The emergence of a “big line” started in our 4-3 win over Humber Valley White.
Max, Ryan and Malone looked strong all night. They passed, they were on the ice and largely responsible for three of our four goals, they were dangerous and exciting.
On their first shift, Ryan sprung Max on a breakaway. Just like he did all last year, Max made no mistake. This time he deked, and backhanded the puck past the helpless Sharks goalie. The Sharks tied it and went ahead. But on our big line’s next shift out it was Max and Malone who sent Ryan off to the races for another nice goal on a deke. Boom, 2-2 tie.
We fell behind again, but that was it.
On our third goal, it was incredible puck presence by Malone, keeping the puck alive on the boards that allowed Andrew W. to jump on the biscuit, weave his way to the goal and fire it home.
But the game winner came from our third line. The pre-game chat from the coaches was about “cleaning up the garbage – going to the net bashing away at loose pucks.” Cade was paying attention. Gabriel and Connor M. did great work moving the puck down low, then Connor fed Cade who was wide open and shovelled the puck into the empty net. That’s his first goal as a Bulldog.
Cade was dangerous rushing the puck but couldn’t find his way to the net. Now he has. Way to go!
Wildly exciting for the coaches – and his parents – was the performance turned in by John T. He was everywhere. He had the puck. He wanted the puck. He stickhandled with the puck (yes, he nearly gave the coaches a heart attack – but that’s all part of the process). Most of all, he skated hard all night long, led the forecheck and gave signs that everything we’re working on in practice is getting through (thanks John, your coaches appreciate that part!). He also got credit for two assists, his first points as a Bulldog! We’ll move him back to forward in his next game and see if we can turn that hard work into a goal.
John was part of a strong night by our rookies. Connor M. had another good game, and Noah’s coming along very nicely.
Carter continues to be the heart and soul of these Bulldogs, wearing his heart on his sleeve on Sunday night. While he gave it his all, he just couldn’t get through the maze of bodies and find the back of the net. But he played another strong game.
In fact, after being tripped up, he led a power play with Noah and Jon O. that had wave after wave of pressure, with assistance from our D keeping it in. That goal was so close you could taste it, but they just couldn’t nudge the puck over the goal line despite keeping the puck in the offensive zone for almost two straight minutes.
On the back end, Dylan was looked upon to step up and anchor the defence, and he did just that, settling down the defensive end, getting the puck out, and doing a fine job of holding the puck in at the Sharks blue line. Joining him in the group of the goalies’ best friend was Andrew C., who we called in at the last minute, just after he stepped off a plane ride into town from Florida. Solid game there.
And Michael Sm. is still early in his Bulldogs career, but is showing he’ll have one of the strongest sticks on the team. We’ll need that strength.
Finally, Michael St. made the game-saving save we need with time running down. While he wasn’t as busy as usual, when we needed him most, Michael was there.
There are definitely things to work on. We are holding on to the puck for too long inside our blueline, and not getting it out. We are bunching up far too much, and that means Bulldogs are running into each other constantly, not into our opponents. That has to stop. We’re our own worst enemy and taking out two Bulldogs frequently leads to opportunities for our opponents.