ROGERS OHL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – GAME 1:
HAMILTON 4 – SAULT STE. MARIE 3 OT
Hamilton leads series 1-0
Arizona Coyotes prospect MacKenzie Entwistle’s (6, 7) second of the night came just 1:57 into overtime as the Hamilton Bulldogs braved a packed house in Sault Ste. Marie to take Game 1 of the Rogers OHL Championship Series by a score of 4-3.
The Bulldogs charged out to a 3-0 lead before the host Greyhounds rallied for three straight, knotting things up in the third to force OT before Entwistle banged in a rebound on the doorstep.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Entwistle of his Game 1 experience. “It was a great atmosphere out there. You could tell in warmups it was going to be fun to be out there and everyone’s just embracing it.
“We got away from things in the second,” he added, describing the 3-0 lead that got away. “I thought we battled back and recovered well and now we’re excited for Game 2.”
Bulldogs head coach John Gruden praised his club for the strong start, but says there’s still room for improvement.
“We came out really strong and scored those three goals and then got a little loose and they were able to get some life and some energy. We had to find a way to win that game and we did, that’s the good news, but I believe we can be better.”
Entwistle opened the scoring with 2:33 left in the opening frame, capitalizing on a broken play as he caught Sault Ste. Marie’s Matthew Villalta off his post on the short side, tucking a low shot over the goal line to take some energy out of the Essar Centre.
St. Louis Blues prospect Robert Thomas (9) got things started with a bang 14 seconds into the second period, wristing a hard shot from the top of the circle that trickled over the goal line and made the score 2-0 Hamilton.
Brandon Saigeon (13) increased the Hamilton lead at 3:43, ripping a wrister over the glove of Villalta from down the left wing as Thomas and Isaac Nurse gathered assists.
Sault Ste. Marie came alive a little under five minutes later as Barrett Hayton (6) entered the zone and fired a shot past the glove of Hamilton’s Kaden Fulcher. Boris Katchouk (16) would follow suit exactly two minutes later at 10:24, scoring from a nearly identical spot with another hard release that evaded the glove of Fulcher and brought the Hounds within a goal.
Taylor Raddysh (13) would get the equalizer 5:53 into the third period as Keeghan Howdeshell fought off a check along the wall before centering for the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect who fired a shot high over a sprawling Fulcher to knot the score at three.
The Hounds outshot the Bulldogs 10-3 in the third period and 31-30 on the game, but weren’t able to solve Fulcher the rest of the way as Entwistle’s winner would come off an initial shot by Matthew Strome, prompting a rebound that snuck behind Villalta as Entwistle was on the doorstep to finish the play.
“We were pretty fortunate to be in a position to win that hockey game with how poorly we played,” said Greyhounds bench boss Drew Bannister following the loss. “The end result was what it should have been, but to have the opportunity and to lose and lose it the way we did, we’ll have to regroup here and get some rest over the next day and get ourselves ready for Game 2 on Saturday.”
The Greyhounds see a seven game home winning streak come to an end while the Bulldogs draw first blood in a series for the fourth consecutive time in these playoffs.
The two teams will rest up on Friday before returning to action at the Essar Centre for Game 2 on Saturday at 7:07pm.
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE: