ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Depleted by injuries and callups to the NHL, the Hamilton Bulldogs took the lead in the American Hockey League North Division final thanks to a couple of rookies scoring their first professional goals.
Gabriel Dumont scored the tying goal and fellow rookie Olivier Fortier added the winner and the Bulldogs beat the Abbotsford Heat 3-2 in American Hockey League playoff action Tuesday.
Dumont tied the game 2-2 on a second-period power play, as his one-timed shot managed to squeeze through the arms of Heat goaltender David Shantz.
Just over two minutes later Fortier scored when Andrew Conboy slid the puck towards the Abbotsford goal, and it redirected in off Fortier’s skate and past Shantz.
A recent callup form the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Dumont was playing in just his second game with the Bulldogs. As a member of the Drummondville Voltigeurs he led the QMJHL in goals this season with 51 and was tied for third in points with 93.
“It’s a good feeling scoring in a playoff game like that,” said Dumont. “I’m just trying to work hard and do what the coaches ask me and keep it simple.”
Hamilton, missing several players including star defenceman P.K. Subban, leads the best-of-seven series 2-1. Subban was called up to the Montreal Canadiens and has been impressing at the NHL level.
“We find ways (to win),” said Hamilton head coach Guy Boucher. “We’ve done some incredible things because of the character of the players.”
Abbotsford opened the scoring on the power play with Jon Rheault’s sixth goal of the post-season.
Hamilton responded with a power-play goal of its own as Andre Benoit tied the game 1-1 midway through the first period.
The Heat struck on the power play again, as Brett Sutter’s fourth of the playoffs game them a 2-1 lead at 15:15 of the first period.
“We worked on it this morning,” said Sutter of the traffic created in front of Bulldogs starter Cedrick Desjardins. “I think that’s something we didn’t do enough in Hamilton. Tonight we always had two or three in front of him and we banged a few home.”
The Bulldogs went 2 for 6 with the man advantage while failing to kill Abbotsford’s two power plays.
Heat head coach Jim Playfair was not impressed with the officiating.
“I think the Hamilton Bulldogs seemed to have good calls from the referee in back-to-back games,” Playfair said. “I can’t imagine the penalties had to be as lopsided as they were in two games.
“Given that I thought our players still competed very hard.”
Desjardins made 31 saves improving to 6-3-0 in the Calder Cup playoffs while Shantz turned a side 23 Bulldog shots for his forth loss.
The two teams split the first two games in Hamilton. Game 3 goes Thursday in Abbotsford.