Friday night saw the Hamilton Bulldogs host their North Division rival Toronto Marlies at Copps Coliseum.
Both teams entered the game looking to grab the division lead with a big two points, making for yet another interesting Battle of Ontario matchup.
The Bulldogs and Marlies traded chances for majority of the first period until Jerry D'Amigo put Toronto up 1-0. D'Amigo was left alone in front of Bulldogs goaltender Robert Mayer and finished off a great pass from Josh Leivo. Sam Carrick was credited with the secondary assist on the goal, which came at 13:03 of the opening frame.
Following the opening goal, Hamilton was able to muster some quality scoring chances on Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre, but could not get the puck by him. The Bulldogs entered the first intermission with a 9-7 advantage in shots.
With the Marlies on the powerplay early in the second period after Jared Tinordi took a delay of game penalty, forward David Broll sniped over Mayer's blocker side, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead over Hamilton. Broll's first of the season came at 3:17 and was assisted by Leivo.
The Marlies would not be able to hold the two-goal cushion for long however, as Gabriel Dumont capitalized on a beautiful individual effort, cruising into the Marlies' zone and beating MacIntyre on the backhand. Defenceman Darren Dietz, returning in his first game back from a wrist injury, picked up the lone assist on Dumont's goal at 3:58.
Another quick sequence saw the Marlies regain the two-goal lead over the 'Dogs though, with forward Sam Carrick putting the Marlies up 3-1 with an extra attacker on the ice due to a delayed penalty to Hamilton.
Neither team was able to get back on the scoreboard for the remainder of the second period. The Marlies went into the second intermission with an 19-15 edge in shots and 3-1 lead.
Near the midway mark of the third period, Marlies forward Spencer Abbott went to the box for a tripping minor, giving the Bulldogs a chance to make it a one-goal hockey game. Hamilton was unable to create any noteworthy scoring chances though, with the Marlies hardly allowing the 'Dogs to get any time in the offensive zone.
A fight between Bulldogs defenceman Jared Tinordi and Marlies forward David Broll with under ten minutes remaining in the third was not enough to provide Hamilton with a spark.
The Marlies would take the game by a final score, giving Hamilton their second consecutive loss. Toronto also outshot Hamilton 29-25.
Following the game, Gabriel Dumont, the lone goalscorer for the Bulldogs spoke out about the team's lack of intensity.
"It's definitely not the kind of effort we were looking for coming out flat like this at home against Toronto, no excuse tonight," said Dumont.
Dumont discussed what the team needs to do to get back on track.
"When we're good, we're hitting, we're first on the puck...we're really hard to play against with a five-man unit in every zone," said Dumont. "We need to get back to that."
Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre stressed that with the team once again going up against another divisional opponent with the Lake Erie Monsters coming to town on Saturday, his squad must turn the page and focus on getting back into the win column.
"If we can't compete against our own division, we don't deserve to go anywhere," said Lefebvre. "We've got to learn from out mistakes, from the way we came out tonight and be more hungry than that."
With the win, Toronto takes the North Division lead with 23 points. Meanwhile, Hamilton drops down to 4th.
The Bulldogs will want to avoid dropping a third consecutive game Saturday against the Monsters, after recently coming off a four-game winning streak.
The last time Hamilton met Lake Erie on November 16th, it was the Bulldogs who came out on top, defeating the Monsters 3-2 in a shootout while on the road and snapping a six-game losing streak.
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