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Bulldogs come back to conquer the Kingston Frontenacs

Brantford BulldogsBulldogs come back to conquer the Kingston Frontenacs

The Brantford Bulldogs extended their winning streak to six games after defeating the Kingston Frontenacs 4-2 on Saturday, January 27, 2024.

Before the game, the Bulldogs unveiled a special commemorative chair at the west end rink level in honour of the late Walter Gretzky.

In the first period, the Bulldogs started its familiar offensive pace and outshot their division rivals 7-1 in the first ten minutes. 

But it was the Frontenacs who drew first in the opening frame. At the 10:44 mark, left Jacob Battaglia skated from the left circle area in their attacking zone, then shot the puck stick side of Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac and into the net.

The Frontenacs struck again later in the period. With 14 seconds remaining on the powerplay, defenceman Jacob Holmes made a sharp pass near the blue line to right winger Linus Hemstrom, who shot the puck through traffic and got past Drobac for a 2-0 Frontenacs lead. In over six minutes, the Frontenacs controlled the tempo, causing problems for the Bulldogs and outshooting the home side 8-2 in the shots on goal. 

Frontenacs C Matthew Soto (92) tries to shoot past the diving Bulldogs G Matteo Drobac in the first period.

With less than a minute remaining, the Bulldogs returned within a goal. After defenceman Owen Protz intercepted an errant pass from the Frontenacs, shoots a laser past Kingston netminder Mason Vaccari to cut the Frontenacs lead to 2-1 before intermission.

A scary moment occurred in the early stages of the second period. Bulldogs centreman Noah Nelson was injured after receiving a cross-check from behind by Frontenacs defenceman Jacob Holmes, leading to a scrum initiated by Nelson’s teammate defenceman Cedrickson Okitundu. As a result, Holmes received a five-minute major for boarding and game misconduct, while Okitundu received a two-minute roughing penalty and a ten-minute misconduct.

In their three-minute power play, Bulldogs left winger Marek Vanacker received an excellent feed from centreman Jake O’Brien up close and shot the puck only to get robbed by Frontenacs netminder Vaccari.

Bulldogs C Noah Nelson (11) is being held by Frontenacs D Jakob Chromiak in front of Frontenacs G Mason Vaccari in the first period.

The game’s turning point occurred in the closing minute of the second period. On the penalty kill with 34 seconds left, right winger Zakary Lavoie caused a turnover near the Kingston blue line and dished a cross-ice pass to the streaking Vanacker, creating a two-on-one into their attacking zone. Lavoie would then find space, shoot the puck past Vaccari’s glove side, and into the open net. Lavoie was credited for the assist on Vanacker’s 25th of the season.

Bulldogs LW Marek Vanacker watches the puck rolls behind Frontenacs G Mason Vaccari (1) and into the net late in the second period.

The Bulldogs would secure the win in the third period, courtesy of ten saves by reigning OHL goaltender of the week Matteo Drobac. With 6:34 remaining, defenceman Noah Roberts prevented a clearing attempt and shot the puck from the blue line in the team’s attacking zone, stopped initially by Vaccari, but left winger Calvin Crombie tapped in the rebound for the Bulldogs’ 3-2 lead. Roberts received credit for the assist on Crombie’s eleventh of the year.

Bulldogs right winger Cole Brown would then cement the win with the empty net goal from inside the neutral zone at 19:39. Defenceman Tomas Hamara was credited for the primary assist, while centreman Ben Bujold was credited for the secondary assist.

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