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Bulldogs bring home 5-4 win in final regular season game against the Crusaders

Article Credit: Alessia Proietti, rdnewsNOW
Photo Credit: Tom Grimsdale, Ideal Images Red Deer

It was in the final countdown for the Blackfalds Bulldogs on Saturday night when they locked in a 5-4 win against the Sherwood Park Crusaders.

An 80s-theme night at the Eagles Builders Centre, it was also the matchup for the two teams this regular BCHL season. The Bulldogs won three of eight games against the Crusaders overall between the two leagues.

Halfway through the first period, the Bulldogs’ Dakota MacIntosh opened the scoreboard with his ninth goal this season from the faceoff circle on Crusaders goaltender Daniel Heroux. With Otto Hanson and Alexander Dimitriadis claiming the assists, the team lead 1-0.

Sherwood Park’s Ethan Merner evened the game 1-1 at 12:42 with a goal on Blackfalds netminder Gabe Gratton.

Barely two minutes later, the home team’s Tanner Willick regained the lead 2-1 with an incredible wrist shot straight from the centre point. Dimitriadis and Carter Patterson got the apples for his second goal this season.

In an even shorter amount of time, the Bulldogs’ Luke Dahlen scored his fifth this season right in front of the crease. Ahead 3-1, Jayden Joly and Brendan Ross claimed the assists.

With three minutes left in regulation, the Crusaders’ Cade Christenson scored a goal, putting them behind 3-2.

After 20 minutes of play, Sherwood Park was slightly outshooting Blackfalds 12-10.

The Bulldogs doubled their lead 4-2 within the first two minutes of the second period, with Dahlen scoring his second goal of the game from the low slot after a breakaway. Joly got the helper once again.

Towards the end, the Crusaders’ Nick Wellenreiter cut their deficit to 4-3 with a goal at 16:31.

Blackfalds outshot Sherwood Park this time 10-7 in the middle frame.

Midway into the final period, Wellenreiter scored another goal for the Crusaders, tying the game 4-4.

It was looking like an overtime was in the cards, until, with 49 seconds left, Blackfalds’ Tanner Willick scored his second goal of the game, with a long shot near the blue line once

again. His third goal this season in front of a screaming crowd saw Dahlen claim the assist, for a 5-4 win.

Both teams had 14 shots on goal in the third period.

Shots on goal

SPS: 33

BFB: 34

Power play

SPC: 0/2

BFB: 0/3

McWilliam Auto Services Three stars

1st: Tanner Willick (BFB) – 2G, GWG

2nd: Nick Wellenreiter (SPC) – 2G

3rd: Luke Dahlen (BFB) – 2G, 1A

Bulldogs Head Coach Doug Quinn said while he’s happy with the win overall, having tweaked some systems for growth and development, there were times when he was unsure of the positioning and saw them break down defensively.

He said the third period was, “probably a little bit more exciting than I wanted,” adding, “it would have been nice maybe to get that puck deep. Instead, we iced it but, right now, I’ll take a win however we can get one.”

Quinn noted there were some particularly strong individual performances, with some great saves by netminder Gratton, and goals from Dahlen and Tanner Willick.

“Sometimes you need to simplify your game. He’s [Tanner] able to get the puck to the net and we had screens on both those goals and sometimes that’s all it takes; get to the net and it’s amazing how often it goes in,” he said.

Tanner Willick said the team had a strong forecheck in front of the net while defensemen were shooting, which was a huge help.

“Losing the lead there, I was a bit scared, but I mean we persevered and kept to our game and knew that we were going to win that one and it felt good to get that one, but I think it was a good team effort tonight,” he said.

He added that the Bulldogs need to continue to get pucks to the net and play strong within their structure and own ends, particularly in defence.

While Quinn says the Crusaders were a great team that challenged them to be better, the Bulldogs need to be more consistent for the remaining four games this season.

“We can’t have one or two lines do well and then have a line that’s not clicking and then we get hemmed in our zone and it changes momentum,” he said. “We’re going to have to be ready to play. It’s a quick turnaround for us but we want something that we’re chasing, for that third playoff spot.”

The Bulldogs sit in fourth place amongst Alberta teams in the BCHL with a record of 36-22-6-0 while the Crusaders are in second at 47-15-2-0. The Okotoks Oilers are just one point ahead of the Bulldogs in the third-place spot.

The Bulldogs will meet with the Oilers tomorrow night at the Okotoks Centennial Arena. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. with the broadcast live on Mixlr.