Game Report: Hamilton Bulldogs vs Philadelphia Phantoms 1-7-04 (2-3)
By Dan Linn
Hamilton travels to Philly for their only vist this year, in an out of conference game, as they look to build on their 1st place lead. Leading the way for the Dogs is Josef Balej, who has more goals this year they he had points in all of last season, a great turnaround year for him. Also getting his first ever start in the American Hockey League, was netminder Olivier Michaud. With the loss of Benoit Gratton, Tomas Plekanec, and Eric Fichaud, the team hasn’t lost any steam as they continue to pile up the points so far this season.
Dogs got the early lead as Josef Balej continues to breakout on offense, as he used his speed to get to a lose puck, and then his very quick release was too much for the young Finnish goalie of the flyers. The Dogs had a number of chances on the PP, but couldn’t get it going, as it was a tight physical game. Late in the period Philly got a lucky bounce, as Michaud was down, leaving the top half wide open, tie score at 1 a peice.
The physical play picked up, and the Dogs had several good chances on a 5 minute major high sticking penalty, but the phantoms goalie was very strong, as he robbed Perezhogin who looked to have a sure goal with a wicked wrist shot. But the Phantoms got the go ahead goal when the puck was behind the net, Michaud was watching the player with the puck, when the pass came to the front, Svitov didn’t have his man tied up, thus he had a wide open net, 2-1 Phantoms.
Starts off with the Dogs on the PP, and they jump all over Philly, as they made several good plays on the point from Beauchemin and Hainsey to keep the puck and moving around quickly. Higgins was there to grab a rebound off a nice shot from Ron Hainsey. The play was started when Alex Perezhogin drove hard to the net with the puck, making some flashy moves but couldn’t get it by the Finnish goalie. But the game didn’t stay tied much longer, as the Phantoms were able to get one off a faceoff win, as they had been applying a lot of pressure on Michaud and the Dogs defense, who were having a tough time clearing the zone. 2-3 Phantoms half way through the 3rd period, but shortly after this things got really physical as the refs had to warn the coaches several times for flying high sticks. 12 penalities were called in less then 9 minutes, as the refs tried to keep it under control, Perehzogin was high sticked, and needed medical attention on the ice, as it got ruff out there for everyone. After two quick fights for Dykhuis and Ferland, things got worse as the game went on, with call after call for the physical game. The Dogs couldn’t get anything going with all the calls, so they lost the game 3-2 in a hard fought battle. At the 20 minute mark of the period, Balej mixed it up with Vandermeer, as he took exception to being hit several times, a fitting way to end a physical game.
For the Dogs several players had a good game, but several other players struggled all night long. Perezhogin had a few good chances, as he showed some flashy moves, Balej was creating chances with his speed, Higgins played a strong all round game, Michaud was shaky at times, but overall had a decent game, Beauchemin was also solid for the most part, and Hainsey made several good plays on the PP.
On the other hand, Marcel Hossa had a tough night, getting some lazy penalities called on him, which had to frustrate coach Jarvis as he killed the momentum with the penalities. Tampa prospect Olevstad was a no show, as he did little all game, and Alex Svitov didn’t wake up till later in the game when it got really physical.
Showing some promise was defensemen Andrew Archer who made several crisp tape to tape passes, and Jonathan Ferland who was up for the task when things got physical and he even dropped the gloves to stick up for a teammate. Also impressive was Hamilton Bulldogs J-P Cote, who seemed to enjoy the physical side of the game with several hits. Overall an enjoyable game to attend (I was on the goal line and up on the phantoms side) as it was an intense hard fought game, to bad the Dogs couldn’t pull it out though.