PANWAR POWERS BULLDOGS OVER FRONTS IN 5-3 VICTORY
HAMILTON, ONTARIO. Looking to bounce back from a pair of defeats the Hamilton Bulldogs hosted the 2nd of their 5-game homestand on Sunday afternoon, welcoming the Kingston Frontenacs for their penultimate visit of the season.
The opening frame was controlled by the netminders as Tristan Malboeuf faced down an early onslaught from the Frontenacs. Starting with a power-play opportunity at 2:48, Kingston fired 12 shots to Malboeuf’s goal in the frame, with half coming from inside the tops of the circles, all of which the Bulldogs’ netminder denied. At the other end of the rink, Ivan Zhigalov wasn’t quite as busy through the opening 20-minutes of action but had to turn aside 8 Hamilton shots with three coming from point blank position in the slot. Heading to the first intermission the game remained where it started, scoreless as the two teams, jockeying for playoff positioning, kept their opposition quiet.
The game opened up in the middle frame with the hosts striking first. At 2:38, Cedricsson Okitundu knocked down a clearing attempt on his backhand at the right point, twisting his wrists to get the puck along the line to Noah Roberts. The defenseman dusted it off and whistled a wrist shot through traffic in front of Zhigalov where Braeden O’Keefe deflected the shot into the Kingston goal for his 4th of the season, giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Kingston quickly struck back after Alec Belanger had an initial opportunity denied at the side of Malboeuf’s net, the puck returned to the Fronts defenseman, turned forward, where he banked a shot off Malboeuf from below the goal line and in for his 3rd of the year at 3:38, tying the game 1-1. The visitors nosed ahead shortly after, at 4:13, Linus Hemstrom found Gabriel Frasca behind the Hamilton goal who set the play to the slot for a Maddox Callens one-timer giving the Frontenacs a 2-1 lead. The Bulldogs countered at 5:16 with Sahil Panwar collecting the puck into neutral ice and turning past three Kingston defenders on the right wing side where he saucered the puck between the hashmarks for Nick Lardis. The Bulldogs sniper had his initial shot blocked but collected his own rebound to fire past Zhigalov, tying the game 2-2 on his 29th of the season. Hamilton took the lead 8:01 as Florian Xhekaj applied heavy pressure on the Kingston defense, forcing an offensive zone turn over, handling the puck from skate to stick, Xhekaj zipped a pass to Adrian Rebelo who quickly fired his opportunity past Zhigalov to collect his 5th of the season putting the Bulldogs up 3-2. Kingston answered before the period was out with an excellent triangular passing play from Gage Heyes & Jacob Battaglia along with Paul Hughes who started the play and finished it at the side of the Hamilton net for 7th of the season at 11:13, sending the game to the locker rooms once again tied up 3-3.
The Bulldogs pulled away for good in the final frame, beginning at 7:47 with Marek Vanacker getting the puck to Nick Lardis just outside the right circle of the offensive zone, the sniper became the set-up man hitting a rotating Sahil Panwar in front of Zhigalov for his 20th of the season, initially waived off, the play was reviewed and correctly ruled a goal to put the Bulldogs up 4-3. Kingston pressed with 11 shots in the final frame, but it wasn’t enough as with the net empty at 18:56, Tristan Malboeuf knocked down a Fronts dump-in and fired the puck off glass where Sahil Panwar skated it down the rink and tucked it into the empty net assuring the Bulldogs a 5-3 win and an important pair of points in a crowded playoff picture.
The Bulldogs return on Monday afternoon as they host the Kitchener Rangers, for the first time since 2020, in a Family Day matinee. The puck drops at 2:00pm at FirstOntario Centre.
For more information on Hamilton Bulldogs 2022-23 Season Ticket packages call 905-529-8500 or visit hamiltonbulldogs.com