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Lo­cal ele­men­tary school stu­dents showed their sup­port for the home team Wed­nes­day at the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs’ an­nual School Day game at FirstOn­tario Cen­tre. De­spite the colour­ful words of en­cour­age­ment, the Bull­dogs lost 5-2 to the Owen Sound At­tack. Wed­nes­day’s loss was their third in a row.

It’s a del­i­cate bal­ance, said John Gru­den — find­ing a way to push his play­ers over the hump with­out push­ing too hard and send­ing them into a tail­spin. That’s the last thing he needs. They’re al­ready spin­ning enough.

Gru­den’s Hamil­ton Bull­dogs dropped a 5-2 de­ci­sion to the vis­it­ing Owen Sound At­tack in a rare morn­ing matchup Wed­nes­day. That loss, in front of a school day crowd of 8,400 lo­cal stu­dents, was the third in a row for the club, and sixth in seven games.

“We’ve got to get over it,” said the Bull­dogs head coach. “If we sit and let it stir, it’s go­ing to get worse. We have to find a way.”

Af­ter kick­ing off the sec­ond half of the On­tario Hockey League sea­son with a solid 8-3 run, Hamil­ton — which is stag­nat­ing in fifth place in a weak East­ern Con­fer­ence — has strug­gled to string to­gether a solid 60 min­utes in its last seven out­ings. The rea­son? Ac­cord­ing to Bran­don Saigeon, it’s not an easy thing to do.

“We’re al­ways try­ing to get bet­ter at that,” said the Grimsby-born for­ward. “Con­sis­tency is an im­por­tant fac­tor in win­ning teams and I think that’s prob­a­bly the big­gest thing Coach has preached to us.

“I think we’re start­ing to re­al­ize that if we’re go­ing to be suc­cess­ful, we have to play 60 min­utes,” he added.

The At­tack, mean­while, are at the other end of the con­sis­tency con­tin­uum. Over the past 20 games — a span in which they’ve outscored their com­pe­ti­tion a stag­ger­ing 95-14 — they’ve racked up 18 wins and sur­ren­dered just a sin­gle reg­u­la­tion loss.

On Wed­nes­day, de­fence­man Santino Cen­torame led the way with a goal and an as­sist — his league-lead­ing 26th on the power play. Markus Phillips, Petrus Palmu, Nick Suzuki and Cordell James, a Hamil­ton na­tive, also found the back of the net for the At­tack, while Niki Petti and Michael Cra­marossa scored for the Bull­dogs.

Goalie Kaden Fulcher recorded the loss for Hamil­ton, de­spite be­ing tugged af­ter 40 min­utes. He stopped nine of 12 shots, while his re­place­ment Daw­son Carty turned aside six of eight. At the other end of the rink, Mon­treal Cana­di­ens prospect Michael McNiven had 29 saves in his 28th win.

The Bull­dogs are back at it Fri­day when they travel to Mis­sis­sauga to take on the surg­ing Steel­heads, who have lost just once in reg­u­la­tion in their last 10 out­ings. Their next home game is Satur­day against the Wind­sor Spit­fires. NOTES: The Bull­dogs Foun­da­tion an­nounced a $200,000 do­na­tion to the Dawgs Break­fast Pro­gram — the char­ity’s largest-ever com­mit­ment. The fund­ing will help feed chil­dren at pub­lic and Catholic schools across Hamil­ton.



Hamil­ton’s Michael Cra­marossa reaches around the goal­post and Owen Sound goal­tender Michael McNiven to tap the puck across the goal line for the Bull­dogs’ first goal Wed­nes­day at FirstOn­tario Cen­tre.

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