Nattinen helps Bulldogs melt IceCaps

Two goals by Joonas Nattinen 43 seconds apart in the first period helped the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the top team in the American Hockey League – the St. John’s IceCaps – 4-3 on Friday (Feb. 17).

Nattinen netted his first goal – and third of the season – at 3:39. Nattinen snapped a six-game pointless streak and a 19-game goalless streak on the play. Just 43 seconds later, he made it 2-0 with Aaron Palushaj earning his second assist of the game. He would have three on the night.

Then, at 7:55 into the period and while playing 4-on-4 hockey, Mark Mitera’s shot from the point beat IceCaps’ starting netminder Edward Pasquale, who was replaced by David Aebischer. Mitera’s second of the season was his first point in 18 games and his first goal in 28 games. Nattinen picked up an assist

The Bulldogs continued their charge in the second period. Philip DeSimone scored his ninth of the season at 2:22 after Andreas Engqvist carried the puck to the front of the IceCaps net on a power play.

St. John’s then went on a three-goal run in a five-minute spurt starting at 8:15 when Kevin Clark deflected Brett Festerling’s high slot shot just inside the crossbar behind goaltender Nathan Lawson. Shawn Weller continued the comeback for the IceCaps, deflecting Paul Postma’s shot to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 4-2. Postma then scored his 11th of the season and the final goal of the game on the power play to bring the IceCaps within one.

The IceCaps lead the league with 70 points while the Bulldogs have 49.

A crowd of 4,060 attended the game at Copps.

St. John’s edged Hamilton in shots on goal, 26-25. This was the first time this season that the Bulldogs scored three goals in the first period.

The Bulldogs’ continue their 3-in-3 weekend on Saturday (Feb. 18) Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m. at Copps Coliseum before travelling to Rochester the next day.