Bulldogs Edge By Titan

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan came into their last round robin game against the Hamilton Bulldogs at 2-0 in the 2018 Memorial Cup and were looking to clinch their way to a spot in the championship game with a win.

“Not so fast!” said Hamilton. The Bulldogs hung on for the 3-2 win at the Brandt Centre in Regina to improve their record to 2-1 and complicate things just a little bit.

The game opened with a Acadie-Bathurst goalie Evan Fitzpatrick making a beautiful save on Hamilton’s Isaac Nurse. Nurse had the entire side of the net open and Fitzpatrick dove across and made a save with the paddle of his stick. A great way to get things going in the game.

Hamilton would, however, get the first goal of the game, scoring on the power play 14:33 into the game. Noah Dobson had taken a holding minor at 14:11 and was in the box when Benjamin Gleason scored from Brandon Saigeon and Matthew Strome. That made it 1-0 Bulldogs.

Hamilton would double their lead a little under three minutes later at 17:27 when Nicholas Caamano scored from Mackenzie Entwistle and Robert Thomas. It was now 2-0 Hamilton and the Bulldogs seemed to have things in control.

Things seemed to be going the Bulldogs’ way even further when about five minutes into the second period, Entwistle hit the crossbar off the rush and Fitzpatrick had to scramble to cover the puck up outside of his crease.

Maybe that was a momentum changer because the Titan would get the next one, when Jeffrey Truchon-Viel scored at the 14:11 mark of the second period from Dobson and Olivier Galipeau. That cut the Hamilton lead to 2-1.

But the winning goal would come relatively quick. Just 34 seconds into the third frame, Galipeau took a tripping call, setting Hamilton up for another power play advantage. It was on that, at 1:04, that Robert Thomas scored from Gleason and Saigeon to make it 3-1 Bulldogs.

At the 3;44 mark, Acadie-Bathurst’s Samuel Asselin would beat Bulldogs goaltender Kaden Fulcher to make it 3-2 and set up a frantic finish. He got assists from Truchon-Viel and Dobson.

A crucial moment at the 4:16 mark of the third. Elijah Francis of the Titan clipped Will Bitten of the Bulldogs with his stick and drew blood. That set up a double minor four minute power play for the Bulldogs. It was crucial and the Titan would kill it off, limiting Hamilton to just three shots.

Entwistle would take his own high sticking penalty at 10:23, but that was just two minutes that the Bulldogs were able to kill. Entwistle would make things harder for his team a little later in the period when he took a tripping call with less than two minutes to play.

Interestingly, although the Titan would finish the game on the power play, they would not pull Fitzpatrick for the 6-on-4 advantage to try to tie it. There is a goals for/goals against formula at work in case of a tie in how things work out for the rest of the tournament and the Titan did not want to risk giving up an empty netter so Fitzpatrick stayed anchored to his net.

It was all for naught anyway, as Dobson took a slashing call with 16 seconds left in the game, the faceoff came down in the Titan end and the Bulldogs won the draw, letting time run out and getting the win.

Fitzpatrick ended the game with 31 saves on 34 Hamilton shots while Fulcher made 33 saves on 35 Acadie-Bathurst attempts. Thomas was named the game’s first star while Truchon-Viel was the second and Gleason the third.

Studenic ended the game with two shots on goal and an even plus/minus rating.

That ends the round robin portion of the tournament for the Titan and Bulldogs. Tomorrow’s “Battle of Saskatchewan” between the Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos (which we will be covering here) will go a long way in clearing things up in terms of who advances and who will ultimately lift the Memorial Cup.

Titan Defeat Broncos in OT

On the second day of the 100th Memorial Cup in Regina, Saskatchewan, Colby Sissons – a Devils prospect – and the Swift Current Broncos fell to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan 4-3 in overtime.

The Titan took an early lead just 8:02 into the first period when Samuel Asselin, who would become a force for the Titan throughout the game, scored from Olivier Galipeau and Jordan Maher.

But Swift Current, who had a large contingent of fans in attendance (Swift Current is only a short drive from Regina), would even things up on the power play. Acadie-Bathurst was assessed a bench minor for too many men on the ice at the 10:48 mark of the first and Tyler Steenbergen converted on the ensuing power play. Giorgio Estephan and Sissons had the assists. This was the first of two assists for Sissons and three points for Estephan. The game was tied up at one apiece.

Things would stay that way until the 18:59 mark when Estephan took a feed from Tanner Nagel and one-timed a shot by Titan goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick. Sissons had the secondary assist on the goal. It was now 2-1 Swift Current.

In the second period, the TItan would notch the first of their two shorthanded goals of the game when Asselin scored on a breakaway with an assist to Jeffrey Truchon-Viel. That had been set up by a Justin Ducharme slashing penalty at the 16:21 mark. The goal was scored at 18:07. The TItan would kill off the rest of the infraction.

But, consistent with the way the game (and the tournament itself) has gone so far, the Broncos would regain a 3-2 lead a little more than a minute later. At 19:11, Estephan struck again from Nagel and Swift Current was back in front.

In the third period, Acadie-Bathurst’s Antoine Morand was called for cross checking just 4:25 into the frame. But the Titan would strike with another shorty this time from Adam Holwell (assists to German Rubtsov and Truchon-Viel) to knot things up again, this time at three.

And that was it for regulation scoring. We headed to overtime and this one was quick. It only took two minutes and fifty-eight seconds for Liam Murphy to win the game (assists to highly touted prospect Noah Dobson and Truchon-Viel – who quietly racked up three points on the afternoon). The Titan won the game 4-3 to notch their first win of the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament.

For the goalies, Swift Current’s Stuart Skinner made 35 saves on 39 shots faced in taking the loss while Fitzpatrick stopped 24 of 27 shots in getting the win for Acadie-Bathurst. As for Sissons, he had the two assists for two points, was a minus-2 and had five shots on goal.

Truchon-Viel was named the game’s third star while Asselin was the second both for the Titan and Estephan was the first star in a losing effort for the Broncos.

Next up for Swift Current, it is the battle of Devils prospects when they take on Marian Studenic and the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday, May 21. We will have coverage of that game for you here.