Sunday Highlights: Fulcher stands tall, Nurse steps up as Bulldogs take 3-0 lead
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – GAME 3:
HAMILTON 3 – KINGSTON 1
(HAM leads series 3-0)
Ben Gleason (3) scored just 1:16 into the first period and it looked as though the Hamilton Bulldogs were going to run wild again in Game 3 on Sunday. The Kingston Frontenacs tightened things up though, making a real game of things before the Bulldogs pulled away in the third period to take a 3-1 road win and with it, a 3-0 series stranglehold.
The highly competitive game saw goaltenders Kaden Fulcher and Jeremy Helvig trade highlight reel saves before Hamilton’s Isaac Nurse (7) buried a rebound for the game winner 5:50 into the final frame as the Bulldogs took full control of the series.
The Frontenacs poured on the pressure out of desperation in the third period, outshooting the Bulldogs 11-7 but goaltender Kaden Fulcher held his ground, backstopping Hamilton to victory before a crowd of 4,432 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.
“Kaden has been outstanding,” said Bulldogs head coach John Gruden. “He really stepped up in the Niagara series and he has been playing with a lot of confidence ever since. He really looked sharp out there tonight.”
Fulcher stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced while Brandon Saigeon (12) added an empty net goal. His 12 goals are the second-most in the OHL Playoffs thus far.
“I’ve gotta hand it to guys like Saigeon, Justin Lemcke, Riley Stillman and Robby Thomas who have battled consistently against Kingston’s top players and held them in check,” Gruden noted. “It was huge for our guys to stick it out tonight and like I said, Fulcher was outstanding.”
Ryan Cranford (4) scored the lone Kingston goal as the Frontenacs came up just short despite having surges of momentum throughout the game.
“We made it a hockey game tonight. That’s not what we’re looking for, we’re looking to win hockey games,” said Frontenacs head coach Jay Varady.
“We’re in the playoffs, you’ve got to have faith,” he added, looking ahead to an elimination situation in Game 4 at home on Tuesday. “Until you lose four games you’re still in it. We’re gonna go back at it tomorrow and we’re going to be ready for our next game.”
Hamilton’s Marian Studenic had a pair of assists in the win while Ryan Moore extended his current point streak to 12 games with an assist of his own.
Hamilton looks to close out the series and advance to its first OHL Championship Series appearance with a win on Tuesday. The Frontenacs will be fighting for their playoff lives before what’s sure to be an engaged Kingston crowd when the puck drops at 7:00pm.
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE: