The Bulldogs appeared a step slow to start this one, and the Centennials were absolutely flying off the opening puck drop, getting several good chances including a breakaway that Nathan Warren stopped. The Centennials kept their foot on the gas, going up 1-0 4:32 into the game when Gavin Gould walked over the Bulldogs line up the left wing where he put a top corner slap shot on goal from the boards that beat Warrren top corner, far-side over the glove, with Diego Cuglietta picking up the assist. Just over a minute and change later it was 2-0 Centennials when they made quick work on the power play, as Shane Poulson blew a one-timer home far-side past the glove of Warren, with assists going to Gavin Gould and Digeo Cuglietta at 5:59 of the first. Warren would come up with a series of good saves as the Cents continued to carry the play, including a highlight reel robbery on Cole Acuri as Warren went post to post and got his glove hand up to somehow keep it out on a rink-wide one timer on an open net. The Centennials would continue to push, and made quick work again on it just 8 seconds into the power play when John Schiavo one-timed home a backdoor pass into an open net before Warren could get over, with assists to Diego Cuglietta and Gavin Gould at 14:38 of the first for a 3-0 Centennials lead after one, and Merritt up in the shots 19-13.
The Bulldogs had a noticeable jump to their step to start the second, drawing a power play early in the period and connecting on it when Scottie Clark one-timed a pass to the slot off Jonah Imoo and in to make it 3-1. Drew Weich and Brett Stewart picked up the assists at 2:42 of the period. There would be no scoring the rest of the way through the second, but not for a lack of chances as both Nathan Warren and Jonah Imoo were sharp to keep it 3-1 Centennials after 40 minutes, with the Dogs out shooting the Cents 12-10 over the period for a 29-25 Merritt advantage after two.
The third period wouldn't start the way the Dogs needed, as opposed to getting an early goal to get back into it, they gave up a goal to fall further back as some careless D-to-D passing got picked off by John Schiavo, who sent Gavin Gould in alone from the top of the circles where he deked and beat Warren glove side to make it 4-1 at the 2:47 mark. Despite the deficit the Dogs didn't quit and continued to play hard, but they couldn't get a bounce around Jonah Imoo's net to make a game of it. The Dogs pulled their goalie with over two minutes to play and had at least a half-dozen grade A shots around the net but couldn't find the back of it with a combination of good saves and shot blocks seeing the Centennials kill the clock for the 4-1 final.
Shots favoured the Centennials 41-40 with Nathan Warren taking the loss in net while Jonah Imoo picked up 2nd star honours with the win. The Dogs went 1 for 5 on the power play while the Centennials went 2 for 7.
The Dogs are next in action Friday and Saturday when they conclude their regular season with a double header in Powell River against the Kings.
It's the end of the road this afternoon for the Bulldogs (26-23-2-4, 4th Island) as they wrap up a three games in two and a half days road trip when they visit the Centennials (29-23-0-2, 3rd Interior) at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Merritt.
This is the second meeting between the teams in just eight days, as the Bulldogs topped the Centennials 3-0 last Saturday at the Multiplex. The Cents had last night off, last seeing action Friday night in Penticton where they fell 4-1 to the Vees. The Bulldogs were in Penticton last night, where they fell 4-2 to the Vees, their third straight loss.
Points are important to both teams, but they are more important to the Centennials so again the Bulldogs need to be ready to face a desperate opponent. While the Dogs are fighting for positioning in the Island Division, the Centennials are fighting for their Playoff lives,
It's a smaller than regulation ice surface in Merritt you can maybe see from the title picture at the very top of today's post, or the one below. That can be both a good thing, and a bad thing, at the end of a road trip. One one hand, there is less ground to cover to get from point A to point B. At the same time, things happen extremely fast and you have less time to make a play or make a hit or be hit, so the Dogs need to be ready from the outset. I'm happy to report that the heater pictured below has since been moved, so the broadcaster in the visiting booth now has a clear view of the ice surface. It was always a bit of a challenge, to say the least, to call a game in Merritt as you couldn't see half of it!
At the same time I'm saddened to hear that the old organ has been removed from the bottom of the stairs in the booth! I'm not sure it even worked, but it was just a little accessory that complemented the beauty that is the old barn in Merritt.
It's an early start today on Van Isle Ford Bulldogs Hockey on 93.3 The Peak FM as the pregame show kicks off at 1:45 with the puck drop following at 2pm with myself and Bruce MacDonald calling the play-by-play and providing the colour commentary and analysis.
If you aren't in radio listening range of 93.3 The Peak FM you can listen/watch the game by:
Over the first couple of shifts the Vees forced the issue and the Dogs seemed a step behind, with Billy Christopoulos coming up with a couple of solid saves to keep it scoreless. Eric Margo would get taken down at centre ice shortly afterwards to earn a power play chance. The Dogs would move the puck around well, but failed to get much in the way of pucks on net. A later power play would see the Dogs do a better job of getting pucks to the net but again couldn't get a bounce to beat Hunter Miska as Mike Lee made a great shot block before then clearing a loose puck off the goal line to keep it scoreless. As the period wore on, the Vees continued to do a great job of blocking shots, as it stayed 0-0 until the latter stages of the period when Eric Therrien got caught for getting his stick up on a Vee on the back check resulting in a four minute penalty. The Vees would score with 30 seconds to go in the first minor, just seconds after a highlight reel save by Christopoulos on Tyson Jost on a cross-crease pass as the Bulldogs were down to 3 and a half men with a defenceman being without a stick. It went from bad to worse seconds later when that same defenceman inadvertenly slid into Christopoulos and knocked his stick out of his hands. The Vees would drive the net and slide one home five-hole, with Jack Ramsey getting credit for it, with Tyson Jost picking up the only assist at 17:57 of the first. Just a minute later the Bulldogs would be penalized again, on what I thought was a pretty soft call as Troy Dobbs got whistled for cross-checking while trying to push a Vee out of the goal crease. The Vees would make quick work on the two-man advantage, with Gabe Bast scoring on a one-time blast from the deep slot high past the blocker arm of Christopoulos, with assists going to Tyson Jost and Patrick Newell with just over two seconds left in the first to make it 2-0. The Vees out shot the Dogs 18-2 in the first.
The Bulldogs would kill off the remainder of the penalty to start the second, and then immediately get on the offense as Chris Schutz made a great play at the offensive blue line to chip the puck through the legs of a stepping-up Vees defender to put it on the tape of Scottie Clark. He would walk over the Vees line up the right wing with speed before throwing a puck to the slot that deflected off of Mitch Makin and in at 2:08 of the second to make it 2-1. Just under two minutes later it was a 2-2 tie as Eric Margo made a great effort to get a stick on an outlet pass in the zone on the forecheck to keep the puck in Penticton territory. Drew Blackmun would follow that up with a hard hit behind the Vees net on the fore-check to steal the puck and centre it to Eric Margo. His shot would be stopped, but Marcus Russell found the loose puck on the far side of the net where he fired it home before Miska could get over to make it 2-2 at 4:02 of the second. Later in the period the Vees would push hard and hem the Dogs in their end and earned several good chances, but they couldn't beat Christopoulos. The Dogs would push back immediately on the transition as Josh Adkins and Dylan Haugen move the puck quickly before throwing it at the net where Everett Putz deflected it on net, only to be robbed by the left toe of Miska. Off the following faceoff another similar play as Putz deflect a cross-crease pass on net, with Miska again making a fantastic left-toe save to keep it 2-2. The Vees would have a great chance to take the lead shortly afterwards when Demico Hannoun chased down a Shayne Gwinner clear off the glass in the Vees zone to race in on a breakaway, but Christopoulos stood tall to make the save. The two would square off again just minutes later as a Bulldog forward came back and made a good defensive play just outside the blue line, only to turn the puck over just a second later as Hannoun skated in alone and went top corner, glove-side off the bar and in to make it 3-2 Vees, un-assisted at 14:45 of the second. Shots were even at 12-aside in the period, for a 30-14 Vees edge after two.
The Bulldogs started with a good push to begin the third, but they couldn't get the equalizer before the Vees went ahead 4-2 just over five minutes in on the rush as the Dogs couldn't win a battle behind the Vees net for the puck. Mike Lee would find it and send Demico Hannoun up the right wing through centre. A Bulldog defender would fall down on the back check, resulting in an open lane for Patrick Newell who accepted the pass and walked in alone where he snapped it over the glove of Christopoulos to make it 4-2 at 5:22 of the third period. The Bulldogs would earn two power plays through the next five minutes, but they were unable to generate much to get back into the game against a solid Vees penalty kill. The Dogs would pull their goalie with just over four minutes to play in the third period in a valiant attempt to again make it a one goal game, coming painfully close as Garrett Halls ripped a shot from the deep slot that hit the cross-bar behind Miska but stayed out. There would be no scoring the rest of the way, mostly thanks to a desperation save by Mitch Makin in front of the Dogs net with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker with two minutes and change to go.
Final shots favoured the Vees 35-22 with Billy Christopoulos taking the loss while Hunter Miska picked up the win. The Dogs went 0 for 5 on the power play while the Vees went 2 for 5.
The Dogs road trip continues tomorrow afternoon in Merritt for a 2pm puck drop.
The Interior weekend continues tonight for the Bulldogs (26-22-2-3, 4th Island) as they travel to Penticton to face the league leading Vees (41-9-3-2, 1st Interior, 1st Overall) for the second time in less than two weeks at the South Okanagan Event Centre for a special 6pm puck drop.
The Bulldogs kicked off their weekend last night in Salmon Arm where they lost another heart breaker, tying it with 33 seconds to go, and then giving one up ten seconds later to lose 4-3 to the Silverbacks. The Vees were also in action last night at home, where they won their third in a row, 4-1 over the Merritt Centennials.
These teams last met in on Sunday, February 8th a 3-0 Bulldogs win at the Dog Pound. That evened the season series at 1-1 after the Vees picked up a 4-3 win over the Dogs at the season opening BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack in September.
The two points up for grabs are valuable for the Bulldogs as they are fighting for positioning in the Island Division standings. The Vees meanwhile don't have anything to play for as they clinched the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy that's awarded to the Regular Season league leaders with a 5-2 win in Trail on Valentines Day. Having said that, no one plays the game not to win it, and you can bet the Vees will bring their best to try and end the Regular Season on a roll and maybe get a little payback after the Dogs won the last meeting.
Note the 6pm start time tonight - that means the pregame show on Pacific Chevrolet Bulldogs Hockey gets underway at 5:45 on 93.3 The Peak FM with Bruce MacDonald providing the colour commentary and analysis while I call the play-by-play.
If you aren't in radio listening range of 93.3 The Peak FM you can listen/watch the game by:
Tonight's 2nd Intermission feature guest is Dave Ashbaugh, play-by-play voice of the Merritt Centennials, who
the Dogs visit tomorrow afternoon to conclude their road trip for the second meeting between the teams in just eight days.
A hard paced start to the game, with each side ready to play from the get-go and the Dogs forced to be on their game early as the Silverbacks pushed hard out of the gate. The Bulldogs drew a penalty early in the contest, and made good on the opportunity with beautiful player and puck movement seeing Drew Weich feed Brett Stewart at the right point, where he put a perfect back-door pass onto the tape of Chris Schutz who made no mistake in one-timing it home from the bottom of the left circle before Angus Redmond could get over. Assists on the play went to Makin and Stewart, but it should have been Stewart and Weich at 4:49 of the first for a 1-0 Dogs lead. The Silverbacks would have an opportunity shortly afterwards on a power play of their own, but the Dogs did a good job to kill it off. The 'Backs continued to push, and had several great chances on a shift when they contained the Dogs in their zone, but Billy Christopoulos was rock solid to preserve the lead. The Silverbacks would draw a penalty at the end of the shift, and a double-minor late in the first, but again the Dogs penalty killers and Christopoulos stood tall to keep it 1-0 Dogs after one, with the Silverbacks leading the shots 11-8.
The Dogs would kill off the first part of the double-minor to start the second, and got late into the second half of it, but the Silverbacks would find the net to tie the game on a tough luck play from the Dogs perspective as a centering pass was one-timed at the net, only to be blocked off Josh Adkins' face. It would bounce rink wide onto the tape of Carson Bolduc who fired it off traffic and into the open side. Assists on the power play goal went to Taro Hirose and Joshua Laframboise at the 1:12 mark of the second. The Dogs would take two more penalties, again killing them off to keep it 1-1. They would finally draw a penalty in the back half of the period, but instead of taking the lead back it was Salmon Arm going up 2-1 as Brett Stewart couldn't knock down Scottie Clark's pass at the Dogs line, resulting in a shorthanded breakaway for Josh Blanchard that he made no mistake on, scoring with a leg-kick and a top corner backhand past Christopoulos for the un-assisted marker at 12:12 of the second. The Dogs would fight back against the momentum, and drew a penalty late in the period but failed to capitalize. They would make good on a face-off in the Salmon Arm end late in the period when Troy Dobbs had a shot at the net blocked, only to see Marcus Russell find it behind the goal and put a perfect pass out front to an un-marked Eric Margo who made no mistake, one-timing it home top corner, far-side over the glove of Redmond to make it 2-2 at 19:46 of the second. Shots favoured the Dogs 11-9 in the period, for a 20-19 Salmon Arm advantage after two periods of play.
As much as they took penalties through the first 40 minutes, the Dogs drew them early in the third. Eric Margo would draw a penalty that saw the Dogs spend a good portion of the two minutes moving the puck around the zone, but being unable to get any pucks on net. The Silverbacks shortly afterwards would take the lead back on a face-off when a shot from the line was blocked and ended up in the slot on the stick of Colton Thibault who fired it home past the glove of Christopoulos. Anthony Gardner picked up the only assist at 5:21 of the third. The Bulldogs would push hard throughout the third period, carrying the better of the play and quite simply refusing to quit. They would play desperate hockey, and get rewarded for it with just 33 seconds to go after Billy Christopoulos made two breakaway saves on Thomas Plese to keep it a one goal game. The Dogs went the other way and got the goalie out for the extra attacker where they tied the game as Everett Putz fed Garrett Halls on the right wing boards where he walked to the circle and ripped one on net that was stopped by Redmond, but the rebound came right out front to Dylan Haugen who one-timed home to make it 3-3 with just 33 seconds to play. Both sides of the puck went from elation to heartbreak and vice versa just 10 seconds later however when a dump in at the Dogs line was blocked high in the air and into the slot in the Dogs zone. A Bulldog defender would misplay it and it resulted in a breakaway for Carson Bolduc who avoided a Billy Christopoulos poke-check to fire into the open side to make it 4-3 with 27 seconds to go for the eventual final score.
Shots favoured the Bulldogs 31-26 with Billy Christopoulos taking the loss while Angus Redmond picked up the win. The Dogs went 1 for 5 on the power play while the Silverbacks went 1 for 6 while also scoring once shorthanded.
The Dogs road trip continues tomorrow when they face the Vees in Penticton for a 6pm puck drop.
It's the beginning of a three games in two and a half days Interior Conference road trip tonight for the Bulldogs (26-21-2-4, 4th Island) as they visit the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm to take on the Silverbacks (25-20-3-5, 4th Interior) for the second and final regular season meeting between the teams.
These teams last met January 24th at the Dog Pound, a 4-2 Dogs win. Much like on Saturday night at home against the Centennials, the Bulldogs will need to try and raise their level of desperation if they hope to come out with two points tonight, as the Silverbacks will no doubt be a hungry team as they are fighting for their Playoff lives.
The Bulldogs were last in action Wednesday night at home where they lost a heartbreaker, 4-3 in overtime to the Victoria Grizzlies while the Silverbacks last saw action last Friday when they had their six game winning streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to the Vipers in Vernon.
Get all the action from the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm on Pacific Chevrolet Bulldogs Hockey on 93.3 The Peak FM with the pregame show at 6:45 and the puck drop and play-by-play to follow at 7:00pm with myself and Bruce MacDonald providing the play-by-play and colour and analysis.
If you aren't in radio listening range of 93.3 The Peak FM you can listen/watch the game by:
Tonight's 2nd Intermission feature guest is Fraser Rodgers, play-by-play voice of the Penticton Vees, who
the Dogs visit tomorrow night in Penticton for the third and final meeting between the teams this season.
A lightning fast start for the Bulldogs in this one in front of a great crowd, as they took a 1-0 lead before the game was 20 seconds old as Garrett Halls knocked down a clearing attempt that was skated onto by Scottie Clark. He would put a quick shot on goal from the circle that beat Stiliadis long-side through his blocker arm with just 15 seconds gone in the game with Halls drawing the only assist. The pace was fantastic over the next five to six minutes as there was no whistles and great end-to-end hockey to watch with both sides getting a couple chances around the net. After the Official let several things go uncalled each way, the Bulldogs would be penalized on an interaction between the benches on a line change. The Grizzlies would make quick work on the power play, scoring an absolutely gorgeous goal that saw all five players touch the puck in an 11 second span on lighting quick passing that saw Dane Gibson score into a wide-open net off a Brett Gruber pass. Kevin Massy should receive the secondary assist on the scoring play at 10:46 of the first. The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead late in the frame when Eric Therrien sent Chris Schutz over the Grizzlies line down the right wing where he snapped one on goal that was kicked out, but right back to the slot, by Stiliadis. Braden Fuller would drive the net and snap it into the open cage to make it 2-1 at the 17:52 mark. Just 11 seconds later it was 3-1 Bulldogs, as Mitch Makin carried the puck down the left wing and below the goal line before throwing a cross-ice pass back to the right point to Drew Weich. He would put a shot intentionally wide that was deflected in by Chris Schutz. The Referee would immediatley signal goal, but then called his Linesman over as the Grizzlies complained it was kicked. The goal after a discussion would be awarded, with Schutz getting credit from Weich and Makin at 18:02 of the first for a 3-1 Dogs lead after one. As the discussion on the goal was ongoing, Michael Stiliadis would fire the puck in frustration into the crowd and strike a fan - possibly accidentally, but nevertheless certainly something that shouldn't happen and something that might have further repercussions. The shots favoured the Bulldogs 13-6 after 20 minutes.
The second period would see no scoring, with the Bulldogs being penalized twice more throughout the first half of the frame and doing a fantastic job to not give up much to preserve their two goal lead. The Dogs drew their first power play of the game with two minutes left in the period and generated a great chance that saw Michael Stiliadis go post to post to rob Braden Fuller on what looked like an open net as it stayed 3-1 after 40 minutes with the Dogs out shooting the Grizzlies 13-8 for a two period total of 26-14.
The third period was again played at a high pace, with the Dogs doing a good job of not sitting back but not giving up much as they continued to lead by two. The Grizzlies however would continue to push, and made it a 3-2 game in the back-half of the period as a keep at the blue line resulted in a D-to-D pass that Thomas Huddelstan threw at the net that was deflected on goal by Dane Gibson. Billy Christopoulos would make the first save, but an un-marked Jay Mackie found the open side on the rebound to make it 3-2 at 11:08 of the third. The Dogs held the lead until the late stages, when the Grizzlies pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Josh Adkins would miss the empty net by a hair, before pursuing the puck in the corner. He would then pick up a penalty on an excuse-me trip, that was in my opinion pretty soft considering all that was let go though the game, but maybe a penalty you need to call with an empty net. The Grizzlies would end up scoring on the six on four situation when Brett Gruber threw the puck front to Thomas Gobeil who roofed the one-timer high over Christopoulos at 19:07 of the third period. The period would end with some rough stuff, resulting in the Dogs going to the power play to start the third period. They somehow would not be awarded a two-man advantage when Drew Weich had his stick slashed out of his hands in the Grizzlies zone, allowing Victoria to clear the puck down the ice. The Dogs would have a great chance to win it as the penalty was expiring when Brett Stewart sent Mitch Makin in alone, only to have Stiliadis make a great save getting his glove up to keep out what appeared to be a shot labelled top corner on the backhand. The Grizzlies would win it seconds later, when a Bulldog defender would fail to keep the puck in at the Grizzlies line while flat-footed, allowing Jay Mackie to skate in on a breakaway. Billy Christopoulos would make the save, but couldn't get any help on the rebound as Thomas Gobeil beat the Dogs to the net and roofed the loose puck under the bar at 3:19 of overtime for the 4-3 final.
Final shots favoured the Dogs 42-25 with Billy Christopoulos taking the loss while Michael Stiliadis picked up the win. The Dogs went 0 for 3 on the power play while the Grizzlies went 2 for 5.
The Dogs are next in action Friday in Salmon Arm as they kick off a three-in-three road trip through the Interior.
It's the eighth and final Regular season meeting between the teams, and a possible Playoff preview as the Bulldogs (26-21-2-3, 4th Island) host the Grizzlies (24-18-1-10, 3rd Island) tonight at the Dog Pound.
These teams last met Friday night in Victoria where the Grizzlies snapped their losing streak and three and the Dogs winning streak at three with an 8-4 win in a wild game that saw the teams combine for EIGHT third period goals.
With the last three head-to-head meetings all at the Q Centre, I'm sure the Dogs are happy at the prospect of playing the hosts tonight and not having to get on the bus and head down Island again, especially considering that they are on the road tomorrow for a weekend road trip to the Interior Conference. The Grizzlies have won the last three head-to-head meetings, with the Bulldogs winning the last meeting between the teams in this building, 4-3 on January 21st. If the Dogs have designs on passing the Grizzlies in the standings, one has to think this is pretty close to a must-win game.
The Bulldogs last saw action Saturday night at home where they picked up a 3-0 win over the Merritt Centennials. The Grizzlies were last in action Saturday night at home where they won their second straight, 6-2 over the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Catch all the action from the Multiplex on Van Isle Ford Bulldogs Hockey on 93.3 The Peak FM with Bruce MacDonald, Dan Tisserand and myself bringing the colour commentary/analysis, team/player stats and play-by-play respectively all starting with the pregame show at 6:45 followed by the 7:00pm puck drop.
If you aren't in radio listening range of 93.3 The Peak FM you can listen/watch the game by:
A spirited start to this one after the Bulldogs players introduced their parents and billet parents prior to the game. The Centennials had a couple good chances early in the game, but Billy Christopoulos looked sharp. Marcus Russell would have the best Bulldogs chance early in the game but Jonah Imoo made a good save on a breakaway chance. The Dogs opened the scoring just after the media time out on the rush as Brett Stewart avoided the fore check and rimmed the puck up the left wing for Eric Margo. He would gain the Centennials zone and drop the puck to Marcus Russell before taking a return pass and driving the net down the left wing where he threw a cross-crease pass that was intended for Drew Blackmun but instead found the back of the net off a Centennial defender in the crease to make it 1-0 at 11:57 of the first period. The Centennials had a great chance to get the equalizer with 30 seconds to play in the period when Cole Chorney set up John Schiavo right between the hash marks but Christopoulos came up with a big pad save to keep it 1-0 Dogs after the first, with the shots even at 13-13.
The second period was hotly contested, hard hitting and fast paced through the media time out, with both goalies standing tall to keep it a 1-0 game as Christopoulos stopped Michael Ederer on a breakaway and Jonah Imoo also came up with a breakaway stop on Tyler Povelofskie as the puck went skyward and landed on the top of the net and stayed out. Again immediately after the media time out the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead as Troy Dobbs took a Scottie Clark pass up the middle and sent Mitch Makin in alone down the left wing where he put a low slapper on net that was stopped by Imoo. He couldn't control the rebound though, as Makin found it and jammed it home inside the post at 11:42 of the second. Both sides would have their chances throughout the remainder of the period but the goalies stood tall as it was 2-0 Dog after two, with the Dogs leading the shots 13-12 for a two period total of 26-25.
The Bulldogs came out with a good jump to their step to start the third period, not looking like a team that was sitting back and defending their lead, holding the Centennials to just a single shot through the first half of the period to keep it 2-0. The score would stay that way until the dying seconds with the Dogs defending well and not giving up much despite the Centennials pulling their goalie with just under two minutes to play. The Dogs would seal the deal when Drew Weich knocked the puck down in front of the Dogs net and flipped one high out of the zone and through neutral ice where Eric Therrien chased it down and scored his first as a Bulldog from a sharp angle down the right wing with 2.8 seconds to play for the 3-0 final score.
Shots favoured the Bulldogs 36-27 - including 10-2 in the third period, with Billy Christopoulos picking up 2nd star honours with the win and the shut out in net while Jonah Imoo took the loss. The Dogs went 0 for 3 on the power play while the Centennials went 0 for 2.
The Dogs are next in action Wednesday night for their final regular season home game when they host the Victoria Grizzlies.