ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Scoring early and scoring late did the trick for the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday night.
Andre Benoit scored the winner late in the third as the Hamilton Bulldogs edged the Abbotsford Heat 2-1 in American Hockey League play. With just over a minute to go in regulation, the Bulldogs defenceman ripped a shot from the point that hit a Heat defenceman and deflected past goalie David Sahtz.
“It was just a great effort by Aaron Palushaj there, he dove and got me the puck back,” said Benoit of his first goal in 24 games. “I just kind of shot it and it deflected off of one of their guys and went in.”
Shantz said he saw Benoit’s shot all the way.
“It was stupid,” said a dejected Shantz. “The puck was probably going 18 inches wide of the net, takes a harmless, unintentional redirect, ends up in the back of the net. It’s frustrating.”
Hamilton (48-16-9) opened the scoring just over a minute into the first as Mike Glumac put home a rebound past Shantz.
Abbotsford (34-27-11) struggled to generate offence in the opening period and registered just three shots on goal.
The Heat evened things up in the second when Cam Cunning redirected a point shot from Josh Meyers on the power play past Bulldogs netminder Cedrick Desjardins.
“We (have) got to come out with a better start,” said Cunning. “The first period we were sitting back obviously we weren’t on our game. We came out in the second and played our game. I think we continued that through the rest of the game they just got the break at the end there.”
Jason Jaffray had an excellent chance to give Abbotsford the lead later in the period but his shot hit the post.
The Bulldogs had two quality chances on the power play in the third while Heat defenceman Gord Baldwin was off for holding.
Shantz robbed Grant Stevenson in close and Yannick Weber rang another shot off the post.
“They’re a hard working team and they give 150 per cent every time they’re out there so you can’t get caught sleeping out there,” said Bulldogs defenceman P.K. Subban. “You got to go out there with the mentality that it’s your last shift and work hard.”
Desjardins made 19 saves for his 26th win of the season while Shantz made 26 saves in a losing cause.
Hamilton is 4-3-0 in seven meetings between the teams this season.