BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs pick up first win of the season on home ice

Bulldogs forward Tommy Bannister sneaks a puck past Clippers goaltender Zachary Bennett. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Bulldogs forward Josh Zary is taken down by Clippers players Trevor LeDonne and Zack Dallazanna. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Bulldogs forward Caige Sterzer carries the puck behind the Clippers’ net, pursued by Clippers defenceman Robby Drazner. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Clippers defenceman Mike Kennedy attempts to poke the puck away from Bulldogs defenceman Grayson Valente during the Alberni Valley Bulldogs home opener on Saturday, Sept. 14. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Bulldogs’ forward Stephen Castagna drives to the net during the team’s home opener against the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday, Sept. 14. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs picked up their first win of the 2019-20 season on home ice on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Saturday’s game was the second part of a home-and-home series against the Nanaimo Clippers. Friday’s game in Nanaimo was a close one that ultimately ended 2-1 in favour of the Clippers.

Nanaimo came out strong again on Saturday, taking a 2-0 lead with goals in the first and second period from Robby Drazner and Joshua Bourne. But Bulldogs’ forward Tommy Bannister cut the lead in half with a goal at the end of the second, assisted by Jacob Bosse. It was Bannister’s goal again that tied things up early in the third, assisted by Jackson Munro and Bosse. Bannister is now tied for second in the league with four goals on the season.

A sudden death overtime period didn’t decide the game, so the Bulldogs and the Clippers went to a shootout. It was Bosse who scored the lone goal in the shootout, while goaltender Luke Pearson saved all three shots he faced.

The Bulldogs lost their first two games in a disappointing road trip in Powell River on Sept. 6 and 7, so head coach Joe Martin says it’s a bit of a relief to get the first win of the season out of the way.

“I liked that [the games] were close,” said Martin. “We didn’t let either game go in their direction for too long. Nanaimo had a lot of momentum. We bent, but we didn’t break.”

Martin said this was in large part due to the Bulldogs’ goaltending. Jackson Glassford was between the pipes on Friday and made 41 saves in his BCHL debut, while Pearson played the hero in the shootout on Saturday.

It’s significant that the Bulldogs’ first win of the season came on home ice, said Martin.

“It was probably our best 60 minutes overall as a group,” he said. “I’m grateful it was in front of the home crowd. I think we gave the crowd an understanding of who we are and who we’re trying to be. The guys have worked hard, and it’s nice to finally get rewarded.”

Up next, the Bulldogs host the Surrey Eagles on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. The team will travel to Cowichan to face the Caps on Friday, followed by another home game against Nanaimo on Saturday.

“We’re making some small adjustments,” explained Martin. “Just some little tweaks here and there. We’ve got some decisions to make going into Tuesday. We’ll see how the team plays.”

ICE CHIPS … The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have announced their leadership group for the 2019-20 season. Mitch Deelstra will serve as the club’s captain, while Jackson Doucet, Jackson Munro and Stephen Castagna will serve as alternates.


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