Reported by: Jesse Ferguson
The newly relocated Brantford Bulldogs, originally known as Hamilton Bulldogs, got their first win of the season at home, 5-2 over the Oshawa Generals. Over 3,000 enthusiastic fans sold-out the house at the renovated Brantford Civic Centre Arena in Brantford Ontario Canada, on the Thanksgiving Saturday. If you are interested in Season’s Tickets, they are 80% sold. Don’t wait!
Welcome to town boys!
The Brantford and area fans have missed an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team in Brantford since 1984 with The Brantford Smoke. The first thing noticed about the new and improved Civic Centre had to be the new centre ice video scoreboard where action was shown in real-time. The digital clock is bracketed by the recent wins the Bulldogs earned when they were home in Hamilton, until now.
One aesthetic difference to the rink would be that the benches have switched sides– and the painfully small benches that teams from atom level all the way up to the Sr. A Blast had to cram onto, are no more.
The old press box is gone and replaced by an additional floor on the North side for many media boxes.
The sound system has been professionally upgraded, the rink seating is warmer with the powerful television lighting. The Civic Centre, including a new restaurant, is FULLY licensed!
Play by-play reporting: by Jesse Ferguson
Read on for details of the game scoring and introduction of some of the players involved.
The first goal, halfway through the first period, was off a scramble in the offensive end, as Oshawa’s Stuart Rolofs sent the puck past the keeper for a 1-0 lead for the away team.
The second period started with a delayed penalty call on Oshawa. Brantford Captain Logan Sherk dazzled fans as he scooped the puck up and nearly threw it in over the keeper’s shoulder from behind the net. However, on the resulting powerplay after some solid work to keep the puck alive, Bulldogs’ Ben Bujold, born in Ottawa, had a wraparound churned aside only to go directly to winger Florian Xhekaj who buried it for Brantford’s inaugural home goal! Game tied and another historical marker in Brantford hockey fame.
Fans may recognize that name, Xhekaj (pronounced Jack-eye) for his brother, Arber, of the Montreal Canadiens. Both brothers are from nearby Hamilton and Arber also played first for the Bulldogs when they were in Hamilton.. Ironically, both brothers scored tonight, one for the Brantford Bulldogs and the other for the Montreal Canadiens.
After a questionable major penalty was called against Brantford, the penalty kill, featuring goalie Matteo Dronac, locally from Oakville, was solid! That work led to a counter rush by Bulldogs’ Mason Wray. Bujold was at it again, this time picking up the loose change from Wray’s rush and depositing it into the net to give Brantford its first lead at home as the Bulldogs! At age 17, Wray comes from Amarillo Texas. It was 2-1 Bulldogs after the shorthanded tally.
The loudest sustained cheer of the night came following this as Delhi product Marek Vanacker showed he wouldn’t take any chirping from the Oshawa defenseman as the two engaged in a spontaneous scuffle.
The Bulldogs sustained pressure only increased following this and came to a head at the end of second as Captain Sherk, from Halton, came around the net and buried it, with only six seconds remaining in the middle frame!
Very early into the third, Oshawa’s Beckett Sennecke made a nice rush to the goal and cut the lead to one.
Nick Lardis, from Oakville, showing good offensive pressure from Brantford led to his zooming down the left slot before ripping the mesh. That was the insurance goal the Bulldogs needed!
As the Generals got chirpy, Brantford converted a beautiful powerplay goal as icing on the cake. It was Patrick Thomas, also from Oakville, in particular moving the puck very well. He found Lardis again, who converted the one-timer, sending the fans home excited by this level of hometown hockey OHL at its best.
There will be more winning as the season brings other teams: the Kingston Frontenacs, London Knights, Mississauga Steelheads, Owen Sound Attack, Peterborough Petes, North Bay Battalion, and Ottawa Generals to face the bark and fury of the Brantford Bulldogs.