Thursday Highlights: Bulldogs advance to first Conference Final
HAMILTON 4 – NIAGARA 2
(HAM wins series 4-1)
After losing five of six against them during the regular season, the Hamilton Bulldogs found a way to solve the Niagara IceDogs in the playoffs, eliminating them Thursday on home ice with a 4-2 victory in Game 5. Holding a 1-0 lead until the midway point of the third period, Hamilton struck for a pair of quick goals a minute apart as Matthew Strome (4) scored in his return to the lineup before Nicholas Caamano (4) put home the eventual game winner. Niagara put together a comeback bid that would fall just short as Johnny Corneil (1) and Ben Jones (5) drew the IceDogs to within a goal. MacKenzie Entwistle (2) hit the open net to seal the deal and send the Bulldogs to their first ever Eastern Conference Final appearance. Robert Thomas (6) also scored for the Bulldogs while adding an assist while goaltender Kaden Fulcher made 30 saves. Blueliner Ben Gleason picked up a pair of assists, helping Hamilton advance to play for the Bobby Orr Trophy. The IceDogs see their season come to an end as goaltender Stephen Dhillon made 30 saves in the loss. Overage forwards Sam Miletic, Adrian Carbonara and captain Johnny Corneil played their final OHL contest.
KITCHENER 5 – SARNIA 3
(Series tied 2-2)
Givani Smith (5) and Connor Bunnaman (4) combined a pair of third period goals to push the Kitchener Rangers past the Sarnia Sting 5-3 on the road in Game 4. Kitchener ties the second round series at two as Smith and Bunnaman joined Kole Sherwood (10) with a goal and an assist each. Austin McEneny (1) and Jonathan Yantsis (3) also scored for the Rangers as they won despite being outshot 15-7 in the third period. Mario Culina made 33 saves in goal while Logan Brown earned two assists. Connor Schlichting (1), Brayden Guy (1) and Jordan Kyrou (2) scored Sarnia goals as the Sting came up short put outshot Kitchener 36-32. The series continues with Game 5 on Friday night in Kitchener.
KINGSTON 7 – BARRIE 1
(KGN leads series 3-2)
Los Angeles Kings prospect Gabriel Vilardi (11) strung together his third straight two-goal game, leading the Kingston Frontenacs to a commanding 7-1 road win over the Barrie Colts in Game 5. After losing Games 1 and 2 of the series, Kingston takes a 3-2 edge as Jason Robertson (7) and Matt Hotchkiss (2) each had a goal and an assist while Linus Nyman picked up three helpers. Kingston’s seven goals came on 38 shots as Max Jones (1), Brett Neumann (2) and Sean Day (3) also got in on the offence. The two teams combined for six first period goals as the Fronts led 5-1 after 20 minutes. Jason Willms (4) provided Barrie’s lone goal on an assist from defenceman Tyler Tucker as Kingston netminder Jeremy Helvig made 32 saves. The series continues with Game 6 on Friday night in Kingston.