HAMILTON, ONTARIO. The Hamilton Bulldogs pushed the best junior hockey team in Canada to their limit on Friday night, keeping the game tied until just under 6-minutes remained. Two points a piece from each of Logan Morrison, Liam Van Loon and Cameron Supryka was nearly enough to push the Bulldogs past the Ottawa 67’s before Marco Rossi would record 3 points in the last 5:52 to give Ottawa their 38th win of the year.
Opening the first period against the top-rated team in Canada from Ottawa, it took the Hamilton Bulldogs a few minutes to get their feet underneath them which the 67’s would capitalize on. At 4:55, Kevin Bahl rotated the puck at the top of the right circle for Joseph Garreffa who would pull the puck along the blueline and fire a shot, deflected by Austen Keating past Marco Costantini for his 22nd of the season to make it 1-0. With the Bulldogs trailing 7-1 in shots through the first half dozen minutes, the team came to life and flipped the ice in the first period and at 7:48 it would pay off. Logan Morrison would shovel the puck from the left corner to the left point to Cameron Supryka who would fire a shot, tipped by Liam Van Loon for his 2nd of the year at 7:48. At 12:06 the Bulldogs would take the lead, as Liam Van Loon would feed Cameron Supryka at the left point, Supryka would walk down into the circle feeding along to Logan Morrison who showed brilliant patience to out wait Cedric Andree and score through the five-hole to make it 2-1, giving Morrison his 20th of the season. By the end of the opening period, the Bulldogs had equaled the shots on goal 9-9 having outshot the 67’s 8-2 through the later 14 minutes of the first period.
The only goal of the second period would go the way of the Ottawa 67’s as just after Jan Mysak had a chance that went just over the net on the backhand, Daylon Groulx would carry the puck the other way across the Hamilton line and beat Marco Costatini under his arm to tie the game 2-2 at 7:20 of the period. Marco Costantini would make a couple tremendous saves in the second frame to keep the score tied, splitting across the goal to steal one from Marco Rossi to highlight his frame. Hamilton would hold a 20-19 shots on goal advantage through 40 minutes but an 0-for-4 on the power-play showed just how tough it is to score goals on this 67’s team.
The Bulldogs found themselves tested in the third period with a 5-minute major penalty to Liam Van Loon and the league’s best power-play on the ice, Hamilton was able to defy the numbers and escape the danger without allowing a power-play goal in 4:30, before Isaac Nurse would draw a high-sticking call. With the game 4-on-4 and the Bulldogs just seconds from heading to the power-play, Noel Hoefenmayer would take the puck at the top of the offensive formation and throw a shot towards goal that would be tipped by Marco Rossi into the bottom corner of the Hamilton net at 14:08 to give Ottawa the 3-2 lead, one which they would not relinquish. Just under two minutes later with the Bulldogs pressing, Rossi would turn the puck the other way and leave it in the left-wing circle of the Hamilton zone for Nikita Okhotyuk to record his 2nd of the year at 15:56 giving the 67’s insurance before Jack Quinn would hit an empty net at 19:29 to give the 67’s the 5-2 win despite a great effort from the hometown Bulldogs.
The Hamilton Bulldogs will return to action hosting the Niagara IceDogs in Round 5 of the K9Cup Series on Saturday, February 1st, at 4:00pm before closing out the weekend on the road in Oshawa to take on the Generals on Sunday, February 2nd at 2:05pm.