Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Barrie Colts 5-3 to even their first round Ontario Hockey League playoff series at two games on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
Both teams came out tentatively to start the opening period but the Colts started to control the play two minutes later with some sustained pressure in the Bulldogs zone. Hamilton responded, assisted by an early powerplay, when the Colts were assessed a bench minor for too many men. The Bulldogs spent most of the man advantage in the offensive zone and capitalized just as the powerplay expired when forward Cole Brown buried a rebound past Colts goalie Ben West to give the home team the early 1-0 lead.
Hamilton pressured after the opening goal but it was the Colts who responded just over one minute later to tie things at one. Both teams settled down through the middle stages of the period but Barrie controlled most of the play. The Bulldogs then ran into penalty trouble in the later stages of the opening period, getting called for two minor penalties, including a five-on-three penalty kill for a full minute. Hamilton killed the penalties off with ease and, after 20 minutes, the team were knotted at one.
The Bulldogs started the second stanza on a shortened powerplay but couldn’t capitalize. They were awarded their third man advantage of the game shortly after and regained their lead when defenceman Jorian Donovan ripped a point shot past West for a powerplay marker. Hamilton continued to pressure the Colts, forcing turnovers with their physicality and strong forecheck. The Bulldogs increased their lead eight minutes into the frame when forward Adrian Rebelo buried a shot past West to give his team a 3-1 lead. Hamilton continued to battle hard but couldn’t take advantage and, after 40 minutes, the Bulldogs had a 3-1 lead, outshooting the Colts 23-18 through two periods.
Barrie responded to start the final frame, capitalizing on their third powerplay opportunity 58 seconds in to get back within one, 3-2. The Colts continued to push the pace, getting a short-handed breakaway a minute later but Bulldogs goalie Matteo Drobac made the save to preserve the one-goal lead. Hamilton responded less than 20 seconds later with their second powerplay marker of the game when forward Nick Lardis buried a cross-ice pass to regain the two-goal lead, making it 4-2 with ten minutes left in the game.
After killing off their fifth penalty, the Bulldogs were given their sixth penalty when Lardis was sent off for delay of game for firing the puck over the glass. Barrie took advantage, scoring their second powerplay goal to get back within one, making it 4-3 with less than ten minutes to go. Hamilton responded, after being given their fifth powerplay, when Lardis scored his second of the game and the team’s third goal with the man advantage to open up a 5-3 lead.
The Bulldogs capitalized on special teams and got solid goaltending from Drobac as they held on for the victory, tying their best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
The Bulldogs travel to Barrie for game five of their series tonight and return home for game six on Monday, April 10, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.