When Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ Chase Klassen fired the puck behind Coquitlam Express goalie Connor Mackenzie at 3:11 of the first period, a swarm of stuffies filled the air at Weyerhaeuser Arena.
Hundreds of teddy bears and other stuffies hit the ice during the Bulldogs’ annual Teddy Bear Toss. Dozens of Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association players skated onto the ice to help the Bulldogs collect the teddy bears, which will be donated to various places in the Alberni Valley.
The pause in action seemed to fuel the Bulldogs, who scored two more times on goals by Brandon Buhr and Mirko Buttazzoni to take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Bulldogs’ Ethan Leyer scored 2:12 into the second period to take a 4-0 lead before Coquitlam scored three unanswered goals to go into the final period just one goal behind, at 4-3.
Finn Brown increased the Bulldogs’ lead with his first of two goals just 1:33 into the final period, and the Express couldn’t get closer despite Ryan Tattle’s tally at 3:35. Josh Zary scored a short-handed empty net goal at 17:57 for the Bulldogs’ final goal in their 7-4 triumph.
Attendance at Saturday’s game was 1,347, the highest the team has seen since 2018, according to Bulldogs president David Michaud.
The Bulldogs’ good times didn’t last though. Sunday they fell 5-2 to Nanaimo Clippers on the road.
“It’s obviously a good game when we play these guys,” head coach Joe Martin said in a pre-game video.
Ethan Bono and Josh Zary picked up the Bulldogs’ goals.
The Bulldogs are on the ice at home again this Wednesday, Dec. 15 when the Victoria Grizzlies come to town. Puck drop is 7 p.m.
ICE CHIPS…Saturday’s game was Coquitlam Express vice-president and general manager Tali Campbell’s first time back in the Dawg Pound (and Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena) in more than a year. Campbell worked in the Bulldogs’ front office before moving to the Nanaimo Clippers and then the Express.