Bulldogs lose 7-4 in strong effort against the Crusaders

Article Credit: Alessia Proietti, rdnewsNOW
Photo Credit: Tom Grimsdale, Ideal Images Red Deer

The Blackfalds Bulldogs did not have the luck of the Irish at their St. Patrick’s Day matinee game on Sunday, losing 7-4 to the Sherwood Park Crusaders at the Eagle Builders Centre.

The Bulldogs went 1-1 in a home-and-home series this weekend, winning 4-3 in last night’s game to the Okotoks Oilers.

Tonight’s game was not without effort, however, as the teams went neck-and-neck for goals in the first two periods, the Bulldogs having greatly outshot the Crusaders 47-25 overall, and with forward-Brendan Ross breaking franchise records for goal scoring and points in one season.

The Bulldogs opened the scoreboard early in the first period with a goal by Carter Cormier from the short side of Crusaders goaltender Erick Roest. His first goal this season was assisted by Jayden Joly and Brendan Ross at 3:27, now 1-0.

At 6:55, Blackfalds’ Ross tied the franchise record for goals in a season with his 42nd, and ninth this BCHL season. With Luke Dahlen getting the helper, the team was now in a 2-0 lead.

Halfway through the period, Sherwood Park’s Noah Wills cut their deficit to 2-1 with a goal on Blackfalds netminder Wilson Maxfield.

The Crusaders’ Max Leduc followed with another goal at 13:27 to even out the game 2-2.

After 20 minutes of play, the Bulldogs were significantly outshooting the Crusaders 21-4.

Blackfalds took a hit in the middle frame, beginning with a power play goal by Sherwood Park’s Cole Assailly at the five-minute mark as the home team’s Hunter Brown served a hooking penalty. The visitors were now in the lead 3-2.

The tables were turned and records were broken just one minute later as the Crusaders’ Lauchlan Kozicky sat in the box for interference. The Bulldogs’ Ross, standing in front of the crease, tipped in his 43rd goal of the season, tenth this BCHL season and second of the game, breaking the franchise record for most goals scored in a season, previously held by Tyler Wallace last season. His power play goal, while slightly contested at the start, also broke the record for most career points as a Bulldog at 157. With the help of Carter Patterson and Hunter Brown, Blackfalds tied the game 3-3.

The Bulldogs claimed the lead 4-3 at 7:31 when Dakota MacIntosh scored his seventh of the season from the low slot, with Alexander Dimitriadis getting the apple.

The Crusaders, however, tied the game 4-4 once again at 9:03, when Logan Hauer scored a power play goal as the Bulldogs’ Ryan Neumann served a roughing penalty.

The visitors took over the lead 5-4 at 12:39 with a goal by Zac Maxwell.

By this point, Blackfalds swapped out goaltender Wilson Maxfield for Gabe Gratton.

But just 14 seconds later, Sherwood Park’s Connor Frost scored for a 6-4 lead.

The Bulldogs were still outshooting the Crusaders in the second period16-14.

The Crusaders solidified their win in the third period when Ryan Zaremba earned a goal at 9:48, bringing the scoreboard in their favour 7-4.

Blackfalds outshot Sherwood Park 10-7 in the final period.

Shots on goal

SPC: 25

BFB: 47

Power Play

SPC: 2/2

BFB: 1/3

McWilliam Auto Services Three stars

1st: Brendan Ross (BFB) – 2G, 1A

2nd: Noah Wills (SPC) – 1G, 1A

3rd: Ryan Zaremba (SPC) – 1G, 1A

Bulldogs Assistant Coach Brady Bakke said while the game was one of their better ones, particularly in the offensive zone, they broke down too many times to a strong offensive team like the Crusaders.

“We didn’t help out either of our goaltenders here tonight with the chances that we gave up,” he said, elaborating that the Crusaders were scoring Grade A shots from the high slot.

Blackfalds franchise star Brendan Ross echoed the same sentiment, adding that the defensive zone needs to be stronger when faced with quality shots.

“We were put on a leash out there; they were taking us wherever they wanted. It was tough to watch,” he said.

However, the night started and ended on a positive note as he walked home with the puck from his record-breaking goal.

“It was a pretty surreal moment, to be honest, hearing my name and that extra cheer as well. It was something special, especially to have my parents too to see that,” he said. “It’s obviously a great accomplishment but we also got to focus on getting wins too.”

Bakke said the team needs to figure out their A-game over the next six remaining games in the season before playoffs.

“For us, it’s about redeciding how and what we’re going to do on the defensive side of it. The biggest thing for the coaches is, we got to go back, reanalyze, refigure out, recommit to how to present what we need to be done to the guys because maybe what we’re giving them right now just isn’t clicking the right way and I think that’s what coaching is; you try one way, it may not work, so you got to go back and try to find another way to present our way of playing and eventually, you figure out what clicks with certain groups,” he said.

The loss keeps the Bulldogs in third place among Alberta teams this BCHL season with a record of 5-7-2-0 while the win has the Crusaders in second place at 10-4-1-0.

The Bulldogs will play against the Spruce Grove Saints on Tuesday at the Grant Fuhr Arena. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. with the broadcast live on Mixlr.

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