Mean­while, make it five in a row

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TERI PECOSKIE tpecoskie@thes­pec.com 905-526-3368 | @Te­ri­atTheSpec

Daw­son Carty isn’t talk­ing about an ex-girl­friend, he’s talk­ing about an ex-team — and af­ter his most re­cent per­for­mance, there’s a good chance the Kitch­ener Rangers re­gret their breakup.

“Any time you get traded, you want to show them what they’re miss­ing and show them what they passed up,” he said. “It feels good to beat them.”

Carty turned aside 20 shots in a 5-2 win at home over his for­mer club Mon­day — the fifth straight for him and the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs. It’s the only time in its twoyear his­tory the team has strung to­gether five wins in a row.

“We feel good right now, we feel con­fi­dent. We know if we play our game, we’re go­ing to have a good shot to beat any­one in the league,” he added. “We’re on a good roll right now and hope­fully we can keep it go­ing.”

The Bull­dogs ac­quired Carty, 21, from the Rangers just af­ter Christ­mas. At first, he and Kaden Fulcher shared the start­ing du­ties. Then, how­ever, the Bull­dogs came up with a new goal­tend­ing phi­los­o­phy — win, and you’re in. And Carty hasn’t lost. “He’s re­ally kind of so­lid­i­fied the po­si­tion and just done a re­ally good job,” said head coach John Gru­den. “If he has to play the rest of the sea­son, he has to play the rest of the sea­son. That wouldn’t be a bad prob­lem to have.”

Bran­don Saigeon scored his sev­enth goal in four games to give the Bull­dogs the early lead over the Rangers — a power play marker. Darby Llewellyn quickly replied be­fore Hamil­ton notched the next four straight, with Con­nor Roberts, Mar­ian Stu­denic, Matthew Strome and Will Bit­ten all beat­ing 16-year-old old Lu­cas Pfeil, who was mak­ing his OHL de­but. Jonathan Yantsis rounded out the scor­ing for Kitch­ener with just over a minute to go in the mid­dle frame.

While the win breaks new ground for the Bull­dogs, it’s not en­tirely new ter­ri­tory. In fact, they’ve had a ten­dency to win — and lose — in clus­ters all sea­son.

Roberts, how­ever, doesn’t fore­see the typ­i­cal slide this time around.

“It feels dif­fer­ent,” said the rookie for­ward. “It feels like even if we do lose, it’s not go­ing to be a streak. We’re go­ing to face it and come back next game and deal with it in the right way.”

Gru­den didn’t dis­agree, say­ing his guys are play­ing bet­ter de­fen­sively and in the neu­tral zone than they have in the past. Their de­ci­sion-mak­ing, at times, is also im­prov­ing.

“They’re un­der­stand­ing what it takes to win and they’re stick­ing to a game plan and be­cause of that,” he said, “we’re get­ting re­sults.”

Mon­day’s game was the sec­ond in 48 hours for the Bull­dogs, who also beat the visit­ing Ottawa 67’s Satur­day. Stu­denic, the Slo­vakian im­port, led the way with a pair of first pe­riod goals.

“We played re­ally well the first 10 min­utes,” said Gru­den. “We found a way and that’s what it’s all about right now is win­ning and we got the job done.”

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Hamil­ton Bull­dogs’ Will Bit­ten is shoved across the Kitch­ener Rangers’ crease dur­ing the first pe­riod at First On­tario Cen­tre on Mon­day.

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