Hamilton was on the road in Utica this past Saturday following the teams 4-3 overtime victory at home against Rochester Friday night. Once again the Bulldogs would come away with the win but not without some late game struggles.
Maxime Macenauer would opening the scoring with his first goal of the year taking a pass from Akim Aliu and put it past Comets goalie Joacim Eriksson at 5:50 of the first period. The Bulldogs would keep their foot on the gas for the remainder of the period including a breakaway chance for Gabriel Dumont that forced Eriksson to make a split second save as the first period came to a close.
The second period was all about Louis Leblanc as he fired home his fourth goal of the season at 8:09 of the second period with the lone assist going to Sven Andrighetto. Less than two minutes after that Akim Aliu would break into the Comets zone to break up a potential icing and would put home his third goal of the year with assists going to Macenauer and Erik Nystrom.
The third period would not be as kind to Hamilton as Utica defensemen Peter Andersson would convert a feed from Pascal Pelletier and Benn Ferriero to put Utica on the board and break Dustin Tokarski's bid at a shutout. Tokarski would hold the fort until the last 5 minutes of the game when Comets forward Colin Stuart would wire home a shot that brought the Comets within a goal. The last minute saw Tokarski lose the puck in the blue paint then sprawl and cover it up with just 8.5 seconds left in the game to preserve the Hamilton win.
The positives from this game are the red hot play of Louis Leblanc and Sven Andrighetto as well as the hustle and effort of Akim Aliu. Leblanc *only* had one point tonight and Andrighetto collected another point to continue his stellar rookie campaign. Aliu collected his third goal of the year which was the game winner and an assist on Macenauer's opening goal. Tokarski was once again solid all night in net making 31 saves and none bigger than the one in the dying seconds of the game to solidify the win.
The negative once again the lack of discipline from Hamilton tonight as they gave up seven powerplays to Utica, thankfully Tokarski and the penalty killing unit would bail the team out. Also of concern is the team almost blowing another lead late in the game, it happened several times last season and a few times already this year...we can only hope this will be addressed soon by Sylvain Lefebvre.
However the biggest news out of tonight's victory is that for the first time in two years the Hamilton Bulldogs are in sole possession of first place in their division. Sole possession of first place will be on the line Sunday when the second "AHL Battle of Ontario" takes place this year when the Toronto Marlies visit Copps Coliseum to take on the Bulldogs
Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Dustin Tokarski
2nd Star: Akim Aliu
3rd Star: Benn Ferriero
The Bulldogs are 4-1-0-2 with the win and Utica falls to 0-5-0-1 on the season.
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- Montreal Canadiens scoring chances at the 10 game mark
- Louis Leblanc leads Hamilton to a second straight overtime win
- Montreal gives Saku Koivu a standing ovation