Four in a row for Bulldogs

Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

And just like that, the Nicol Insurance Bulldogs have a solid record, are within striking distance of the league's top clubs and have a four-game win streak on the go.

The Kincardine Bulldogs celebrate one of five third period goals against the Hanover Barons Thursday night at the Davidson Centre in Kincardine, as Hanover Barons Zack Vokes and goaltender Chase Krompocker look on. (Josh Howald photo)

A three-win weekend - two of them by shutout - has certainly changed the outlook of this Provincial Junior Hockey League team. Less than two weeks ago, the Bulldogs had a 2-5 record and were in the basement of the PJHL's Pollock Division. Now, the 'Dogs are 6-5 and sit in fourth place, just one point out of third and only four points behind the league-leading Mount Forest Patriots.

"The boys are starting to buy in and play our system," said Kincardine coach Shawn Burrows, "and our effort level has picked up. We are a young team, it takes time to learn to play right."

After getting things pointed in the right direction on Hockey Day in Kincardine with a win over the Penetang Kings, the Bulldogs railed off three straight wins over Pollock Division opponents. Kincardine exploded for five goals in less than nine minutes on Thursday evening at the Davidson Centre to beat the Hanover Barons 5-0 before defeating the Goderich Flyers in overtime Saturday on the road and shutting out the Mitchell Hawks Sunday afternoon at home.

Kincardine had not shut a team out since Sept. 24, 2016, prior to Ethan Primeau's 19-save shutout Thursday night at the Davidson Centre. On Sunday, Craig Luinstra got in on the act with a 32-save performance against Mitchell.

"I think we have the confidence we can play with anyone," said the coach.

Sunday, Brett Burrows scored what ended up as the game-winning goal just 1:49 into the game. Damien Demarco-Sutton and Keegan Angel assisted on the tally. It was Burrows' fourth goal of the season. There was no more scoring until Connor Gibson gave Kincardine some insurance with about five minutes remaining. Angel also assisted on Gibson's goal. Tyler Sutter put an exclamation point on the win with an empty net goal with eight seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs won it with goaltending and defence Sunday, but that wasn't necessarily the case Saturday night in Goderich. Robert White scored in overtime to lift the Bulldogs to a 6-5 win over the Flyers in a see-saw battle. But this was a game where the addition of sniper Jordan Caskanette came in handy. Caskanette had a hat trick and added a helper for a four-point game for the 'Dogs.

"Adding Cask has been huge," said coach Burrows. "It gives us some skill that we didn't have before, and he has also been a great addition off the ice."

Chad Treble scored the only goal of the first period for the hosts. Jesse Carnahan tied things up early in the second with help from Burrows. Noah Nurse made it 2-1 Goderich with a power play goal three minutes later, but Brady Richards evened it up just 43 seconds later. Caskanette then scored back-to-back goals seven minutes apart. Carnahan and Mike Fiegehen assisted on the first, while the second was an unassisted power play goal. Trent Michie pulled the Flyers to within a goal one minute later and Morgan Benniwies scored with six seconds left in the period to send this game to the third period all tied up. The late goal from Benniwies was a power play goal.

Goderich went ahead when Treble scored from Chase Meurs, but Caskanette completed the hat trick three minutes later when Burrows set him up for a power play goal. Caskanette also set up White on the overtime winner to finish with a four-point game.

Luinstra made 22 saves to post the win, while the Flyers used both Brandon Bean and Kevin Linker between the pipes. Bean was pulled after allowing three goals on 24 shots and Linker is tagged with the loss after allowing three Kincardine goals on 16 shots. The Bulldogs outshot the Flyers 40-27.

Finally last Thursday, the Bulldogs snapped more than 40 minutes of scoreless hockey with the Hanover Barons in a hurry. A combination of stupid Hanover penalties plus a weak goal or two saw the Bulldogs take this game from 0-0 at the second intermission to 5-0 less than 10 minutes into the third period.

Sutter, Demarco-Sutton, Trevor Donaldson, Caskanette and Justin Marlowe each scored in the first nine minutes of the third period. Brady Richards had two assists. Marlowe, Demarco-Sutton, White, Donaldson and Gibson each had one helper.

Up next for Kincardine is a Friday night home game against the Wingham Ironmen. The puck will at 8:25 p.m. for that game, which should draw a good crowd with numerous Kincardine area players lacing up for both teams. On Saturday, the Bulldogs will head to Mount Forest to take on the league-leading Patriots. It's the first of four consecutive road games for the 'Dogs. The Bulldogs will head to Mitchell Oct. 28 and then to Hanover to visit the Barons Nov. 3.