Bull­dogs get their growl back

HAMIL­TON 6, WIND­SOR 3

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

The Hamil­ton Bull­dogs have a new goal­tend­ing phi­los­o­phy. You win, you’re in. Af­ter al­ter­nat­ing puck stop­pers for the past month and a half, head coach John Gru­den said it was time for some­one “to take the bull by the horns.”

And, over the week­end, that was Dawson Carty.

Af­ter back­stop­ping the Bull­dogs to a shootout win in his home­town Fri­day, the 21-year-old from Mis­sis­sauga had 25 saves against the vis­it­ing Wind­sor Spit­fires the fol­low­ing night.

The 6-3 win was his 20th of the sea­son, and sev­enth since be­ing ac­quired by Hamil­ton in late De­cem­ber.

“I like it,” Carty said when asked about the team’s new net­mind­ing ap­proach. “It gives a lit­tle ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion and we need wins right now — so I’m all for it.”

Kaden Fulcher, the other half of the Hamil­ton tan­dem, is too.

“It’s go­ing to be fun to get some more in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion and I think it’s a good plan,” he said.

“He’s rolling right now, so you’ve got to keep him rolling. I’m happy to sit on that bench if we can keep putting wins to­gether.”

Carty’s play — par­tic­u­larly in the lat­ter half of Satur­day’s game — was cru­cial to the re­sult. It was also over­shad­owed by that of Grimsby na­tive Bran­don Saigeon, who regis­tered the first hat trick of his On­tario Hockey League ca­reer in the win.

Saigeon, 18, scored twice in the first pe­riod to put the Bull­dogs ahead, and again in the third into an empty net.

His line­mates like­wise had a big night, with Michael Cra­marossa notch­ing a goal and three as­sists and Will Bit­ten chip­ping in a trio of helpers.

Matt Luff and Mar­ian Stu­denic rounded out the scor­ing for Hamil­ton, while Gabriel Vi­lardi, Mikhail Ser­gachev and Gra­ham Knott found the back of the net for Wind­sor.

“It felt good,” Saigeon said when asked about his feat. “It felt even bet­ter, though, to get the win.

“I think some guys re­ally stepped up and our line hap­pened to click tonight, but it’s not al­ways one line. We have a pretty deep team, so all lines can have good games and play well and that’s what we need to beat teams like that,” he added.

The Bull­dogs had some help from a ma­jor penalty called with 5:29 to go in the match. They were vis­i­bly gassed and up by just a sin­gle goal over Wind­sor, the fourth-place team in the Western Con­fer­ence, when winger Jeremiah Addison hit Ben Glea­son from be­hind and into the boards. They tacked on two goals — in­clud­ing Saigeon’s empty net­ter — with the man ad­van­tage.

In gen­eral, Hamil­ton’s play on spe­cial teams was a dif­fer­ence maker against the Spit­fires. The club was a per­fect three-for-three on the power play — an im­pres­sive ac­com­plish­ment against the OHL’s top PK — and man­aged to kill off both of its own mi­nor in­frac­tions.

“That was pretty big for us,” said Saigeon. “It was a good team win start to fin­ish.”

Gru­den agreed. “I thought we man­aged it re­ally well,” he said of the game. “We weath­ered the storm. We didn’t give any break­aways away or any re­ally big-time op­por­tu­ni­ties. So, for the most part, I’m re­ally pleased with the ef­fort.”

The fifth-place Bull­dogs — who are now float­ing above the .500 mark af­ter their win­ning week­end — are back at it Thurs­day when they visit the Eastern Con­fer­ence lead­ers, the Peter­bor­ough Petes. Carty will get the start in goal. NOTES: Spit­fires goalie Michael DiPi­etro was pulled af­ter al­low­ing three goals on seven shots in the first pe­riod Satur­day. Ac­cord­ing to Jim Parker at the Wind­sor Star, it was the first time in 39 starts this sea­son the 17-year-old, who leads the league in shutouts, save per­cent­age and goals-against av­er­age, has given up three goals in the open­ing frame. Mario Culina turned aside nine shots in re­lief.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPECTATOR

Bull­dog Bran­don Saigeon has his shot blocked by Wind­sor Spit­fire goalie Michael DiPi­etro dur­ing Satur­day’s 6-3 Hamil­ton win.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPECTATOR

Bull­dog Niki Petti flies down the ice dur­ing Satur­day’s 6-3 vic­tory over the Wind­sor Spit­fires.

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