The Tampa Bay affiliated Syracuse Crunch continued their dominance over the Bulldogs in the 2nd game between the two teams this week. A 3 goal victory against the Bulldogs gave them a 6 goal advantage over the two game series. The Crunch owned puck possession against the Dogs, out shooting them 31 to 14 and out scoring them 4 to 1 on even strength.
Hamilton once again was unable to crack the Crunch’s defensive structure, recording only 13 shots on Dustin Tokarski. As a whole the Bulldogs have gotten only 36 over two games against the Crunch and have been outshot by 27.
The Bulldog’s sole goal came early in the second period as Steve Quailer sniped home a shot from the right wing on a 2 on 1 rush. This tally kept the game tied almost to the end of the second period. The Crunch’s dominance in controlling the balance of play ended up paying off in the third frame, with Richard Panik and Tyler Johnson combined for two quick goals that put the match out of reach for the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Beyond losing the game, the Bulldogs also lost a key player. Blake Geoffrion was taken to the hospital in the 2nd period after getting a skate to the face in the process of a big check laid against him by Cote. The ‘Dogs can hardly afford to lose another of their top offensive forwards, being weak in that area to start and still missing Louis Leblanc.
Jarred Tinordi was a relatively rare bright spot, showing more puck control skills than he usually does, having a good fight against AHL veteran Radko Gudas. Tough night for Nathan Beaulieu who had a relatively undeserved -4 on the night. Overall a rough night for the top Bulldogs defensive pair who usually are on for the the times when Hamilton are winning at even strength, with Fredric St.Denis and Beaulieu being on for three goals against. It was an uncharacteristically quiet night for the Bulldogs’ leading forward group in the “CHL” line, which managed only 1 shot for on the night.
The Crunch’s defensive structure smothered any chance they may have had at getting much opportunity close to the net. In general, the Crunch looked like a well coached group, a credit to rising coaching star Jon Cooper. The defending Calder Cup champions showed that while Hamilton is competitive against the teams they have faced before, they are a long ways from the AHL’s elite.
The loss cannot be hung on Robert Mayer who played relatively well and made notably good saves, especially against Richard Panik who managed a number of clean breakaways against the Bulldogs.
On special teams the Bulldogs powerplay was again kept off the board, albeit with only two chances, while the penalty killing remained solid, keeping the Crunch from scoring there. Hamilton’s best possession sequence though was when they held the puck for a good 30-40 seconds when they had a 6 on 5 due to a delayed penalty.