The Bulldogs have a lot to be proud of after getting the 6-4 win against Rockford last night, they can be proud that they seem to be turning things around, they’ve now won 3 of their last 4 games and 4 of their last 6.
In two games without their leading goal scorer, Aaron Palushaj (who is now tied at 7 goals with Gallagher), they’ve scored 9 goals. Especially impressive considering how much they struggled to score early in the season. The Bulldogs also went perfect on the powerplay last night scoring on their only opportunity, another aspect they have struggled with this season.
It was a wild first period; there were 6 first period goals, 5 of those coming in the final 10 minutes of the frame. For the fifth time this season the Bulldogs opened the scoring. Joonas Nattinen was the recipient of a little puck luck as the puck bounced off the boards in front to Nattinen who buried it past Carter Hutton at the 4:00 minute mark.
The IceHogs evened the game at 11:58 when Ben Smith converted a Ryan Stanton rebound to tie the game at 1. The Bulldogs regained the lead 31 seconds later when Michael Blunden backhanded a Brendan Gallagher rebound for his 5th of the season. The lead would not last as a mere 12 seconds later Martin St. Pierre scored his 11th of the year to tie the game back at 2-2. The goal judge was getting a real work out last night as just 58 seconds later Brendan Gallagher scored a powerplay marker by snapping the puck from the slot. Nathan Beaulieu and Michael Bournival were awarded the assists.
The Bulldogs third lead of the game would once again be decimated at the 18:01 mark when Marcus Kruger banked the puck off a body in front of the net to beat Robert Mayer. The Bulldogs had the lead three times in the first but Rockford battled back to tie it every time, quite the change for the Bulldogs who are usually the team that has to battle back.
In the second period the Bulldogs retook the lead at 1:44 when Morgan Ellis unleashed a slap shot from the point for his second of the season. Bournival picked up his second assist of the game on the play, Stefan Chaput added an assist as well.
At around the midway point of the second Blunden put the Dogs up by 2 for the first time in the game. Blunden moved in against Hutton and made a simple deke before backhanded it past Hutton for his second of the game. Antoine Corbin picked up the assist on the play.
Martin St. Pierre would cut the Bulldogs lead to 1 at the 12:55 after snapping the puck past Mayer for his second of the game.
Gabriel Dumont added an empty netter in the third to clinch the win for the Bulldogs.
Michael Blunden was awarded first star after scoring two goals, including the game winner, and this was all on his 26th birthday.
The Bulldogs are now 5-0 when they score the first goal. It makes a big difference for them when they don’t have to pay with a disadvantage. Despite giving up 3 leads last night, they never trailed in the game.
1. HAM – Joonas Nattinen – 5 – 4:00
2. RFD – Ben Smith – 11 – (Brandon Saad, Ryan Stanton) 11:58
3. HAM – Mike Blunden – 5 – (Brendan Gallagher) – 12:29
4. RFD – Martin St. Pierre – 11 – (Adam Clendening, Jeremy Morin) – 12:41
5. HAM – Brendan Gallagher – 7 – (Nathan Beaulieu, Michael Bournival) – 13:38 (PP)
6. RFD – Marcus Kruger – 6 – (Martin St. Pierre, Nick Leddy) – 18:01 (PP)
7. HAM – Morgan Ellis – 2 – (Michael Bournival, Stefan Chaput) – 1:44
8. HAM – Mike Blunden – 6 – (Antoine Corbin) – 9:29
9. RFD – Martin St. Pierre – 12 – (Brandon Saad, Ryan Stanton) – 12:55
10. HAM – Gabriel Dumont – 4 – 19:47 (EN)
Rockford: Carter Hutton (L – 20 shots, 15 saves), Alec Richards (13 shots, 13 saves)
Hamilton: Robert Mayer (W – 26 shots, 22 saves)
1. HAM- Mike Blunden (2 goals, +1, 3 shots)
2. RFD- Martin St. Pierre (2 goals, 1 assist, +1, 5 shots)
3. HAM- Michael Bournival (2 assists, +3, 1 shot)