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Bulldogs fall to Ottawa 67’s in overtime thriller

Brantford BulldogsBulldogs fall to Ottawa 67's in overtime thriller

Despite a stellar comeback effort to force overtime, the Brantford Bulldogs lost 6-5 to the Ottawa 67’s on Friday, January 12, 2024.

Right from the start in the opening frame, the Bulldogs’ offence controlled the tempo, outshooting the 67s 10-1 in the first ten minutes. The first grand opportunity came at 7:54 when Bulldogs newcomer right winger Zakary Lavoie went on the breakaway from a pass by left winger Marek Vanacker, but his shot just missed the net.

The first significant opportunity for the 67’s came at 9:51 when defenceman Thomas Sirman shot the puck from the blue line, only for Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac to make the sprawling save and not allow centreman Will Gerrior to get the rebound at the crease.

Bulldogs opened the scoring on the powerplay at the 11:40 mark. After efficient passing in their attacking zone, Lardis would pass to defenceman Tomas Hamara, who then fed to Lavoie, who sniped the one-timer for his first goal as a Bulldog. Hamara and Lardis received credit for the assists.

Despite the strong start by the home side, Ottawa responded with their first goal of the contest. With 6:30 remaining, new 67’s centreman Brenden Kressler skated down the left side of the rink. It passed to the centre, where Gerrior, who was robbed by the Bulldogs netminder Drobac, only to tap in the rebound to even the score at one apiece. The score remained tied after twenty minutes.

In the second period, the 67’s took over the game. The first opportunity came at the 1:51 mark. Centreman Jacob Maillet made the cross pass to defenceman Henry Mews, only to be stopped point blank by Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac in one of his finest saves of the night.

Less than two minutes into the middle frame, the visitors took the lead for the first time. Right from the faceoff at the left circle in the 67’s attacking zone, centreman Chris Balas wins the draw, passing the puck to left winger Brad Gardiner, whose wrist shot was tipped from the left skate of new Bulldogs defenceman Owen Protz and past the unsuspected Drobac.

Bulldogs D Daniel Chen and RW Cole Brown battle for the puck with 67’s RW Kimi Kerbler during second period action on Friday, January 12, 2024.

On the four-on-four at the 7:05 mark, the 67s extended their lead. Defenceman Samuel Mayer battled a Bulldogs defender and made the highlight reel no-look pass from the end boards on their attacking zone to the wide-open centreman Luca Pinelli for a 3-1 Ottawa lead.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to one with 4:38 remaining. Following a turnover in the offensive zone, centreman Jake O’Brien feeds the puck to Lavoie, who shoots past the glove side of 67’s netminder MacKenzie. O’Brien and Vanacker got credit with the assists.

67s reclaimed their two-goal lead less than ninety seconds later in the powerplay. Kressler sniped the puck from near the blue line, only for Pinelli to redirect the puck through the pads of Bulldogs netminder Drobac for a 4-2 lead into the third period. The 67’s outshot the home team 11 to 7 in the period, where MacKenzie stopped 17 of 19 shots on goal. Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac had a challenging period but stopped nine out of 11 Ottawa shots.

Just under six minutes into the third period, defenceman Lucas Moore started the Bulldogs comeback. Late in the powerplay, Moore received the pass from Lardis, then rifled the puck through traffic and between the pads of Ottawa netminder MacKenzie to cut the deficit back to a goal.

At 9:07, the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty shot after left winger Luca Testa got hooked from behind on the breakaway. Testa made the 67s pay for their mistake as he deked MacKenzie and went upstairs on the right side of the net to tie the game at four.

The 67’s retook the lead with 8:36 to go in the period as left winger Chris Barlas rifled the puck above the left shoulder of Bulldogs netminder Drobac and into the net.

Ottawa 67’s G Collin MacKenzie looks in disbelief as Bulldogs LW Marek Vanacker (78) and Ottawa 67’s D Derek Smyth (2) look on after Bulldogs D Danil Sobolev tied the game late in the third period.

With the Bulldogs shorthanded and the net empty in the final minute of the period, they pulled off a dramatic sequence to tie the game. Lardis made the sharp pass from one side of the zone to newcomer defenceman Danil Sobolev, whose shot went through 67s netminder MacKenzie. Lavoie and Lardis registered their third point on Sobolev’s first goal as a Brantford Bulldog.

After both goaltenders kept the game deadlocked in the overtime session, the game went into a shootout. Bulldogs right winger Cole Brown and 67s centreman Kressler scored in the first round, but it was 67s centreman Nic Whitehead who sealed the game for the visitors.

The Bulldogs earned the point in the loss.

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