Thomas Twirls a Pair as Dogs Turn Stormbreakers in 6-4 Win

February 9, 2024 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Brantford Bulldogs News Release

GUELPH, ONTARIO. Opening up their second straight 3-in-3 on Friday night the Brantford Bulldogs hit the road for a short trip to the Sleeman Centre to close their season series with the Guelph Storm.

Adrian Rebelo got the game off to a quick jump, after a fast changeoff the start of the frame, Ben Bujold sent the speedy winger in alone on Brayden Gillespie with the Storm netminder coming up with a blocker save to keep his net clear. Matteo Drobac starred in the opening frame denying all 12 Storm shots he faced with a handful of the ten-bell variety. Early in the opening frame, Jake Karabela guided the puck from the right-wing corner to the front of the net where Braeden Bowman went between his legs only to have the Bulldogs netminder bolt off his line and deny the shot with his blocker. Drobac followed that up with another net front save on Hunter McKenzie who came wide open, firing from just below the hashmarks, Drobac hugged the puck to his body to keep the game scoreless. Drobac's work paid off late in the frame at 16:42 as Cole Brown tossed the puck left for Lawson Sherk. Noah Nelson darted through the middle of the ice, creating a 2-on-1 with Sherk pulling the defender left, he dealt a pass middle where Nelson settled and fired top corner for his 5th of the season giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead they took to the locker room through 20 minutes.

The middle frame was all Bulldogs, opening the frame on the power-play a beautiful offensive zone cycle led to doubling the lead. Patrick Thomas low worked the puck on the right side for Marek Vanacker, finding Jake O'Brien in turn who cashed his 9th of the season, moving to within 3 points of tying Arthur Kaliyev's Bulldogs rookie scoring record in giving the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. After killing a 5-on-3 for the Storm where Matteo Drobac held the door shut yet again, the Bulldogs struck with the game back 5-on-4 with Lawson Sherk in neutral ice spinning a pass from the left wing to Patrick Thomas through the middle. Carrying on his forehand, Thomas zipped the puck through the five-hole on Gillespie for his 12th of the season to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 edge at 7:42. The offense stayed white hot in the frame, this time on the power-play at 9:32, Jake O'Brien worked the puck from the left corner just behind the right post to Marek Vanacker who swung it middle, to the net front where Patrick Thomas had the goal mouth tip for his 2nd of the game, 13th of the season and 3rd point of the period to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead. Four minutes later, at 13:32, Owen Protz denied a Guelph zone exit attempt firing a left point shot to the net where it was tipped by Florian Xhekaj for his 20th of the season to give the Bulldogs a 5-0 lead and spell the end of the night for Brayden Gillespie with Damian Slavik coming on in relief. Not to be lost in the middle frame, Matteo Drobac turned aside another 12 shots, holding aside all 24 he faced through 40 minutes with the Bulldogs holding the 5-0 lead.

The third period swung back and forth wildly with the Guelph Storm finding life, at 4:02, Gavin Grundner battled the puck to the front of the Bulldogs net where Jett Luchanko batted home his 17th of the season to cut the lead to 5-1. The Storm cut in further at 5:42, as Max Namestnikov with time and space whistled a shot from Jake Karabela to collect his 23rd of the season making it a 5-2 game. A scary moment from there as Tomas Hamara was blindsided in the right-wing corner of the Bulldogs zone by Jake Karabela, needing assistance off the ice and down the tunnel the Bulldogs #1 defenceman did not return to the game with just a 2-minute penalty going to Karabela. The game stayed as it was until 18:57 when just after a Guelph power-play expired Vilmer Alriksson batted a loose puck in the crease over Matteo Drobac to cut the game to 5-3. The Bulldogs answered back with a steal in neutral ice from Adrian Rebelo & Ben Bujold, exchanging the puck down the ice before Rebelo tossed it into the back of the net for his 2nd of the season, giving the Bulldogs a 6-3 lead at 19:36. Though Hunter McKenzie tossed one more into the Brantford net at 19:55, Matteo Drobac held aside 37 of 41 in a 6-4 Bulldogs victory to take back sole possession of top spot in the East Division.

The Brantford Bulldogs continue the 3-in-3 weekend back at home hosting the Flint Firebirds on Saturday, February 10th at 4:00pm.

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