The Hamilton Bulldogs will host their first and only home game of the pre-season on Tuesday night, September 20th, with a 7:00pm puck drop at Morgan Firestone Arena in Ancaster squaring off with the QEW rival Niagara IceDogs. With excitement high on the road towards the new OHL season, Bulldogs fans will get their first looks at an impressive class of rookies that won’t take long to notice.

Up Front Impact

Tuesday night at Morgan Firestone Arena presents the first opportunity for Hamilton fans to get a look at the next generation of impact players for the Bulldogs with the likes of Marek Vanacker, Adrian Rebelo, Florian Xhekaj & Masen Wray expected to play large roles. Vanacker, drafted in the 1st round (23rd overall), suited up for both Bulldogs’ early September games over Labour Day weekend in Erie firing home his first goal in Black & Gold. A gifted offensive player with a physical edge and already well-rounded 200-foot game, the Delhi product, wearing #78, will be someone to keep an eye on Tuesday night. Adrian Rebelo & Florian Xhekaj each bring a great story to their first Bulldogs “home game”. Rebelo, who will dawn #74 as a Bulldog, was a 10th round pick (189th overall) in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection Draft who has earned his opportunity through stand out performances with the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs and Brantford 99ers. In his first two games over Labour Day weekend, Rebelo recorded a pair of goals to generate a lot of buzz around the young Hamilton product. Fellow Hamilton product Florian Xhekaj arrived with his hometown club as an undrafted free agent, much like older brother and 2022 OHL Champion Arber Xhekaj, and has already made his presence felt. Another Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs graduate, Xhekaj went on to lead the Pelham Panthers in scoring in the 2021-22 season. Scoring a goal in just his second game as a Bulldog against Saginaw on Labour Day weekend, Xhekaj also brings an intimidating physical presence and Bulldogs fans will quickly notice #43. All the way from North Bay, Masen Wray comes to Hamilton all the way from North Bay, the son of OHL graduate and 15-year professional Scott Wray, the younger Wray was selected in the 3rd round (49th overall) in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection Draft impressed for his all-around game over his first two exhibition games. Recording an assist, it was Wray’s prowess at the dot that really stood out, winning 9 of 15 faceoffs he took in his first two games at the OHL level. The Northern Ontario standout wearing #17 in Hamilton will look right at home when he takes the ice in front of Bulldogs fans for the first time.

Young Blueline, Veteran Presence

Bulldogs fans have been treated to a tremendous pipeline of defensive talent dating right back to the 2015-16 season. Be it defensive stalwarts like captains Lemcke & Kammerer, physical forces of nature like Stillman & Xhekaj or an incredible run of gifted offensive defenders from Gleason & Landry to Staios & White. Last season Bulldogs fans saw the likes of Jorian Donovan, Noah Van Vliet, Lucas Moore & Noah Roberts all break into the OHL and make impressions on the road to the 2022 OHL Championship. On Tuesday, Bulldogs fans will hopefully see the next in the outstanding tradition of Hamilton defenceman with Callum Cheynowski. Drafted in the 3rd round (63rd overall) in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Cheynowski is coming off a season where he moved from the U16AAA to the GOJHL and dominated as an underage player. Wearing #71, Cheynowski made his pre-season debut suiting up for both games in Erie and looked immediately like a multi-year veteran. Poised and skilled with an edge to his game, the Welland product will take his chance to make a first impression at Morgan Firestone on Tuesday night.

While Season Ticket Holders entry to the game at Morgan Firestone Arena is free, you can purchase tickets at the arena prior to the game at 7:00pm to see these young Bulldogs join the Black & Gold for the first time on home ice!

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