Hamilton Bulldogs Win Opener Against Grand Rapids.

Nov 16, 2011; Montreal, QC, CAN; Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward (30) stops a shot from Montreal Canadiens forward Aaron Palushaj (60) during the second period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012-13 Hamilton Bulldogs came out of their first regular season game Saturday night a winner against Detriot Red Wings affiliated Grand Rapids Griffins, 4 to 3 in a shootout.

The game was decided by Michael Bournival in his AHL regular season debut as the only scorer amoung 9 shooters in the SO.

The Bulldogs played with the lines of

Quailer-Geoffrion-Gallagher

Palushaj-Bournival-Holland

Blunden-Boyce-Leblanc

Sortini-Dumont-Hagel

Beaulieu-St.Denis

Tinordi-Nash

Corbin-Patyren

Mayer

With Nattinen, Avtsin and Berger healthy scratches and Morgan Ellis still injured. The first two lines, each with two rookie forwards played the offensive roles while the veteran third unit had heavier defensive responsibilities and the 4 line was responsible for physical play/energy.

 

Blake Geoffrion opened scoring for the Bulldogs after being set up by a strong effort by Quailer, leading to the first official professional points for Quailer and Gallagher. The Bulldogs’ added to their lead with a goal from a point shot by Nash that was deflected in off by  Palushaj after first being deflected by Bournival, which resulted in Bournival’s first pro assist.

Quailer was targeted by AHL goon Triston Grant during a scrum towards the end of the first period. As to be expected, Grant had the better of the fight for the most part but at the end Quailer took down his opponent.

Grand Rapids opened their scoring in the 2nd period with a short-handed goal by Louis Leblanc’s former linemate for the Montreal junior team, Trevor Parkes, victimizing the Bulldog’s top PP unit of Palushaj-Holland-Geoffrion/Beaulieu-St.Denis. The Bulldog’s PP in general had a poor night with no goals and a -1 goal differential in 12 minutes of powerplay time.

After having controlled the pace of the first (2-0 score, 11-7 shot clock), Hamilton continued to let things get away from them in the second and third periods, despite a continual dominance in the shot clock and puck possession (37 shots for and 20 against).

The Griffens equalized to 2-2 five minutes later in the in the second while Hamilton’s 4th line combined to score early in the 3rd to return Hamilton to the lead. This was lost in another five minutes when the Griffin’s 2nd PP unit beat Dumont-Quailer/Tinordi-Pateryn to bring the score to 3-3. The matter was unresolved in overtime, which left it up to Bournival to be the only scorer amongst a field including Leblanc, Geoffrion, Palushaj and Gallagher for Hamilton and Smith, Nyquist, Tatar, Pare and Andersson for Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapid’s assortment of top level prospects from the Detroit system were held quiet, with Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco and Brendan Smith having only a single assist between them.

Fredric St. Denis was on for all three goals in a strong night for Hamilton’s leading defenseman. Beaulieu and Tinordi had respectable opening nights, but the story on defense, which has been a continuing one since camp, is the surprising strength of play by Greg Pateryn, who was an after thought to most commentators going into this year. Antoine Corbit however was lacking in his opening night, after earning a spot in camp with Morgan Ellis’s injury.

Bournival had the best opening night amoung rookie forwards, not just by results but by play also, doing quite well as his line’s centerman. Quailer also did well, showing lots of signs of the power game that his supporters had been hoping the big American could bring to the NHL. Likewise, Gallagher’s package of skill and tenacity was just as advertised. Leblanc had a quiet night as part of the checking line, offensive production from him probably requires a different assignment.

 

In an embarrassing act of home-opener homerism, after losing the game and being beat on the balance of play, the Grand Rapid’s arena named three Griffins as the game’s three stars.

Topics: Aaron Palushaj, Fredric St. Denis, Michel Bournival, Montreal Canadiens, Steve Quailer

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