If there is one symbolic game a team does not want to lose, it’s the season home opener. And on that score, pun intended, the Hamilton Bulldogs did not disappoint Friday night.
The Bulldogs got the 2006-07 campaign started with a 5-3 win over the visiting Manitoba Moose at Copps Coliseum, using an empty net short-handed marker for the insurance goal in the dying seconds of the game to secure the American Hockey League win.
In addition to the two points in the Win column in the standings, goalie Yann Danis recorded his 48th career victory to become the franchise leader, surpassing ex-Dog Steve Passmore.
Goals from Duncan Milroy, Michael Lambert, Jonathan Ferland, Zack Stortini, and Maxim Lapierre supported Danis’ 29 saves performance.
Hamilton scored two powerplay goals on seven opportunities while Manitoba had one in nine chances.
The visitors opened the scoring quickly with Jesse Schultz beating Danis two minutes and 13 seconds after the puck had dropped. Two minutes later Milroy’s powerplay goal pulled the ‘Dogs even and that started a game of you-score-I-score.
Brad Moran restored the Manitoba lead only to see Lambert square matters at 2-2 before the opening period came to a close.
Ryan Rypien nudged the Moose into the lead again at the midway point of the second period but Ferland needed just 30 seconds to lift Hamilton back into a tie. Stortini’s goal at 7.32 of the final period would prove to be the winner.
Kyle Chichura had a two-point game for the ‘Dogs drawing assists on Milroy’s and Stortini’s goals. Andre Benoit also had a pair of helpers with Lapierre had an assist for a two-point night as well.
Hamilton was outshot 32-29.
Hamilton gets a week to rest before returning to AHL play. Next Friday (Oct. 13) the Hershey Bears, winners of the Calder Cup last season, will drop by Copps for a 7:30 game.