Monday Highlights: Bulldogs stay a step ahead of Hounds in high-scoring Game 3
ROGERS OHL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – GAME 3:
HAMILTON 6 – SAULT STE. MARIE 5
Hamilton leads series 2-1
The Soo Greyhounds opened the scoring just 1:55 into action, but that’s the last time they’d hold a lead in Game 3 as the Hamilton Bulldogs stayed one step ahead the rest of the way in a 6-5 victory before 7,349 at FirstOntario Centre.
The first Rogers OHL Championship Series matchup in Hamilton since 1978 didn’t disappoint as the Bulldogs sent their fans home happy, persevering through six consecutive penalty kills to close out the game with some timely saves from goaltender Kaden Fulcher.
“The crowd was huge for us,” said Bulldogs head coach John Gruden. “We had a really good start, I thought our pace was outstanding and five-on-five we’re a really good team but we got into some penalty trouble later on to make it quite interesting and we found a way, so that’s the good news.”
Hometown product Brandon Saigeon (15, 16) scored a pair of goals while New Jersey Devils prospect Marian Studenic (3) netted the eventual game winner with 2:58 remaining in the third period.
“I’m extremely proud to play here,” said Saigeon. “The fans were unbelievable, they really gave us a lot of energy. We played a good game tonight and if we stay disciplined like coach said, I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t be successful.”
Nicholas Caamano (7), Arthur Kaliyev (3) and Will Bitten (4) scored first period goals for Hamilton as the Bulldogs led 3-2 after one period. Ryan Moore and Riley Stillman both finished the night with three assists.
The Hounds played catch-up after Joe Carroll (1) opened the scoring inside the first two minutes of play. New York Rangers prospect Tim Gettinger (5, 6) scored twice while Jack Kopacka (11) lit the lamp and Morgan Frost (10) brought the Hounds within a goal with 1:32 left on the clock.
“We made way too many mistakes to expect to win a hockey game,” Greyhounds head coach Drew Bannister noted. “When you go on the road and score five goals you should expect to win and we have to clean up some stuff in our game if we’re going to have success in this series.”
Both clubs had 33 shots on goal as Sault Ste. Marie went 2-for-6 on the power play to Hamilton’s 1-for-2 mark.
The Bulldogs have won eight in a row at home and carry a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 back at FirstOntario Centre on Wednesday.
“I’m just so proud of these guys that they found a way in front of this great crowd here tonight because at this time of year there’s no consoloation prizes,” Gruden added. “You don’t get a prize for not winning the game. We won the game, we’re up 2-1 and now we have to get ready for Wednesday.”
The loss gives the Greyhounds more regulation losses in the playoffs than they had through the entire regular season schedule. They look to rebound on Wednesday and send the series back to Sault Ste. Marie all tied up.
“We have to do a better job of taking advantage of the opportunity we have here and recognizing as a group in our room that 40 minutes isn’t going to win you a hockey game when you’re playing in May in a Championship Series,” Bannister concluded.
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE: