It took a long time coming, but the timing could not have been better. Eric Manlow scored his first goal as a Bulldog this season, helping Hamilton to a 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Albany River Rats on Friday night at Copps Coliseum.
Manlow, an American Hockey League veteran signed in the off-season by Hamilton and counted on to produce offense, ended a 48-game scoreless drought, with a goal at the 16.10 mark of the third period that gave Hamilton a 2-1 lead. Manlow also has 10 assists on the season.
Although Albany would tie the game with 22 seconds left in regulation time, Mihail Grabovski and Corey Locke would score in the shootout to give Hamilton the win before 5,545 fans. The two points kept Hamilton in a second place tie with Rochester in the North Division of the Western Conference. Rochester, however, has a game in hand. With the win, Hamilton’s record improves to 38-24-3-4 on the season.
Albany opened the scoring at 10:26 of the first period when Ryan Bayda beat Hamilton netminder Yann Danis.
After a scoreless middle stanza, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the third frame. Michael Lambert tied the game with his 10th goal of the year, an unassisted effort, by swatting a bouncing puck past Albany goaltender Tyler Weiman at the 11:44 mark. Hamilton then took the lead on Manlow’s goal which came on the power play. Cory Urquhart and Grabovski assisted.
Albany had pulled its goaltender in favour of the extra skater when Pat Dwyer batted a Keith Aucoin pass out of the air and into the net to tie the game 2-2.
Danis turned aside four of the five River Rats shooters to secure the victory. Aucoin was the lone goal-scorer in the shootout for Albany.
Danis made 17 saves on 19 shots to earn the win for the ‘Dogs, while Tyler Weiman stopped 33 of 35 shots. The Bulldogs were 1-for-6 on the power play while the River Rats went 0-for-3 with the extra-man.
Hamilton returns to action tonight (March 240 at 7 p.m. when they travel down the QEW to face the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. Fans can listen to the game on 820 CHAM.
Next home game for Hamilton is Friday, March 30 when Grand Rapids Griffins visit Copps for a 7.30 p.m. game.