomas on the right side to score his 16th of the season evening up the frame, where it stood after 20 minutes with David Egorov turning aside 17 of 18 shots. 

The middle frame was quite like the first with only two goals scored but the advantage being reversed. The Bulldogs jumped to their first lead of the game at 3:08 as Owen Protz found Noah Nelson on the left side, whipping a pass clear across the ice to Daniil Sobolev handling the bounce off the kickplate and whistling a wrister through Litvinov to score his fifth goal of the season and gives the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.

With the Bulldogs shorthanded, Marek Vanacker stripped the puck from an Otters defenceman to create a breakaway opportunity, but his right wing drive went off the post and out. At 9:07, off an Otters rush they were able to tie the game at two. After 40 minutes of play the game remained tied at 2-2 with David Egorov stopping 26 of the 28 shots he faced. 

At just 1:30 into the final frame, the Bulldogs regained the lead with Florian Xhekaj and Patrick Thomas on a two-on-one and Xhekaj took the drive, which was kicked aside by Litvinov but the perfect placement of the shot led to Thomas picking up the rebound, scoring his 17th of the season and second of the game, matching his career high. Zakary Lavoie danced through the Otters zone moments later getting a shot on goal with Patrick Thomas picking up the rebound, but Sergei Litvinov denied him the hat-trick bid.

In the final remaining seconds, the Otters brought the pressure, which awarded Ondrej Molnar a penalty shot after the Bulldogs covered the puck in the crease, but David Egorov stood tall one more time making the save and earning the 3-2 victory and clinching a playoff spot for the seventh straight season.

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