Hanilton Sink Whale 7-3
Strong open and close help Bulldogs Win
Bulldogs Sink Whale 7-3
By Gerry Cantlon
The Hamilton Bulldogs raced out to an early lead,lost it and then cruised past the Connecticut Whale 7-3 Friday night before 6,018 at the XL Center.
The Bulldogs were off an running early on the Whale building a 3-0 lead 6:02 into the contest.
The the Bulldogs’ Hunter Bishop, Aaron Palushaj and Nash scored three goals on six shots, causing the quick exit of Whale starting goalie Johnson.
Just 1:40 into the game rookie Ben Bishop took a drop pass from Gabriel Dumont who beat beat goalie Chad Johnson high to the stick side. The Bulldogs cashed in their first power play, when defenseman Brendon Nash who got he puck from goalie Curtis Sandford dished off the puck to Aaron Pulushaj, who raced up ice and got past Whale defenseman Michael Del Zotto and flipped a backhander that trickled in through Johnson’s legs at 3:05.
The Bulldogs completed their early burst on a 5-on-3 as winger Dustin Boyd found Nash alone in the left circle for a 3-0 lead before the crowd that had just settled in.
It left Connecticut head coach Ken Gernander in a less than pleased mood.
“This left a bad taste in our mouths,” Gernander said. “I’m a lot disappointed in our start. On the three goals, there were a lot of mistakes, and there were quite a few guys who weren’t ready right from the get-go. When out margin for error is pretty slim right now, you can’t afford that.
“I’m not going to single anybody out, but I was definitely upset with some of the goals and some of our guys’ play. I’m not happy with our team game and obviously our team defense when you give up seven. We’re a better defending team than that, and if there’s any person who’s going to be singled out, I think it was pretty poor from start to finish.”
Johnson was pulled in favor of Pier-Olivier Pelletier, who just signed to a PTO as a replacement for Cameron Talbot, who sustained high ankle sprain in a 6-3 victory over the league-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday.
It was one of the quickest hooks in team history and Gernander made it clear the goaltending and the team play was the reason for the early decision to pull Johnson.
“Both. Both,” Gernander said when asked, “I didn’t like the first two goals, and the third was a 5-on-3. It was a pretty tough game for Pelletier. I thought he did all right for a bit, and then their chances started to come at the end. I’m not going to be as judgmental or critical of his game as Chad because he’s been around all season with us.”
The team regained its footing as Ryan Garlock raced down right wing and flipped a backhander from the goal line that got between All-Star goalie Curtis Stanford who was deep in his net. The goal ended a 128:31 shutout streak for the veteran Sanford, who came in off back-to-back 22-save shutouts.
Sanford has an AHL-leading goals-against average and save percentage to 1.67 and .940.
The Whale narrowed the lead to 3-2 on a 5 on 3 powerplay as Russian Evgeny Grachev stranding on the doorstep banged in Tim Kennedy’s rebound smacking in his 9th of the season at14:48.
The Whale evened the contest early in the second period as Jason Williams during a major penalty that carried over with a quick wrist shot 20 feet out that beat Sanford high to the stickside at 31 seconds.
Late in the second the games fortunes briefly changed for the Whale and then permanently in the Bulldogs favor.
The Whale were assessed a penalty shot by referee Mark Lemelin stating that Whale Czech rookie defenseman Tomas Kundatrek had hooked winger Danny Masse on a breakaway. Replays clearly showed he was 5 feet from him and Masse got the shot off.
Pelletier denied Masse attempt and it was a turning point in the game.
“I didn’t think that was worthy of a penalty shot,” Gernander said. “Pelletier’s stop was a rallying point for a window of time, but it didn’t sustain us through the course of the game.”
The second period was ended early with 3:09 because a pane of glass broke and new one had to be cut. The Bulldogs clearly took advantage of the opportunity.
About 2 minutes after play resumed and with 1:58 in game time left TJ Wyman was wide open to convert Russian rookie Alexander Avtsin cross ice pass and establish a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish.
Masse made up for the missed penalty shot having captain Alex Henry’s left point shot go off after being knocked down in front at1:03 of the third for his first professional goal. The lead went to 6-3 as ben Maxwell wide open On the right side converting Brendon nash (4 points) at 5:20 as the Whale defesne and forwards were caught running around.
Maxwell scored his 8th this time the left side of the net coverted Aaron Puilashaj pass at 7:01.
“I think we settled own and used that break to focus and put emphasis on the last 20 minutes of play and we did,” said Hamilton head coach Randy Cunneyworth.
NOTES: Cunneyworth and assistant coach randy Ladocuer played for the Hartfordf Whalers for 5 and 7 years respectively enjoyed a return to their old haunts especially when the signature “Brass Bonanza” song was played “Yeah, we were singing it loudly to lighten the mood” as the pair walked on the ice to start the game…Former Swedish and Finnish league player Kyle Klubertanz played a strong game with 3 assists for Hamilton…Former Wolf Pack Marvin Degon on the move to Austria to Villacher EV and Martin St. Pierre top AHL scorer last year is heading for this third European team this year EC Salzburg in Austria, he played in Finland (Karpat Oulu) and Russia (Neftekhimik in the KHL).
Story added on 22nd January 2011 at 21:02 GMT
Story submitted by: Gerry Cantlon.