Meanwhile, make it five in a row
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.”
Hamilton Bulldogs’ Will Bitten is shoved across the Kitchener Rangers’ crease during the first period at First Ontario Centre on Monday.