The scoreboard didn’t tell the story

Welcome to the finals. The Bulldogs were quite pumped tonight to be playing in the city finals. It’s good fun.

West Mall is a tough team. They have a couple of huge kids – who look like 13 year olds! Our guys noticed, but didn’t shy away from the big guys at all. West Mall played a physical game, and our players kept battling.

We were down 2-0 midway through the first period, but with two minutes left in the period, Max roared down the left wing and went top cheese on their goalie. We were back in the game.

The second period was a solid battle. We had a couple of penalties, but fought through it all. Andrew C. blasted a shot off the post. We had a couple of good rushes, and needed to be just a bit quicker.

A quick breakdown in the third cost us, as we left Michael to fend for himself against a few bullet shots.

But it’s one game. We get them again on Sunday. All of our kids were eager for another shot at them. We outshot them, we outchanced them, now we need to outscore them. We need to cash in on our opportunities, not fritter them away.

We’ll be ready Sunday.

Cardiac kids pull it off!

Making it easy just isn’t our style!

Needing just a tie to go on, Game 3 of the series turned into a nailbiter.

Forest Hill cut their roster down to 12 for this game (against the NYHL rules – for what it’s worth). They played their best players a lot. A lot! Those players gave our defence fits. Especially number 10, who scored a hat trick in the second period, and kept coming at us all game long. 

The Bulldogs way isn’t to roll over (well, maybe roll over and play dead is a dog thing, but not for these Bulldogs).

We started out in an even battle, a good first couple of shifts had us feeling good, and some solid saves from Michael steadied the squad. Then Ryan Y. found a way through the defence, broke down the left wing and fired it far side for a 1-0 lead with 2:40 left in the 1st period. 

Whatever the coaches said after the first period sure stunk. Off the opening faceoff, 10 took the puck, wheeled around our defence and scored a breakaway goal 10 seconds into the period. It took just one more minute for him to score another and the Dogs were down 2-1. 

A line change (really great coaching move there!) put Andrew W. on the ice, and 10 seconds later, the Bulldogs were back tied. 

With 30 seconds left, 10 finished his hat trick, and we went to the 3rd period down a goal. 

But there was no panic on the bench at that point. The kids were cool. They knew what they had to do. 

Then came the big goal we needed. Andrew C. broke down the left wing, went around the net and tucked in a vicious wraparound, to tie the game. A huge goal, since a tie would take us to the finals.

So, with 8:31 on the clock, it was defend against the pressure. We bent – a couple of times – but Michael was cool in the nets, a couple of goalmouth scrambles were pushed away from the crease, and the dog pound held the fort.

To make sure we earned it, Cade took a hooking penalty with 1 minute left in the game! Forest Hill pulled their goalie. Gulp!

Off the faceoff, Max sent the puck down the ice and it just missed the net. Forest Hill brought it back and got a good chance. That led to another faceoff, it was scrambled. William P. and Andrew W. fought hard for it, and Andrew sent the puck spinning down the ice and into the back of the Forest Hill net. 

That was it. A 4-3 victory. A really great series against a very talented Forest Hill team. A tie and two one-goal victories. It could be any closer.

But that’s it. We’re on to the finals. Buckle up! 

A thriller – with a great ending!

Once again, get my cardiologist on standby!

It looked like it was going to be a smooth evening, as the Bulldogs jumped out to a strong 2-0 lead in the first period, while also having a boatload of chances. Goals by William P. and Ryan S. had the ‘Dogs feeling good.

But then Forest Hill fought back. They are clearly a team that won’t go away. The score was narrowed to 2-1. It looked like the Falcons had tied it, but the puck actually landed on the back of the net, and the call was reversed.

We were feeling good when Ryan Y. scored, but the game got tight by the end of the second period, with Forest Hill scoring again. At 3-2 heading to the third period, the players were warned this wouldn’t be an easy period. It wasn’t.

Forest Hill scored on a power play – leaving three players alone in front of our net is not in our playbook – and we were all tied up again heading down the stretch.

And it was thrilling.

With 1:30 left in the game, Carter and Ibrahim broke down the ice on a 2-on-1. Carter looked to Ibrahim, then held on, but the goalie had strong positioning and there was nowhere to go. Carter went behind the net, spun, came back to the side he started on and tucked it into an open net.

From there, it was a hold the fort – and it was a tough hold. But the boys held strong.

Overall, the players all worked hard, passed really well, and when they used their speed were tough to keep down. In nets, both Michael and Nicholas were called upon to make tough saves, and did a nice job all night.

So, an Easter feast and then it’s back on the ice. The last win is always the hardest in any series. This will be no different.

Let’s go Bulldogs!

Bulldogs lead series 3-1, first to four points wins

Video: Bulldogs vs Forest Hill, Semi-finals Game 1, and official goal correction

As for the tying goal, video tape shows Max kept it in, Carter did some nice work to get the puck to the net, where Andrew C. was there to clean up the garbage. Goal number 2 now goes to Andrew. Strong work. Right spot. Well done.

Playoffs vs. Forest Hill – it’s going to be a battle!

Here’s a little sneak peek into our dressing room ahead of the game: The kids were pumped, William P. led the team in our Bulldogs chant, but one kid was a little perturbed he was on the third line.

No problem, the coaches said. We have a plan. Usually the opposition thinks of the third line as the weakest line. That’s not the case for us. We told him our third line is going to be huge. You’re our secret assassins.

Turns out the third line took it to heart.

After falling down 2-0 in the second period, those assassins jumped up and brought us back to even. The goals were ugly. That’s how we like it! The first goal came off Carter’s stick, the second slammed home by Andrew C., but both were generated by good work by the entire line and the D.

So, in Game 1 of our series, with the first team to four points moving to the final, we’re tied 1-1, after the 2-2 tie.

But we like where we are. We got an incredible effort from all the kids. The D were moving the puck well and jumping up in the rush. The forwards were grinding the Forest Hill defence, causing a lot of turnovers.

We got caught a little too much – the two Forest Hill goals came on breakaways – but one time it was just a fluke when our D tripped.

We also had a ton of chances ourselves: Ryan S. with some filthy toe drags, William P. with an incredible burst of speed, Connor with some fancy moves. We’re still looking for the kids to share the puck a bit more, and to get their shots off quicker.

But this is what we’ve been working toward. It was an excellent effort from Michael in the nets all the way out. We probably outshot the Falcons 3-1 over the game. And fired just as many wide.

We also lost Carter to injury halfway through the game, after he’d already notched two points and was having his strongest game in months. That little bit extra would have helped as we made a push in the third.

But that’s just game one, in what might be a long series.

Can’t wait until Wednesday!