The Hamilton Bulldogs came into Rochester bolstered by the return of Christian Thomas and the phenomenal play of CCM player of the week Dustin Tokarski. However from the outset the Bulldogs were not the team I saw play a few nights before against Syracuse.
Rochester would head to the powerplay early as Steve Quailer was serving a hooking penalty and the Bulldogs 6th ranked penalty kill would be up to the task again and keep the score level until Kevin Porter took a pass from Jamie Tardif and got in behind the Bulldogs defense and slid it five hole on Tokarski to make it 1-0. Nothing else of note took place in the first outside of Nick Tarnasky attempting to draw Patrick Kaleta into a fight after Kaleta fell down trying to lay a hit.
The second period would be one to forget for Hamilton as less than 3 minutes in Tardif was sprung by Phil Varone on a shorthanded breakaway and the Amerks forward would go high glove side on Tokarski for a 2-0 lead. Morgan Ellis would draw the Dogs back within one goal with a fantastic individual effort at at 11:15 of the period. Ellis took the puck out of the defensive zone rushed it up the ice skated around the net dishing it off to Christian Thomas who would pass it back to Martin St. Pierre who dished it to Ellis behind the net who cut in front dangled around Kaleta and ripped it top shelf for his 2nd goal of the year. With less than 5 minutes to go in the 2nd period the Amerks headed to the powerplay due to Michael Blunden sitting for cross checking. 2013 1st round draft pick Rasmus Ristolainen shattered the Bulldogs penalty kill streak with a howitzer from the point that put the Amerks up 3-1.
If the second period was one to forget then the third is something worse(I swear I had something for this). Just 53 seconds in to the final frame Thomas would convert a Steve Qualier pass into his 2nd goal of the season. However tonight was apparently not the night for Hamilton as Kevin Porter took a Varone pass on a 5 on 3 powerplay and put his 2nd goal of the night past Tokarski. Three minutes later with Maxime Macenauer sitting for high sticking Johan Larsson would score his first goal of the year and effectively put the game out of reach. Out of reach that is until St. Pierre took a Nathan Beaulieu pass and slid it past Nathan Lieuwen to bring the Bulldogs within 2 late in the game. With Jarome Gauthier-Leduc sitting for the 4th delay of game penalty of the period the Bulldogs pulled Tokarski in an attempt to pull off a last minute comeback but it was not to be as Ristolainen would corral the puck and fire and long wrister down the ice into the empty net to seal the Amerks 6-3 win.
The main theme of the night for Hamilton was their in ability to stop the Amerks 4th ranked powerplay that was bolstered by the likes of Johan Larsson, Joel Armia and the aforementioned Ristolainen. The Bulldogs had killed 21 consecutive penalties before Ristolainen broke the streak in the 2nd period.
Michael Blunden echoed these sentiments after the game stating
"Rochester had a lot of good guys out there tonight and they took advantage of their chances while we missed a few of our own"
"Our penalty kill had to be better tonight because they scored 2(3) goals tonight I think and we can't let that happen"
I also caught up with Jarred Tinordi after the game and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for EOTP.
On the previous win streak
"We had a good run of games and we wanted to carry the positive aspects over to the game tonight and things weren't going our way tonight"
On tonight's game
"We let the game get away from us early on and didn't execute like we did before and obviously the powerplay goals against were huge for them"
The loss breaks Hamilton's four game win streak but there were a few bright spots tonight as both Christian Thomas and Martin St. Pierre collected a goal and two assists. Morgan Ellis was a bright spot as well showing good puck moving instincts in addition to showing off some slick moves at the expense of Patrick Kaleta.
However there are a few things tonight that left me scratching my head, first and foremost is Tarnasky/Macenauer/Leblanc backed by Drew Schiestel and Greg Pateryn getting first powerplay time over the Thomas/St. Pierre/Dumont unit which shredded Syracuse on Saturday and created two goals again tonight. The loss of Magnus Nygren is a serious blow for this team as Beaulieu remains the only true quarterback on the man advantage for Hamilton. Unless the team plans to use injured forward Patrick Holland on the point like they did last year.
3 Stars of the Game:
3rd: Rasmus Ristolainen(2 Goals)
2nd: Jamie Tardif (1 Goal 1 Assist)
1st: Kevin Porter (2 Goals 1 Assist)
Dan Lawrie Insurance Premium Player of the Game was Christian Thomas
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Friday November 29th against North Division rivals the Toronto Marlies at Copps Coliseum.
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