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Bulldogs give back, beat Colts on Teddy Bear Toss Night

Brantford BulldogsBulldogs give back, beat Colts on Teddy Bear Toss Night

Jorian Donovan’s record-setting night and a pair of goals from Nick Lardis guided the Bulldogs to a 5-2 victory over the Barrie Colts on Teddy Bear Night, Friday, December 15, 2023.

At 3:31, controversy ensued as the Bulldogs believed they scored the game’s opening goal courtesy of centreman Florian Xhekaj. The goal did not count due to goaltender interference. Before the official ruling, the fans began tossing the teddy bears onto the ice after the Bulldogs goal, but the game crew gave the bears back to the stands following the no-goal.

Luckily for the fans, the Bulldogs didn’t let them wait for long. Just over six minutes later, while on the powerplay, the OHL’s reigning Player of the Week winner, Nick Lardis, made it official. Bulldogs defenceman Jorian Donovan made the great pass to Lardis for a one-timer past Colts netminder Ben West. Immediately after the goal, fans tossed their teddy bears onto the ice. Donovan and Xhekaj received credit for the assist on Lardis’s twenty-fourth goal of the season.

Bulldogs RW Dylan Tsherna (18) and D Noah Roberts (7) pile the teddy bears on the ice in the first period.

Lardis became the seventh Bulldog to score the elusive first goal in the annual event. The list includes Matthew Strome (2015), Connor Walters (2016), Will Bitten (2017), Brandon Saigeon (2018), Avery Hayes (2019), and Cole Brown (2022).

As the period winded down, the Bulldogs notched another goal. With forty-two seconds remaining, left winger Cole Brown caused a turnover in the attacking zone and passed the puck to Donovan, who then found right winger Calvin Crombie wide open, shooting into the empty net to pass the sprawling Barrie netminder West for a 2-0 Bulldogs lead. Donovan received his second assist of the contest, while Brown got credited for the secondary assist.

Bulldogs D Noah Van Vliet (5) tries to disrupt the pass from Barrie Colts C Cole Beaudoin (29) in the first period.

The Bulldogs outshot the Colts 13-5 after the first twenty minutes of play, which generated pressure on the offensive zone for a large portion of the period.

Early in the second period, Bulldogs defenceman Jorian Donovan made history at 2:56. Centreman Ben Bujold spun around the Colts defence near the blue line, made a short pass to Donovan, who stepped up and fired the puck on his knees past the glove side of West. With his 23rd career goal, Donovan surpassed Ben Gleason as the franchise’s all-time goal-scoring leader for a defenceman.

Bujold and left winger Marek Vanacker received the assists.

Bulldogs C Ben Bujold (89) locks up with Barrie Colts D Kashawn Aitcheson (77) in the first period.

The Colts got on the board less than two minutes later at 4:40. Colts centreman Cole Beaudoin seized the puck from Bulldogs defenceman Noah Van Vliet along the boards in the Colts attacking zone. Teammate Riley Patterson took the puck and made the pass to Taj York, whose shot was stopped by Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac, only for Beaudoin to jam the rebound past Drobac.

Barrie struck once more before the end of the period, this time on the powerplay. With four seconds remaining on the man advantage and the period, Colts defenceman Connor Punnett rifled the puck through a screen in front of the Bulldogs goal, only for right winger Roenick Jodin to tip the puck between the pads of Drobac. 

Bulldogs C Lawson Sherk (39) draws with Barrie Colts C Zach Wigle (9) in the faceoff circle early in the second period.

The Bulldogs were back on the powerplay less than thirty seconds into the third period. Bulldogs centreman Lawson Sherk won the faceoff, left winger Cole Brown grabbed the puck and made a sharp pass to defenceman Lucas Moore, who made the one-timer through the right side of Colts netminder Ben West for a 4-2 Bulldogs lead.

For most of the game, Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac has yet to see a lot of activity around the crease. But when the Colts made things interesting in the middle of the final frame as Bulldogs defenceman Jorian Donovan received the instigating and misconduct penalty, Drobac shined at the most crucial sequence. 

When the Bulldogs were on the five-on-three penalty kill for one minute and five seconds, the overage netminder made several critical saves, most notably a highlight-reeling pad save on the Colts’ Beau Jelsma with twenty-nine seconds left.

Bulldogs game crew and volunteers clean up the teddy bears on the ice in the first period.

Bulldogs would then ice the game with over two minutes remaining in the game as right winger Nick Lardis caused a turnover in the attacking zone, went to the net, and rifled the shot up close past the right side of West for his 25th goal of the season, 50th career goal as a Bulldog, and a 5-2 Bulldogs lead.  

The next home game for the Bulldogs is on Saturday, December 30, 2023, against the Barrie Colts.

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