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Bulldogs pound the IceDogs on fan appreciation night

Brantford BulldogsBulldogs pound the IceDogs on fan appreciation night

In front of 3,147 fans, the hometown Brantford Bulldogs showed their appreciation with a convincing 7-1 win over the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

Before the game, the Bulldogs held a pregame ceremony honouring their overagers Lawson Sherk, Matteo Drobac, and Daniil Sobolev. 

The IceDogs were looking to spoil the party, and they got off to a good start in the first period. On the four-on-three at 2:33, right winger Mike Levin passed the puck to centreman Alex Assadourian, skating with the puck to the centre area, and fired a shot past the left side of Bulldogs netminder David Egorov for a 1-0 lead.

At 3:09, Niagara was looking for more with the breakaway by defenceman Ryan Vannetten, but the Bulldogs netminder Egorov made a great pad save to keep the game at 1-0. In the first six minutes, the IceDogs outshot their conference rival 6-1.

Brantford would then put the offensive pressure with seven shots in two minutes, but IceDogs netminder Owen Flores kept the door shut, including a highlight-reel stop on Bulldogs centreman Florian Xhekaj.

Bulldogs G David Egorov stretches out for a save opportunity late in the first period.

But the Bulldogs found paydirt with 9:58 left. Defenceman Owen Protz fired the puck through a crowded front of the IceDogs goal, only for the puck to be tipped last by left winger Marek Vanacker, and it went past Flores. This was Vanacker’s 36th goal of the season, with Protz (13) and centreman Jake O’Brien (49) getting the assists.

The Bulldogs took the lead for the first time with 4:34 left in the opening frame. On the power play, left winger Patrick Thomas set up the play with an efficient passing to right winger Zakary Lavoie, who then made a sharp pass to the wide-open O’Brien, who made no mistake. Lavoie (25) and Thomas (43) received credit for the assist on O’Brien’s 12th goal of the season.

Despite allowing the game-opening goal, Bulldogs netminder Egorov was excellent between the pipes in the first twenty minutes. IceDogs netminder Flores was great between the pipes as well, stopping 15 of 17 shots on goal.

Bulldogs LW Patrick Thomas steers the puck past IceDogs D Artem Frolov in the second period.

As the second period unfolded, the IceDogs got into penalty trouble, and the Bulldogs made them pay. At 2:48, centreman Jake O’Brien found and delivered a great cross-ice feed to the right winger Lavoie, who fooled the IceDogs netminder Flores up close, notching his 31st of the season. O’Brien (50) notched his third point of the night with the assist, while Xhekaj (27) got the other assist.

The Bulldogs continued their onslaught over two minutes later. This time, it’s the fourth line of Joshua Avery, Noah Nelson, and Luca Testa, with the latter notching his 14th of the year. Nelson (11) and Avery (3) with the assists.

Then with 9:13 remaining in the middle frame, the Bulldogs would add one more. Team captain Lawson Sherk added his name to the scoresheet with a nice breakaway goal after Protz caused the turnover from the neutral zone. It was Sherk’s eleventh of the season, while Protz notched his 14th assist of the year, eighth as a Bulldog.

The period subsided with the Bulldogs in a commanding lead through forty minutes of play.

Bulldogs G David Egorov makes the glove save in the third period.

The first half of the final period was more subdued from a goal-scoring perspective, but the home team was not done as the period shifted to the final ten minutes. 

With 7:38 remaining, the Bulldogs engaged in a three-on-one that ended with right winger Cole Brown scoring his 16th of the season. This was Brown’s sixth straight game with a goal, while Xhekaj (28) and Testa (10) were credited with the assists. 

Bulldogs would add one more with 90 seconds remaining, courtesy of the utility man Adrian Rebelo scoring his sixth of the season and becoming the seventh different Bulldog to score in the game. Right winger Calvin Crombie (12) and centreman Nelson (12) tallied an assist on Rebelo’s goal.

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