HAMILTON, ONTARIO. The Hamilton Bulldogs played host to the Barrie Colts for Game 3 of their opening round playoff series. The Bulldogs were in search of their first victory of the series, dropping a 6-3 decision to the Colts in Game 2 just a night prior.

The game started off with Florian Xhekaj being ejected on a somewhat controversial call for a head check on Brandt Clarke. Tyler Savard joined the fray, instigating a fight with Florian Xhekaj that led to the game going 4-on-4 for 2-minutes followed by 3-minutes of major power-play time for the Colts. In the 4-on-4, Artem Grushnikov opened the scoring, blasting a shot from the point that hit a Colts’ stick & eluded Anson Thornton giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the series at 6:56. As Callum Chisholm stepped out of the box, he grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on the left side, wiring the puck up and over the shoulder of Matteo Drobac tying the game at 1-1 at 14:11. Mere moments later, Braden Hache hammered a shot from the point deflected by Jacob Frasca, fooling Matteo Drobac and giving Barrie a 2-1 lead at 15:19. The Bulldogs did not let adversity get them down. 58 seconds after the Colts took the lead, Adrian Rebelo cleaned up the rebound of a Nick Lardis shot tying the game back up at 2-2 for his 2nd, of the playoffs at 16:17, sending the game to the intermission all locked up.

The Bulldogs went back to the power-play just under 5 minutes into the middle frame as Savard was sent off for a holding minor. Hamilton pressured but weren’t able to muster many chances in the danger zones and the game remained tied at 2-2. At 10:57, Lawson Sherk hopped off the Hamilton bench and hollered to Nick Lardis for a pass who obliged. Sherk carried the puck down the right side beating his defenseman and while making a nifty move to the front of the net, tucked it through the five-hole of Thornton for a highlight reel goal. Cole Brown built off that momentum just 17 seconds later, finishing off a tremendous Noah Van Vliet right-wing rush, doubling Hamilton’s lead just over halfway through the game to 4-2 at 11:15. Barrie looked to respond quickly, and Evan Vierling found himself alone net front with the puck but Matteo Drobac said no, committing larceny and flashing the glove keeping his team in front by a pair. At 13:22, the Colts inched closer as Callum Chisholm backhanded the puck through the five-hole of Drobac to make it a 4-3 contest. Minutes later, Brandt Clarke was whistled for kneeing Lawson Sherk, earning a 5-minute major and a game misconduct in the process. After a brief absence, Lawson Sherk did return to the game. Nick Lardis was sprung on a partial breakaway on the man advantage, but the glove of Anson Thornton was a little too quick, making a brilliant stop of his own. With 40-minutes in the books, the Bulldogs held the 4-3 lead.

Barrie increased the pressure in the final frame, looking to take a stranglehold on the series. A 2-on-1 opportunity led to Evan Vierling sending a dart off the crossbar. Shortly after, Anson Thornton had to make 2 huge stops off the stick of Marek Vanacker to keep his team within 1. With just over 6 minutes remaining Thornton had to come up big once again, getting his arm in front of a Nick Lardis laser. With 1:45 left, Thornton skated to the bench for the extra attacker. However, the puck ended up on the stick of Artem Grushnikov who deposited it all the way down the ice, on a 185 foot shot, into the empty cage for his 2nd of the game, increasing the Bulldogs lead to 5-3 with 1:28 left. Grushnikov completed the hattrick with another empty netter, a near mirror image of the first, with 6 seconds on the clock sealing the game by a score of 6-3 and getting the Bulldogs back into the series.

Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals takes place on Tuesday night, April 4th with at FirstOntario Centre with a 7:00pm puck drop.

For more information on Hamilton Bulldogs 2023 playoff tickets call 905-529-8500 or visit

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