01/10/2013 2:25 PM
Story By: Stuart McComish
HAMILTON, Ont. – There’s something about playing at Copps Coliseum these days that is agreeing with Gabriel Dumont.
Over his last five home games the 22-year-old Hamilton Bulldogs centre has contributed six goals and three assists for nine points as the Bulldogs have gone 3-1-0-1 over that span. Included in that number were three goals and two assists in a 6-3 win over the St. John’s IceCaps on December 28th and the game-winning goal at 19:12 of the third period of a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday night.
“We always want to play well in front of our fans at home,” Dumont said after practice on Wednesday. “We have had some good crowds here. Personally things have been going well over the last few games and I would like to keep that going.”
Dumont sent the Bulldogs fans among the crowd of 4,538 home happy Tuesday night when his shot from the right-wing boards appeared to carom off Marlies defenceman Simon Gysbers and elude netminder Jussi Rynnas. Dumont said he only let the puck fly when he heard linemate Steve Quailer holler that the clock was ticking.
“I heard Quailer yelling for me to shoot. I knew there wasn’t much time left so I put it towards the net. I didn’t really see it, but I guess it hit their defenceman and then it hit their goalie. I’ll take it.”
The goal was Dumont’s team-leading 11th of the season and moved him into the team scoring lead with 21 points, one more than rookie right winger Brendan Gallagher. The Marlies opened the scoring on a goal by Nazem Kadri at 9:18 of the second period, but Patrick Holland drew the home side even with one second remaining in the frame.
The win was the Bulldogs’ first in their last four games against their provincial rival. The loss ended the Marlies’ three-game winning streak and was their first in regulation since a 3-2 setback to the visiting Abbotsford Heat on December 9th.
The Marlies, the top team in the American Hockey League’s North Division and Western Conference, had won the last three games against the Bulldogs, all at Toronto, outscoring the Bulldogs 15-3. The Bulldogs are 3-0-1-0 against the Marlies at Copps Coliseum.
“It was great to still be tied with a good team like Toronto with a minute left in the third,” said Dumont. “It was anybody’s game going into the third. The Marlies had been giving us a hard time lately and it was good to keep them off the board the rest of the way. It was a good performance from us and getting that lucky bounce at the end as a reward was good.”
The Bulldogs outshot the Marlies 38-24 and seemed a long way from the team that managed only 14 shots in a 6-0 loss to the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum on January 2nd as they were shutout for a club-record third consecutive game. The scoreless drought continued into a fourth game, but came to an end when Holland scored at 19:59 of the first period of a 3-1 win over the visiting Rockford IceHogs last Friday night.
“It was a tough stretch,” said Dumont. “But when you go through times like that you just have to keep it simple and go to the net and work to get that greasy goal that will get you out of it.”
The end of the National Hockey League’s 113-day lockout earlier this week has had teams throughout the AHL wondering what their rosters will look like going forward.
“We’re not thinking too much about that,” said Dumont, who was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and played three games for the team in 2011-12. “We have enough stuff to care about here. There are things we need to get better at and what happens in the NHL is what happens.”
One team who stands to be affected by the NHL’s return to action would be the Rochester Americans, who host the Bulldogs at 7:05 p.m. Friday. A number of the Americans’ top players saw action with the Buffalo Sabres last season. Rochester has won four its five meetings against the Bulldogs this season with three of those victories coming at home.
“That will be a big two points for us to get,” said Dumont. “We are at the bottom of the standings and we want to get out of there and put some wins together. We need to go to Rochester and not worry about who they put in their lineup. We just need to play our game and focus on getting the two points.”