Hamilton’s top ‘Dogs battle back to take Manitoba Moose in shootout

Hamilton Bulldogs find themselves on the lofty perch of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division. And they deserve full marks for a come-from-behind 3-2 shoot-out win over the visiting Manitoba Moose on Wednesday night at Copps Coliseum.

The win sets the stage for Friday night’s contest at Copps when neighbouring rivals, the Toronto Marlies, come to town. And subject to tonight’s (Thursday’s) game between the Marlies and the Moose in Toronto, the Hogtown team could move into fourth place while the Bulldogs could strengthen their hold on first place.

The Rochester Americans are one point back of the Bulldogs but have a crucial three games in hand. For Hamilton, that means they can’t afford to lose.

They seemed to sense that on Wednesday when they fell behind 2-0 in the first period when they were outshot 15-5. They took matters into their own hands in the second period getting goals from Duncan Milroy (14) on the powerplay and Jonathan Ferland (9), the goals coming at 15:45 and 18:36 and outshooting Manitoba 11-6.

Ferland’s marker was one of those how-did-that-happen.

Bulldogs goalie Jaroslav Halak tossed the puck to defenceman Ryan O’Bryne who fed a long pass to Milroy near the Manitoba blueline. Milroy was intend on dumping the puck into the Manitoba end and lofted it towards the goal.

Moose netminder Wade Flaherty was waiting for it but when the puck landed it took a high bounce over his shoulder and into the net.

The goal seemed to lift the ‘Dogs who pressured the visitors during a scoreless third period when Hamilton had the edge on shots 12-2, although the teams finished the night with 30 shots each.

Mikhail Grabovski, Hamilton’s fourth player, scored the only goal in the shootout with Halak stopping all five Moose marksmen.

Nathan Smith and Alexandre Bolduc scored the Manitoba goals in regulation time.

Friday’s game has a 7:30 p.m. start.