The Hamilton Bulldogs lost their third straight game Sunday afternoon, falling to the Niagara IceDogs 5-4.
Hamilton was looking for a bounce-back game after dropping consecutive games to the Ottawa 67’s and Sudbury Wolves. But it wasn’t destined to happen Sunday.
Niagara captain Akil Thomas opened the scoring for the IceDogs just under nine minutes into a wild first period. He picked up the puck inside the faceoff circle and fired his eighth of the year over the glove of Marco Costantini. Niagara’s AJ Cook took a cross-checking penalty at around the 12-minute mark, but Ivan Lodnia did not let that stop him. A turnover at centre ice from Hamilton’s Jan Jenik sprung Lodnia and Philip Tomasino on a shorthanded 2-on-0 where Lodnia slid the puck through the legs of Costantini to give the IceDogs a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs responded with three quick goals in less than six minutes, starting with Payton Vescio. His pass deflected off the stick of the Niagara defense and up and over goaltender Tucker Tynan for his second of the year. Arthur Kaliyev put his 21st past Tynan on the powerplay just over two minutes later to bring the Bulldogs within one. Sixteen seconds before the buzzer sounded, Liam Van Loon set up Jenik in front of the net to give Hamilton the lead going into the second period.
Thomas opened the scoring in the second period with his second of the game, tying the game at three with a laser from the top of the circle that beat the Costantini glove side. The IceDogs continued to press but hit two posts late in the period to keep the game tied at three. At the 18:35 mark, Jenik was sent to the penalty box for delay of game on a faceoff violation. Thomas set up Lodnia and he capitalized on the advantage, firing home his seventh of the season and second of the game to restore the IceDogs’ lead just 10 seconds before heading to the break.
The Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on several opportunities early in the third. Niagara killed off an early penalty when Kyen Sopa was sent to the box for roughing, and then Van Loon sprung on a breakaway where he was slashed across the hands, drawing a penalty shot. He was unable to capitalize on the opportunity and the Bulldogs continued to trail by one. Then, while shorthanded, Kaliyev and Jenik were stoned by Tynan on a 2-on-0.
The Bulldogs went to the penalty box again when Jenik was called for hooking. Just 30 seconds in, Lodnia went for the hat trick with a shot that trickled through the crease, then was tapped home by Andrew Bruder for his second of the year, extending the IceDogs’ lead to 5-3.
The Bulldogs’ Tag Bertuzzi brought his team within one with his seventh of the year with just 49 seconds remaining, but it wasn’t enough as the IceDogs take this one by a score of 5-4.
“We, unfortunately, made some big-time mistakes and they have some pretty good players over there that could capitalize,” said Bulldogs’ Head Coach Vince Laise. “I believe that if we play like we played tonight and how urgent we were we are going to be successful most nights, but we have to capture what’s important about it and learn from those things.”
The Bulldogs are back in action Thursday night in North Bay as they take on the Battalion.