With a record of 5-4-1 in the last ten contests, the Brantford Bulldogs faced off with the Guelph Storm on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.
The home side came out strong in the opening twenty minutes. Bulldogs’ offence generated a flurry of scoring opportunities. The first opportunity came just 70 seconds into the game, as team captain Lawson Sherk and left winger Florian Xhekaj were on a 2-on-1 breakaway, only to be stopped by Guelph Storm netminder Brayden Gillespie.
Another opportunity came less than a minute later at the 2:08 mark as Bulldogs defenseman Callum Cheynowski’s shot from the blue line led to left winger Luca Testa and centreman Noah Nelson jamming the puck, but it was denied again by the Storm netminder.
The Bulldogs put solid pressure on their attacking zone for most of the period. For over 19 minutes, the Bulldogs couldn’t solve the reigning OHL Goaltender of the Month.
With only 34 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs’ solid offensive effort paid dividends. Defenseman Jorian Donovan causes turnover in the Bulldogs zone, skates down centre ice, and dishes the puck to right winger Calvin Crombie, who then passes over to right winger Nick Lardis, leading to Lardis shooting a laser past Gillespie for his 9th goal of the season. With the goal, Lardis extended his goal-scoring streak to three games. Crombie and Donovan were both credited with the assists.
As the period concluded, the shots on goal were 12-4 in favour of the Bulldogs. Guelph didn’t register their first shot until 8:55 into the period. Bulldogs’ starting netminder David Egorov was relatively quiet in the opening frame, saving all four Storm shots on goal.
Bulldogs continued to click on all cylinders in the second period. The goal barrage started at 3:25, as Crombie passed to Cole Brown, who shot the puck, which bounced off Gillespie. Luca Testa capitalized on the rebound to increase the Brantford lead by a pair. It was Testa’s fifth goal of the season, with Brown getting the primary assist. Crombie’s second assist of the contest was credited as the secondary on the Testa goal.
Then it was Donovan’s turn to light up the goal lamp. The first one came at the 6:20 marker. Nelson fed the puck to Testa, who then delivered a great pass to Donovan with a wide-open shot past the right pad of an unsuspected Gillespie for a 3-0 lead. Testa got his second point of the game with the assist, while Nelson received the secondary assist.
Less than a minute later, Donovan struck again with his second goal of the night at 7:13 of the second period. Left winger Marek Vanacker made a great pass to Donovan from the left corner of the Bulldogs’ attacking zone, who made it count after the initial shot was stopped by Gillespie, going top shelf past the Storm netminder for a commanding 4-0 Bulldogs lead.
In 53 seconds, the Ottawa Senators prospect doubled his season goal total. Vanacker and centreman Patrick Thomas received credit with the assists. Despite the strong outing by the Bulldogs offence, the strong Guelph Storm wouldn’t go away.
With over six minutes remaining, the Storm began their comeback. Just over sixty seconds remaining on a four-on-four, Storm’s Brenden Bowman grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, headed to the Bulldogs zone, and ripped the puck past the netminder Egorov glove side to open the scoring for the visitors.
The Storm would then cut the Bulldogs lead to two less than a minute later when forward Max Namestinkov caught Egorov out to his left and buried one wide open on the right side of the crease. Guelph added one more before the end of the period as Brayden Bowman scored his second of the game with 20 seconds left. The officials initially waived the goal, but it was changed after a lengthy review at the end of the period.
Although the Storm made things interesting in the final five minutes, the Bulldogs dominated the shots-on-goal category, outshooting the visitors 26-8 through 40 minutes.
The Storm wasted no time to complete the comeback in the third period. With 58 seconds remaining on the powerplay, Namestinkov struck again with his second goal, going top-shelf past Egorov for the tying goal. After the goal, Egorov was relieved in the net by Matteo Drobac. Egorov surrendered four goals in ten shots.
The game remained tied through the end of regulation and 3-on-3 overtime period. In the shootout, Storm’s right winger Jeff Luchanko scored the lone goal, giving the Guelph Storm the thrilling victory on the road.
With the loss, the Bulldogs dropped to 4-6-2 on the season. The next home game for the Bulldogs is Friday, November 10, 2023 against the Niagara Ice Dogs.