LOMBARDI TALLIES THREE POINTS AS FIREBIRDS DEFEAT BULLDOGS
HAMILTON, ONTARIO. The Hamilton Bulldogs were back at home this Thursday hosting the Flint Firebirds for the first time in 1,084 days. The Bulldogs blueline got a boost heading into the game as Noah Van Vliet returned to the lineup for the first time since January 7th due to injury.
It only took :55 seconds of the opening frame for Sahil Panwar and Patrick Thomas to make some magic, as Panwar skated the puck into the offensive zone on the left side and fed Thomas out front with a beautiful spinning pass, Thomas accepted it on his backhand, doing his own spin-o-rama move bringing to his forehand and snapping it past Flint netminder Will Cranley to open the scoring, earning his 14th of the season and giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. The game got chippy as the opening frame trickled on, with both teams trying to earn the upper hand in the physical department, highlighted by Florian Xhekaj throwing a pair of thunderous body checks on the offensive zone boards. Matteo Drobac picked up where he left off on the road trip, denying Zacharie Giroux of a point-blank cross crease opportunity to keep the Bulldogs ahead 1-0. With six minutes remaining in the period, Braeden O’Keefe shook off his defender and ripped the puck on net as Will Cranley just got enough with his shoulder keeping Flint within a shot of tying the game. Flint got on the board with 1:31 in the period, with Red Wings prospect Amadeus Lombardi rushing to the net after the offensive zone faceoff and receiving a pass from Giroux to tie the game at 1-1 on Lombardi’s 26th goal of the season, sending the game to the intermission tied.
In the opening minutes of the second period, Marek Vanacker wowed the crowd carrying the puck end to end dancing around two Firebirds in the process but couldn’t solve Cranley with the game remaining deadlocked. Mere moments later, Sahil Panwar earned two quality chances that Cranley was also able to turn aside. Hamilton earned the first powerplay of the game 6:38 into the second with Nolan Dann going off for tripping. It was Flint that capitalized shorthanded however, after a mishandled puck sent Simon Slavicek on a breakaway and snapped it blocker side for his 6th of the season, giving Flint their first lead of the evening 2-1 at 7:45. The Firebirds added to their lead just over a minute later at 8:52, as Riley Piercey skated to the top of the offensive zone, turned and fired it passed a screened Drobac for his 13th of the season, to make it 3-1 for the visitors. With the Firebirds continuing to press in the middle frame, Nolan Dann sent a one-timer from Gavin Hayes just under the crossbar beating Drobac, making it 4-1 for the Firebirds at 14:45 on Dann’s 10th of the season. The second period came to an end with the Bulldogs completing a successful penalty kill but needed some positive momentum in the third to try and climb back into the game.
The first half of the final frame was kept relatively quiet with the Firebirds trying to stifle and opportunities the Bulldogs could muster moving forward. Flint got back to the man advantage just prior to the midway point of the frame, but the Bulldogs improving penalty kill once again was equal to the task. With the game back to even strength at 14:21, Amadeus Lombardi turned from the bottom of the left circle and fired and off angle shot that rode the back of Matteo Drobac and dropped just behind the Bulldogs goaltender over the goal line for Lombardi’s 2nd of the game and 27th of the season giving the Firebirds a 5-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The game ended on a sour note with Bulldogs defenseman Lucas Moore being sent out of the game on a match penalty for slew-footing at 16:38 as the Bulldogs fell to the Firebirds 5-1.
The Bulldogs are back at it this Saturday, January 28th, hosting former captain Logan Morrison in his return to FirstOntario Centre with the Ottawa 67s for a 4:00pm puck drop.
For more information on Hamilton Bulldogs 2022-23 Flex packages or single game tickets call 905-529-8500 or visit hamiltonbulldogs.com