The Hamilton Bulldogs weren’t afraid to mix it up with the Manitoba Moose if it meant ending a five-game winless streak.
Duncan Milroy had a goal and an assist and the Bulldogs played strong two-way hockey to earn a 4-2 victory over the Moose.
Janne Lahti, Joel Bouchard, and Corey Locke also scored for Hamilton (9-12-0-5). Colby Genoway and Zack FitzGerald replied for the Moose (15-10-2-1).
Bulldogs head coach Don Lever applauded his team’s ability to exchange hard hits with a physical Moose squad.
“They tried to get physical with us,” said Lever. “It kind of woke us up and we managed to play through it. We’ve got some young bodies who tried to get involved.”
Genoway opened the scoring at 5:16 of the first period, picking up a loose puck at his own blue-line before racing down the right side and beating Hamilton netminder Jaroslav Halak high on the glove side.
Locke tied the game just over two minutes later, pouncing on a Milroy rebound and beating an out-of-position Drew MacIntyre.
“That power-play goal we got was a big bonus because the Moose haven’t given up a lot of them of late,” said Lever.
Hamilton seized the lead on a power play with 12 seconds remaining in the period. Bouchard drilled a hard slap shot from the right faceoff circle past a screened MacIntyre for his first goal of the season.
At 3:53 of the second period, the Bulldogs increased the lead to 3-1 when Lahti redirected Eric Manlow’s shot from the right faceoff circle.
Less than a minute later, a pair of fights broke out between Manitoba’s Rick Rypien and Andrew Archer and Moose winger Pierre-Cedric Labrie who traded punches with Jonathan Ferland.
Labrie and Ferland both received game misconducts as well as fighting majors.
Manitoba cut the lead to 3-2 at 7:26 of the third when FitzGerald took a cross-ice pass from Greg Classen at the Moose blue-line and fired a long slap shot that beat a screened Halak.
That’s as close as Manitoba would get, as Milroy iced things with an empty-netter with five seconds left.
“A month or six weeks ago we’d go down a couple goals and we’d come back in the third,” said Moose defenceman Nathan McIver. “We did it a few times, but points are harder to get of late.”
McIntrye and Halak both turned aside 21 shots.
The teams meet again Saturday in Winnipeg.