Hamilton drops to 2-2 on the season last night after a fairly close match against the Rochester Americans.
Buffalo opened scoring in the 1st with Joe Finley tipping in a shot by Rick Schofield. Hamilton responded in the 2nd after a long stretch of puck possession dominance with Bournival sniping home a shot from the slot feed to him by Patrick Holland while Gallagher occupied two Amerks defenders on kamikaze run to the endboards. Amerks quickly took the lead again after Cody Hodgson scored on his own rebound after beating out two Bulldogs trying to defend him on the left side of the offensive zone. The Americans put the game out of reach late in the 3rd with their dominant powerplay producing a goal by TJ Brennan on the second of two consecutive penalties for the ‘Dogs.
Cody Hodgson was the big difference between the two squads as he scored the game winner, assisted on the insurance goal and consistantly controlled the flow of play when on the ice, having himself a 4 shot night. His line with Luke Adam and Evan Rankin consistently beat the Hamilton players sent against them. Despite this, the Bulldogs generally held the balance of even strength possession play, lead by a solid performance by a rookie line of Holland-Bournival-Gallagher, with Holland`s playmaking prowess and Bournival`s two-way play leading the way. The line had Hamilton`s only goal and 10 shots between them.
Hamilton’s top pairing had a good night with Beaulieu’s strong puck possession skills leading to plenty of offensive zone time for the Bulldogs while St. Denis’s steady play largely keeping the rookie out of trouble. The second pairing of Tinordi-Pateryn was far less effective, struggling with defensive positioning all night. Morgan Ellis was effective in his first pro game but his partner Corbin was far less so.
The ‘Dogs also missed Louis Leblanc, whose presence on the third line lead to a balanced even strength attack from the top nine forwards in previous games as Hamilton’s third line was much less effective last night, Jonas Nattinen being no replacement for number 20. Lefebvre occasionally benched his 4th line and move Gabriel Dumont to 3rd RW. Hamilton’s 4th line was largely ineffective due to the play of Hagel and Sortini.
Quailer-Geoffrion-Palushaj: 9 Shots
Holland-Bournival-Gallagher: 1 goal, 10 Shots
Blunden-Boyce-Nattinen: 3 Shots
Hagel-Dumont-Sortini: 4 Shots
Through 4 games the Bulldogs have a -5 real (no SO and EN) goal differential 7 For and 12 Against, but a shot ratio of 55%. They have been shooting at ~6% so far, which makes it pretty hard to win hockey games. Overall PDO is at 957.
A big reason for the lack of shooting and scoring success has been the power play, which despite producing some good offensive pressure has only converted on 1 of 19 opportunities. The penalty kill has given up 3 goals in 20 penalties against. Overall goaltending hasn’t been great either, .897 between Delmas and Mayer. The return of Desjardins would be a significant boost.
Brandon Nash was unexpectedly benched in favour of Antione Corbin who was expected to be the 7th defender with Ellis returning. Still no word on the nature of Louis Leblanc’s injury or word when Cedric Desjardins will return to be Hamilton’s starter.