THORNTON THE STORY AS BULLDOGS FALL 4-1 IN GAME 5
BARRIE, ONTARIO. After sweeping Games 3 & 4 at FirstOntario Centre, the Hamilton Bulldogs went back on the road to Sadlon Arena in Barrie for a pivotal Game 5 confrontation.
The Bullodgs carried over their heavy forecheck from Games 3 & 4 that carried them to successfully holding serve on home ice in Game 5, earning an early power-play that quickly paid off. With Artur Cholach in the box for cross-checking at 5:07, Lucas Moore held the puck at the top of the left circle moving it to the middle of the blueline for Jorian Donovan who, with a look to the middle of ice, opened up Nick Lardis in the right circle. With a perfect pass from the dynamic defenseman, Lardis lasered a shot past Anson Thornton to give the Bulldogs the 1-0 on Lardis’ 4th of the playoffs. The Colts bounced back heading to the middle stages of the opening frame through back-to-back power-plays. First at 7:52, the returning Brandt Clarke hammered a shot to the front of Matteo Drobac’s goal that was tipped by Jacob Frasca, recording his 3rd of the post-season, tying the game 1-1. Matteo Drobac stood up for his teammates, making a brilliant glove save on Beau Jelsma to keep the game all locked up 1-1. With the Colts back on the man-advantage at 9:30, Brandt Clarke from the middle of the line moved the puck to the left to Evan Vierling, with a slight toe drag shift around the block of Noah Van Vliet, changed the angle just enough to whip a shot past Drobac to give the Colts a 2-1 lead on Vierling’s 1st of the playoffs that held through to the first intermission.
The middle period witnessed a bit of controversy, just past the half-way point of the period, after the puck was long gone from the stick of Noah Nelson, Jacob Frasca slammed the Bulldogs forward from behind with a cross-check into the Colts’ bench boards. The hit left Nelson down on the ice, needing to be helped to the locker room by the Bulldogs staff. While the Bulldogs bench appealed for a 5-minute major or at least a review of the hit, it was ruled as just a 2-minute cross-checking minor, leaving the Bulldogs without Nelson’s services the rest of the way. Matteo Drobac continued his brilliant run in goal, on a Colts 2-on-1, Chris Grisolia found himself wide open, starring at what appeared to be an empty Bulldogs net only to have the netminder make a scintillating split save to keep the Bulldogs down by just a goal. Anson Thornton kept his net quiet, keeping the Colts ahead 2-1 to the 2nd intermission, highlighted by a breakaway stop late in the middle frame on Lawson Sherk who stole the puck from the Colts defense and raced into the Barrie zone only to be denied as Thornton dragged his left pad to deny Sherk’s cross-body shot.
Into the final frame, the Bulldogs put on a furious press, led by a dogged forecheck which forced the Colts at one point into 5 straight icings inside of a 30 second period. Despite being down a forward, the Bulldogs makeshift lines earned their share of opportunities with Nick Lardis coming the closest, having a puck bounce through a crowd in the Colts crease but had his shot deflected by a Colts defender away from goal. In the dying moments, Florian Xhekaj, trying to work the puck loose in the left-wing corner was drilled from behind at a dangerous length from the boards but play merely rolled along. With the Bulldogs net empty at 18:32, a dump in landed on the blade of Brandt Clarke who tossed it right down the rink into the open goal to give the Colts a 3-1 on his 4th of the playoffs. The Bulldogs pressed once more but had the pressure ended by Anson Thornton, who stopped 24 of 25 in the game fire the puck into the Bulldogs empty net for the rare goalie goal, finishing a 4-1 Barrie Colts win in Game 5.
The Hamilton Bulldogs return home for Game 6, facing elimination, at FirstOntario Centre on Monday April 10th, with puck drop at 7:00pm
For more information on Hamilton Bulldogs 2023 Playoff tickets call 905-529-8500 or visit hamiltonbulldogs.com.