Bulldogs take playoff opener, 5-2

The Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 5-2 in the opening game of their first round Calder Cup playoff series at Copps Coliseum on Thursday (April 14). Nigel Dawes had a goal and an assist while Andreas Engqvist and Kyle Klubertanz had two assists each in the American Hockey League win.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven affair goes Saturday, April 16 at 4 p.m. at Copps.

The Bulldogs scored first just 98 seconds into the game, capitalizing on a power-play. Kyle Klubertanz fired a shot on net that was tipped by Dustin Boyd. Oklahoma City goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made the save but Dawes grabbed the rebound and fired it past the netminder. Hamilton took a 2-0 lead at 9:43. Andrew Conboy deked past a Barons’ defender before snapping a shot on net. The rebound bounced out to Olivier Fortier, who fired it past a diving Drouin-Deslauriers.

Ryan Russell gave Hamilton a three goal lead at 16:41. He took a pass from Engqvist while positioned in front of the net. Russell took the pass on his backhand before moving the puck to his forehand and firing a shot into the net.

Martin Gerber replaced Deslauriers in the Oklahoma City net to start the second period.

The Barons got on the scoreboard at 7:23 middle frame. Ryan O’Marra sent the puck behind the net to Ben Ondrus. Ondrus skated to the side of the net before stuffing the puck between the legs of goalie Drew MacIntyre.

The ‘Dogs took a 4-1 lead at 13:39 of the second stanza while on the power play. Klubertanz received a pass from Dawes before sending a cross-ice pass to Aaron Palushaj, who was positioned to the left of the net. Palushaj one-timed a shot that sailed over the shoulder of Gerber and into the net.

Hamilton added its fifth goal at 1:29 of the final frame on the power play. Engqvist dropped the puck to Joe Stejskal, who was stationed at the right point. Stejskal blasted a shot that sailed through traffic and past Gerber. The goal was Stejskal’s first of his professional career.

Oklahoma City scored its second goal at 7:00 of the third period. Ondrus sent the puck to Linus Omark, who proceeded to feed a cross-ice pass to Bryan Helmer. Helmer one-timed the puck past MacIntyre.

Hamilton outshot their guests 29-26 before a crowd of 3,292.