The Hamilton Bulldogs and Mississauga Steelheads split the home-and-home this weekend, with each team winning on the road.
Hamilton and Mississauga both came into Friday night’s game coming off of overtime losses on the road, Hamilton in Barrie and Mississauga in Sudbury, and were looking for a win to get back on track. Mississauga’s Ty Collins kicked off the scoring late in the first, slipping his sixth of the season past Hamilton goaltender Marco Costantini on a 2-on-1 break to give the Steelheads the one-goal lead heading into the break.
Hamilton tied up the game just under a minute into the second period, as Hamilton’s Bradey Johnson got the rebound off the pad of Steelheads’ goalie Kai Edmonds for his third of the season. Soon after, Mississauga would regain the lead as Keean Washkurak put his 10th of the season past Costantini. The Steelheads would extend their lead just five minutes later as Thomas Harley would pick up a rebound off a Jan Jenik chance. Harley passed it to Washkurak, who then sent a stretch pass up to James Hardie. Hardie would beat the blocker of Costantini to extend Mississauga’s lead to 3-1. Just under two minutes later, Jenik would tie the league record for a point streak at 26 games. He picked up the rebound off a low shot from Arthur Kaliyev and put home his 21st of the season to bring the Bulldogs within one. Hamilton’s Avery Hayes would get the tying goal past Edmonds before the end of the period.
Jenik opened the scoring in the third, going end-to-end on the penalty kill to get his second of the game and give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game. The lead, however, was short lived. On the same powerplay, Harley took a shot from the point that beat Costantini and tied the game up at four. Hamilton regained the lead when Michael Renwick cut off a Mississauga pass and got his first of the year past Edmonds on a slapshot from the point. Hayes would get his second of the game on the empty net and seal the deal, as the Bulldogs win 6-4 at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga.
Both teams came out hard to start the second half of the home-and-home at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, going scoreless in the first period but tallying a combined 40 penalty minutes. With just under three minutes remaining in the first, Navrin Mutter took a double minor penalty and would sit for four minutes; it only escalated from here. Hamilton’s Renwick and Mississauga’s Adrian Prueter would have a quick tilt after Renwick threw a hit from behind at Collins. Renwick would get a double minor for checking from behind along with a five-minute major for fighting. Prueter had the five-minute major for fighting along with a minor penalty and a ten-minute misconduct for instigating.
The game remained scoreless until the 16:05 mark of the second period. Mississauga’s Richard Whittaker fired one past the blocker of Zach Roy to give the Steelheads the 1-0 lead. Just under 30 seconds later, Duncan Penman extended the lead for Mississauga as his shot from the point beat Roy glove side. The Steelheads would add an empty net goal in the end of the third and shut out the Bulldogs, also putting an end to Jenik’s 26-game point streak.
“It’s a really great feeling. It’s the work of all of my teammates, not just me,” said Jenik on his point streak. “They are trying to help me a lot and I’m just lucky that I can score.”
With the potential of losing their two leading scorers, Kaliyev for the United States and Jenik for the Czech Republic, to the IIHF World Junior Championships, Bulldogs Head Coach Vince Laise is staying confident in his team.
“I don’t think we’ll adjust much, now we have younger guys with more opportunity,” said Laise. “It’ll be exciting to see the evolution here in the next three weeks and the plan that we devise.”
The Bulldogs are back in action against the Rangers at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Friday night.