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Cowan and Knights shine in victory over Bulldogs

Brantford BulldogsCowan and Knights shine in victory over Bulldogs

Easton Cowan led the London Knights to a convincing 5-1 victory over the Brantford Bulldogs in Ontario Hockey League action on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.

The Knights left winger recorded a four-point night, two goals an two assists, as the Knights never trailed on their way to the easy 5-1 win, handing the Bulldogs their sixth loss of the season.

Knights C Easton Cowan protects the puck from Bulldogs RW Calvin Crombie while skating through the offensive zone.

The Knights came out quickly right out of the gate, outskating and outworking the Bulldogs as they spent the opening two minutes on the attack in Brantford’s zone. London continued to pressure the Bulldogs defence, forcing countless turnovers which led to several scoring chances before the game was four minutes old.

Bulldogs G Matteo Drobac kicks out his pad to make one of his eight first period saves against the London Knights.

The Knights had their first quality scoring chance after forcing a turnover at their own blueline, which led to a breakaway but Bulldogs goalie Matteo Drobac stood strong to keep the game tied at zero. London continued to attack and less than a minute later opened the scoring when defenceman Jackson Edward was left all alone in the slot and wired a slap shot top shelf past Drobac for the 1-0 lead.

Knights LW Jacob Julien tries to steal the puck from Bulldogs RW Cole Brown during first period action.

After allowing the opening goal, Brantford found their legs, responding with offensive zone pressure for the the next minute but couldn’t put the puck past Knights netminder Michael Simpson. The Bulldogs went on the powerplay but couldn’t get the equalizer then Cowan went on the attack after coming out of the box. He broke down the wing, drove hard to the net and beat Drobac for his first goal of the game.

Bulldogs G Matteo Drobac tracks the puck against the London Knights on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.

The Knights continues their aggressive forecheck in the back half of the period, winning almost every puck battle, leading to several scoring chances but Drobac kept his team in the game. In an effort to spark his team, Bulldogs LW Florian Xhekaj dropped the mitts with Knights RW Sawyer Boulton as the opening period came to a close with the visitors up 2-0.

Bulldogs LW Florian Xhekaj and Knights RW Sawyer Boulton drop the mitts in a spirited scrap at the end of the first period.
Bulldogs LW Florian Xhekaj and Knights RW Sawyer Boulton drop the mitts in a spirited scrap at the end of the first period.

Brantford started the second period on the penalty kill after Xhekaj was given an instigator penalty to end the first period. The Dogs killed it off and got one of their best scoring chances when LW Marek Vanacker had a partial, short-handed breakaway but couldn’t pull the trigger and get the Bulldogs on the board.

Bulldogs LW Marek Vanacker goes in for a partial breakaway during a penalty kill early in the second period.

Shortly after the kill, Brantford went on the powerplay but still couldn’t muster much offence. Less than a minute into the man advantage, Cowan took control, getting a short-handed breakaway and making a nice move around Drobac for his second goal on the night, giving the Knights a 3-0 lead early in the second. London continued to pour it on, adding their fourth goal four minutes later when RW Kasper Halttunen ripped a shot from the circle that beat Drobac.

Bulldogs LW Luca Testa fires a shot on goal against the London Knights.

The Bulldogs finally responded, buzzing around in the Knights zone for 90 seconds after going down 4-0 but couldn’t beat London’s defence. The Bulldogs pressure led to their third powerplay of the game after Edward was sent off for boarding and then Cowan was sent off for holding so the Bulldogs had a five-on-three powerplay for 1:21. The Bulldogs set up on the man advantage and a minute later finally beat Simpson when RW Nick Lardis ripped a shot short-side to get the Dogs on the board.

Knights LW Brody Crane and Bulldogs C Ben Bujold battle for the puck early in the third period.

The excitement was short-lived however as the Knights responded nine seconds after the second penalty expired as Halttunen scored his second of the night from Cowan, opening up a 5-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Both teams came out slowly to start the final frame, spending the first few minute battling in the neutral zone. Brantford tried to get back in the game while the Knights were happy to sit back and play defence. The teams traded chances down the stretch with London attacking off the rush and Brantford getting some offensive zone pressure but it was not enough as the Knights skated to the 5-1 victory.

Bulldogs D Jorian Donovan and Knights D Oliver Bonk battle behind the Bulldogs net late in the third period.

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