Bulldogs lose 3-2 to Saints in shootout

Article Credit: Alessia Proietti, rdnewsNOW
Photo Credit: Tom Grimsdale

In their first shootout since joining the BCHL, the Blackfalds Bulldogs lost 3-2 against the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday night at the Eagle Builders Centre.

Having played against the Saints seven times prior this season between the two leagues, the Bulldogs won four games, with one loss in overtime. Blackfalds’ final game of the regular BCHL season will be at home against Spruce Grove next Saturday.

The Bulldogs opened the scoreboard early in the first period, just over one minute in. Carter Cormier scored in front of the crease and through the back door of the Saints’ goaltender Ryan De Kok. His third goal of the season was assisted by Trent LeDrew and Ryan Shaw for a 1-0 lead.

At 12:21, Blackfalds’ Brendan Ross doubled the team’s lead 2-0 when he dodged three Spruce Grove players all the way from the D-zone for a beautiful 12th goal this season. Luke Dahlen and James Johnson got the helpers.

The Saints were outshooting the Bulldogs 14-9 after 20 minutes of play.

While only one power play opportunity for Spruce Grove in the second period, Blackfalds did receive a rare penalty shot within final 14 seconds of regulation. While taking a shot on goal, Nolan DuPont had his stick slashed in half by the Saints’ Ryan Harvey. The penalty shot went uncapitalized and the score remained 2-0 for the Bulldogs.

The home team outshot the visitors 9-3 in the middle frame.

The Bulldogs had the game in the bag throughout the third period until the final five minutes. While the team’s Cormier sat in the box for slashing, the Saints’ Josh Polak scored a goal on Blackfalds goaltender Gabe Gratton. The power play goal put them on the scoreboard 2-1 at 15:57.

With Spruce Grove pulling their netminder De Kok off the ice at 18:48, the team’s Alexander Babich to tie the game 2-2 just 11 seconds later.

Heading into a 10-minute overtime, the Saints slightly outshot the Bulldogs 8-7 in the third period.

While both sides had close shots on goal, eight for Blackfalds and five for Spruce Grove, neither were able tilt the score, heading into the first shootout for the Bulldogs this entire season.

In the shootout, only the Saints’ Ethan Sundar scored for the team’s first shot on Bulldogs goaltender Gratton. Dakota MacIntosh, Ross, and Jayden Joly missed their shots for the home team.

Shots on goal

SGS: 31

BFB: 33

Power play

SGS: 1/3

BFB: 0/1

McWilliam Auto Services three stars

1st: Brendan Ross (BFB) – 1G

2nd: Ryan De Kok (SGS) – SV31

3rd: Gabe Gratton (BFB) – SV28

Bulldogs Head Coach Doug Quinn said he was a little disappointed in the results. While he felt the team was “sloppy” in the first period, he said they tightened up in the second and third, but lost momentum when they took a bad penalty and lost the faceoff in the final five minutes of regulation.

“We’ve made some changes to some of our D-zone. We’re kind of limiting some of the shots that we’re giving up and we’ve definitely tightened it up but, at the end of the day, you need to score. We had some opportunities, and we didn’t. We probably lost a point that we should’ve got,” he said.

Quinn added that they were shorthanded on the backend, with defensemen Brendan Gillmore, Aaron Brown, and Carter Patterson out for injury. Forwards Matheson Mason, Edward Moskowitz, and Alexander Dimitriadis were also off the lineup.

“Hopefully next weekend we get some bodies back and we can start building. This league is so close so it’s probably the way it should be just come down to one game, winner take all to see who gets the third spot. It’ll be exciting for everybody,” he said.

Blackfalds remains in third place among Alberta teams in the BCHL with a record of 37-22-6-1 while Spruce Grove sits in last at 25-33-5-1.

With the transition from the AJHL to the BCHL, the head coach said the whole season has been “unusual”, with an increased overtime period of 10 minutes instead of five, and playing a total of 68 games instead of the 62 schedule in their former league. He added that their condensed schedule has led them to play more games per week than almost any junior league in the country.

“Some of our kids, physically, they’re starting to get tired but it’s also mentally and emotionally draining. We need to recharge,” said Quinn.

The Bulldogs will play their final regular season game against the Okotoks Oilers on Friday at the Okotoks Centennial Arena. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. with the broadcast live on Mixlr.

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