Salak Hurt; Bulldogs Move to First Place with OT Win

The Amerks took the Hamilton Bulldogs to overtime but in the end the Bulldogs were the ones that scored and won the game to take two points away.  The game had it’s ups and downs and twists and turns.  I think the game took us on an emotional roller coaster ride.

Heading into the game the Amerks and Bulldogs were tied with 41 points each, with the win the Bulldogs take over position of first place.  Based on the celebration on the ice and the cheering and excitement in the Bulldogs locker room it’s obvious they enjoyed the win.

The biggest news of the game was that Alexander Salak went down injured at 9:28 of the first period after Benoit Pouliot scored the first goal of the game.  He left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.  The extent of his injury will be known more on Monday after he visits the doctor, but considering the fact he left the game in pain I expect he’ll miss some games.

Jamie Johnson talked about the injuries saying, “It just seems to keep coming if it’s up top or down here, someone within the organization is getting hurt.”  Putting a positive spin on the issue he went on to say, “It’s tough now but in the long run it will make us a better team having to deal with this now.  We’ll be that much better when we get everyone back.”

After Salak left the ice and Chris Beckford-Tseu got onto the ice something that happened that speaks for itself, Amerks fans booed one of their own.

It’s not uncommon for players to be booed after they make a bad play or have a bad shift, but when’s the last time anyone saw a player get booed before he even played in the game?  A rough way to start the game.

After the game I asked Benoit Groulx about the play of Chris Beckford-Tseu and after about 15 seconds of silence Groulx replied with, “To me, you’ve got to do better than that.”

It was a close game but winning is the key.  Chris Taylor talked about that saying, “The bottom line is we’ve got to win.  It’s not fun just having a good effort and being so close, you want to win.  That’s what we all play for and all strive for.  There’s no way anyone in this room is going to get complacent on losing and we’ve got to stop it right now.”

The scoring opened with Michal Repik in the penalty box for goaltender interference and the Bulldogs took advantage with Benoit Pouliot scoring at 9:28 of the first.  Salak made the initial save on Pouliot but the puck stopped right at the goal post.  As Salak spun around to try and cover the puck Pouliot was able to poke it into the net.  Watching the replay it looked as if Michael Caruso was trying to poke the puck back out but instead may have hit Salaks shoulder causing the injury.

Daniel Steiner put the Amerks on the scoreboard at 17:48 of the first period by just shooting the puck at the net and he got a lucky bounce off a Bulldogs defender and the puck went in the net.  That just goes to show that even if you don’t have the perfect shot and you need to find a way to score, sometimes just throwing it at the net can be a good thing.  Just prior to scoring the goal he had crossed the blue line, was taken down and then he got back up, grabbed the puck and took the shot.

J.T. Wyman scored at 6:58 of the second by simply skating to the front of the net and putting a rebound past Beckford-Tseu.  Beckford-Tseu had made a couple of intial saves but Peter Aston and Michael Caruso failed to stop Wyman from skating right in to put it in.

It only took 14 seconds later for Mathieu Darche to make it a 3-1 game, again thanks to poor defensive plays.  Clay Wilson slid across the ice trying to play the puck away from Ben Maxwell but Maxwell was able to get a pass out to Darche who easily scored the goal.  I’ll give credit to Wilson for the attempt but Jordan Henry was skating past the net towards the back boards and left Darche wide open.

Chris Taylor wasn’t happy with the way things were going and followed up 32 seconds later.  Taylor won the face off and fed the puck back to Clay Wilson who took the shot and Taylor tipped it in.

Jamie Johnson tied the game 3-3 at 18:01 of the second period.  Clay Wilson tried to pass the puck across the ice but it was tipped by a Bulldogs player trying to steal the puck and ended up on the stick of Johnson who scored his 13th goal of the season.

The Bulldogs regained a lead in the game at 2:46 of the third with a power play goal by Mathieu Darche.  Darche took a shot that deflected into the air off Beckford-Tseu and it seemed like it was slow motion as the puck went into the air, over the shoulder, and into the net.

The veteran leader of the Rochester Americans, Chris Taylor, did not want to go down in this game and scored his eigth of the season at 12:24 of the third period to tie the game 4-4.  Repik had tried to shoot the puck along the boards into the Bulldogs zone but the puck took a different path bouncing right to Taylor who put a wrist shot five hole through Desjardins.

Taylor scored his 1,000th career point on Saturday night and added to that with two goals on the night.  He understands the achievement but to him winning is more important.  ” You play to win and you don’t play for your own personal stuff,” he said.  “Right now I’m not even thinking about that because we just lost three games in a row and it’s not very fun.  We’ve still got one game to redeem ourselves before Christmas break.”

With only about 1:30 left in the game the Amerks appeared to score to go ahead 5-4 but the goal was waived off by a linesman saying Michal Repik tipped it in with a high stick.  One of the linesman waived off the goal saying he had a clear view to see the high stick.  From watching the replay it’s a tough call.

Mathieu Darche scored his third goal of the game only 50 seconds into the overtime to win the game for the Bulldogs 5-4.  Tom Pyatt had been hit down to the ice behind the net by Dylan Hunter but he was able to get back up and he tried to slip it past Beckford-Tseu.  The puck stayed out in front of the net and as Beckford-Tseu went down to try and cover the puck Darche was able to shoot up and over him.

We could blame Chris Beckford-Tseu for not covering up the puck.  We could blame a linesman for potentially making a bad call.  We could say that losing Alexander Salak took some energy away.  We could blame the defense.  We could blame the injuries and call ups.  Being realistic the injuries and call ups are an issue but it’s time to find a way to play with what you have and I think they are based on the fact that they’ve scored eight goals in the past two games.  They’re doing some positive things but in hockey the team who makes the fewest mistakes usually wins and that was the Bulldogs on Sunday and Bears on Saturday.

“I think we’re doing some good things but then we just seem to make the ugly little mistakes,” Jamie Johnson said.

“We battled hard, that’s obvious,” Benoit Groulx said.  “We played against a much better team.  We’ve got to be pleased with the point we have.”

The Amerks next game is Tuesday evening on the road when they take on the last place Lake Erie Monsters.

Hamilton Bulldogs 5 (OT) At Rochester Americans 4 – Status: Final OT
Dec 20, 2009 – Blue Cross Arena

Hamilton 1 2 1 1 – 5
Rochester 1 2 1 0 – 4

1st Period-1, Hamilton, Pouliot 1 (Darche, Trotter), 9:28 (pp). 2, Rochester, Steiner 2 (Johnson, Henry), 17:48. Penalties-Repik Rch (goaltender interference), 8:03; Repik Rch (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:28; Anderson Ham (tripping), 14:50; Henry Rch (cross-checking), 18:48; served by Darche Ham (bench minor – too many men), 19:59.

2nd Period-3, Hamilton, Wyman 5 (Johansson, Stevenson), 6:58. 4, Hamilton, Darche 9 (Maxwell, Pouliot), 7:12. 5, Rochester, Taylor 7 (Wilson, Johnson), 7:44 (pp). 6, Rochester, Johnson 13 (Wilson, Beckford-Tseu), 18:01. Penalties-Weber Ham (delay of game), 7:36; Pouliot Ham (high-sticking), 12:04; Wilson Rch (holding the stick), 15:46.

3rd Period-7, Hamilton, Darche 10 (Pouliot), 2:46 (pp). 8, Rochester, Taylor 8 (Henry, Repik), 12:24. Penalties-Tkaczuk Rch (hooking), 2:38.

OT Period-9, Hamilton, Darche 11 (Pyatt), 0:50. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Hamilton 17-12-14-2-45. Rochester 8-7-11-0-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Hamilton 2 of 5; Rochester 1 of 4.
Goalies-Hamilton, Desjardins 10-4-1 (26 shots-22 saves). Rochester, Salak 16-4-0 (9 shots-8 saves); Beckford-Tseu 0-3-0 (36 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen-Derek Sylvester (76), Dan Murphy (21).