Speed, going to the net and a new defensive system resulted in an Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-1 win in their home opener against the Coquitlam Express, Bulldogs assistant coach Adam Hayduk said.
The crowd of more than 1,200 watched when Bulldog’s forward Stephen Saretsky went to the net and notched the team’s first goal two minutes into the game.
Bulldog’s forward Lars Hepso snapped one past Express goalie Billy McGladrey just three minutes later to make it 2-0.
The Express coaches pulled McGladrey from goal for the night and inserted back up Khaleed Devji, who faced more of the same.
The Bulldog’s got an added boost at the 11-minute mark when goaltender Max Fenkell deftly turned aside a penalty shot by Express player Justin Georgeson.
The Express got on the scoreboard early in the second period with a goal on a breakaway by Alex Petan. The Bulldogs Mike Mike Puddifant responded for the Bulldogs with a goal midway through the second.
The Bulldog’s skating and defense continued to slow the Express in the third. Goals by Bulldogs Evan Tironese and Yan Kalashnikov sealed the 5-1 win.
The Bulldogs had 49 shots on goal and were one for eight on the power play. The Express had 33 shots on goal and were zero for four on their power play.
Bulldogs goalie Max Fenkell was named the game’s first all star. His team mates Evan Tironese and Mike Puddifant were named second and third all stars respectively.
The Bulldog’s were firing on all cylinders, Hayduk said. “Speed, getting the puck to the net and creating good scoring chances,” he said. “Smart play and speed are a lethal combination.”
Deft goaltending by Fenkell and nine hard hits on opposing players by Trent Dorais – dubbed Captain Crunch by some fans – underpinned the win, Hayduk said.
The team has been working on instituting a new defensive scheme players haven’t seen before. “Once players buy in we’re going to see consistent positive results,” Heyduk said.
The team still needs to work on its neutral zone transition, and defencemen need to get the puck up the ice instead of cycling it back, he added.
The Bulldog’s next game is at home on Friday, Sept. 30 against the Victoria Grizzlies.