Hamilton Bulldogs open OHL playoffs with win over Peterborough

Picking up where they left off in the Ontario Hockey League’s regular season, the Hamilton Bulldogs opened the playoffs with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Peterborough Petes Thursday night.

Hamilton won their final 10 games before entering the post-season as the OHL’s No. 1 seed and started their quest for a championship with a spirited performance in front of 3,362 fans at FirstOntario Centre.

Following a scoreless opening period in which the Bulldogs outshot the Petes 10-7, Hamilton exploded for three goals in just over five minutes early in the second period.

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Defenceman Arber Xhekaj opened the scoring on the power play, two minutes into the second frame, when he slapped a one-timer from the right faceoff circle past Petes goalie Michael Simpson.

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2:20 later, Anaheim Ducks blue-chip prospect Mason McTavish doubled Hamilton’s lead when he wristed a shot from the high slot that banked off the post and into the net.

Hamilton made it 3-zip when winger Brenden Anderson poked the puck underneath a sprawling Simpson 7:03 into the second period.

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Brian Zanetti got the Petes on the scoreboard thanks to a power-play goal with 3:24 remaining in the middle frame when he deflected a point shot that eluded Hamilton netminder Marco Costantini.

The Dogs restored their three goal advantage with a power-play marker of their own when leading scorer Logan Morrison sniped the puck into the top corner with 73 seconds left in the period.

Peterborough cut into Hamilton’s lead once again as Donovan McCoy beat a screened Costantini from a sharp angle 2:50 into the third period, but just over five minutes later Morrison scored his second goal of the game on a 5-on-3 power-play to give the Dogs a 5-2 lead.

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The Bulldogs outshot Peterborough 41-22 and went 3-for-9 with the man advantage. The Petes converted one of their six power-play opportunities.

Hamilton dominated the Petes in the regular season by winning six of their eight meetings, helping the Bulldogs to a team record 51 wins and 107 points.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Monday night at FirstOntario Centre.


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