The Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the 1st place Peterborough Petes with a decisive 7-3 victory at FirstOntario Centre Saturday night.

Combine that with an Oshawa 3-2 win in Kingston, it’s now been confirmed that the Bulldogs will face the Frontenacs in the first round of the O-H-L playoffs.

Marian Studenic (18) danced his way through all five Peterborough players and picked the top corner on the backhand to give the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead at the 1:40 mark. Matt Luff picked up the only assist. The Bulldogs power-play went to work, with Matt Luff (20) wiring one home to extend the Bulldogs lead to 2-0. Matthew Strome and Ben Gleason set up the play.

Michael Cramarossa (20) picked the short-side corner just :16 seconds into the 2nd period to give Hamilton a 3-0 lead. Will Bitten and Ben Gleason picked up the helpers. Niki Petti (20) sent a rocket past Dylan Wells from the slot to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead. Connor Walters and Matt Luff assisted on Petti’s goal. Wells’ night was done as he was replaced by Scott Smith in the Peterborough net. That didn’t seem to bother the Bulldogs as Will Bitten (21) finished off a picture perfect cross crease feed from Michael Cramarossa to put the Bulldogs ahead 5-0. Brandon Saigeon got the 2nd assist. The Petes would get one back with 33.9 seconds remaining in the period to make it 5-1 Hamilton after forty minutes.

The Bulldogs power-play struck again early in the 3rd, with Matt Luff (21) burying his 2nd goal of the game to make it 6-1. Niki Petti and Matthew Strome were credited with the assists. Peterborough would add two goals in the back half of the 3rd before Matt Luff (22) completed the hat-trick at the 15:37 mark to make the final score 7-3. Niki Petti picked up the only assist.

The Peterborough goal scorers were Steve Lorentz (20), Josh Coyle (11), and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (8).

The Bulldogs out-shot the Petes 41-25 as Kaden Fulcher was solid picking up his 18th win of the season.

Hamilton is now 3-1-1 vs Peterborough with the season series wrapping up next Thursday in the Liftlock city.

Matt Luff’s 5-point performance clinched 1st star honours. 2nd star went to Niki Petti, who had a goal and 2 assists. Michael Cramarossa notched a goal and an assist to earn the 3rd star.

The Bulldogs season record improves to 31-25-4-4 while on home ice they are now 15-12-3-3.

With the Hamilton win and Kingston’s loss, the Bulldogs grab back sole possession of 4th place in the Eastern Conference standings, one point ahead of the Frontenacs.

The Bulldogs play their final regular season home game against the Ottawa 67’s on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm, which also happens to be Fan Appreciation Day at FirstOntario Centre.

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