Bulldogs move closer to top rung with win over River Rats

Jaroslav Halak stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced, leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to a 2-1 win over the Albany River Rats on Friday night at Copps Coliseum. With the win, Hamilton (19-10-0-1) is now only one point behind the Rochester Americans (20-7-1-0) for first place in the North Division standings. The Bulldogs have recorded at least one point in five straight games, going 4-0-1-0 in that span.

Hamilton opened the scoring when Matt D’Agostini scored his eighth goal of the season, a short-handed effort, at 16:15 of the first frame.

After a scoreless second period, Andre Benoit’s second goal of this campaign extended the Bulldogs lead to 2-0 at the 1:38 mark of the third period. Francis Lemieux and Maxim Lapierre drew the assists.

At 14:44, the River Rats responded with a goal by Ben Guite, his eighth of the season, to bring Albany within one.

Halak, who leads the American Hockey League in goals against average (1.48), save percentage (.950) and shutouts (5), was named the game’s first star and narrowly missed recording another shutout while picking up his 10th win of the season.

The Bulldogs return to action on Dec. 26 at 7:05 p.m. when they travel to Rochester to take on the Americans at Blue Cross Arena at Rochester Memorial. The game can be heard on 820 CHAM.

The ‘Dogs next home game is the following night at Copps Coliseum against the Manitoba Moose at 7:30 p.m.