By Chris Dubiel
The Chicago Bulldogs played in the MnJHL’s inaugural Great Lakes Showcase in over the weekend, squaring off against teams from the Minnesota Division. The four-day event held at the Rec Plex in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin featured 24 games in which Great Lakes teams faced Minnesota teams for the first time.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs played the Steele County Blades and got going early with Joey Close scoring twice in the first period. Matt Kostopoulos set up both of Close’s goals. Richard Molnar added a late goal to send the Bulldogs into the first intermission up 3-0.
The second period was all Blades as Steele County put up five goals and took a 5-3 into the third period. However, Chicago would own the third period, as the Bulldogs poured in five goals. Joe Mavrin scored on the power play, followed by a Griffin Mason shortie. Then Close popped in his third and fourth goals of the game. Trevor Foley added the exclamation point to an 8-5 victory for the Bulldogs.
The rest of the weekend was tough for the Bulldogs, as they lost hard-fought battles with the Minnesota Owls, Dells Ducks and Hudson Crusaders.
In Friday’s game against the Owls, Chicago fell behind 2-0 early, but stayed in the game and played better as it went along, eventually tying the score 3-3 in the third period. Two late goals by the Owls gave them a 5-3 win, spoiling a two-goal effort from Close. Adamson Thoma had the game-tying goal and an assist.
A rough first period and a sluggish start to the second would put the Bulldogs in a 4-0 hole against the Dells Ducks on Saturday. Chicago was resilient as they chipped away at the lead with goals by Mason and Kostopoulos in the second period. Close brought the Bulldogs within one in the third period and suddenly Chicago was flying high. The Bulldogs went on a 5-on-3 power play late in the third for almost a full two minutes, but the Ducks killed it off, turning the tide of the game back in their favor. Chicago would take a late penalty and a Dells power play goal sealed a 5-3 victory for the Ducks.
Another shaky first period put the Bulldogs behind the eight ball in Sunday’s tilt with the Hudson Crusaders. Opening the middle frame trailing 2-0, Chicago cut the lead in half with a power play goal by Kostopoulos. However, Hudson quashed any momentum that goal may have created with their own power play goal by Ryan Anderson about one minute later. Anderson and Kostopoulos would again trade goals in the third period as Hudson went on to win 4-2.
After a grueling schedule of tough opponents on four consecutive days, the Bulldogs return home Friday to open a three-game set with the Central Wisconsin Saints.