Sunday’s game pitted two teams on different sides of the spectrum against each other. On one hand you had the Abbotsford Heat, the only team in the AHL who had yet to lose in regulation. On the other hand, the Hamilton Bulldogs; after a good start to the season the Bulldogs had lost one of their key players (Louis Leblanc) to injury, and had lost their last three games. It seemed a pretty safe bet that Sven Bartschi and co. would have no problem extending their streak.
Of course, there is a reason we play the games. The Bulldogs would get to play the spoiler thanks to a strong performance by Blake Geoffrion and Robert Mayer, combined with solid defensive positioning.
The first period went scoreless, both teams had good chances but the goalies got the better of the shooters. Robert Mayer stopped all 11 Heat chances while Danny Taylor turned aside 12 Bulldogs shots.
In the second, the Heat took the lead 3:36 in, Roman Horak extended his point-scoring streak to 7 games; in that span he has scored 7 goals and added 1 assist. Horak grabbed a Max Reinhart rebound and popped it past Mayer who was down in his crease on the play.
Just under 3 minutes later, at the 6:25 mark, Blake Geoffrion tied the game with his second of the season. Greg Pateryn spotted an open Geoffrion inside the circle, and Geoffrion snapped a beauty top corner. Mike Blunden also picked up an assist on the play. Pateryn’s helper marked his first career AHL point.
Still in the second, the Heat’s Adam Estoclet took a slashing penalty and put the Bulldogs on the powerplay. On the ensuing man advantage the Bulldogs would take the lead. Blake Geoffrion would send a pass in front of the net to Aaron Palushaj who tipped it by Taylor. Brendon Nash got the second assist in his first game back from being a healthy scratch the last two. The goal not only gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead but it also represented the only powerplay goal the Heat have surrendered this season. Prior to this goal they had killed off an impressive 26 straight penalties.
In the third period the Heat only managed to throw 5 shots on Mayer, but most of them came with the time on the clock dwindling. Mayer turned all 5 shots aside, including an acrobatic toe save on Dustin Sylvester, to secure the 2-1 win.
The ‘Dogs outshot their opponents 30-29 to hand the Heat their first regulation loss of the season, and most of that was done by solid defense against one of the top scoring teams in the AHL. Minimizing their giveaways and taking advantage of scoring opportunities will have to continue to be a trend for the Bulldogs if they hope to turn this win into a streak of their own.
The Bulldogs are back in action November 2nd and 3rd when they will face off against Cody Hodgson and the Rochester Americans in a home and home series.
1. HAM- Blake Geoffrion (1 goal, 1 assist, 2 shots, +1)
2. HAM- Aaron Palushaj (1 goal, 2 shots)
3. HAM- Robert Mayer (28 saves)