By Chris Dubiel
The Bulldogs remain in the hunt for first place after winning another series, beating the Federals two out of three times last weekend.
It was all Bulldogs on Friday night as James Maher blanked Fort Wayne with a 22-save shut out and Chicago cruised to a 4-0 victory. Joey Close, Matt Kostopoulos, Adamson Thoma and Charlie Dewitt all found the back of the net in the win.
Saturday’s game would be a different story, even though the Bulldogs would get off to a good start. Close scored his Great Lakes leading 26th goal of the season just 39 seconds in to the game and Andrew Lillard would cash in later on. About to head to the intermission down by two, the Federals got a big power play from Spencer Johnson with just 13 seconds left in the first.
Trailing by just one to start the second, the Federals kept up the pressure, outscoring the Bulldogs 3-0. The Federals led 4-2 as the game moved into the third period, but Trevor Foley and Thoma brought the Bulldogs back with third period goals to tie the score at four, and that’s where the score stood at the end of 60 minutes.
No one found the net in overtime, but it was the Federals who prevailed in the shootout and evened the series with a 5-4 win. On the positive side for Chicago, they still managed to pick up a key standings point.
Sunday’s game would be another hard-fought battle, with the Bulldogs needing another comeback. Adam Marshall got the Bulldogs on the board with a goal less than three minutes into the game, but the Federals’ Cameron Wirick scored the next two to give Fort Wayne a 2-1 lead. Ryan Matteson would score late in the period, giving the Federals a 3-1 lead at the end of 20 minutes.
James Coates scored the only goal of the second period, cutting the Federals’ lead to just one. Nick Gorczyca then tied the game at 3-3 about eight minutes into the third, but the tie would not last long as Matteson scored his second of the game about one minute later.
Despite trailing most of the game, the Bulldogs pressed on and drew some penalties. With the man advantage, Joe Mavrin scored the equalizer with less than seven minutes remaining. Thoma scored a power play goal about three minutes later to give Chicago its first lead since 2:20 into the first period.
Maher, who made 23 saves and the Bulldogs were able to hold down the fort for the final 3:13 and pick up a big series victory and stay in the hunt for first place.
The Bulldogs play Illiana at home on Friday before they head out to Rochester for the 2012 Minnesota Showcase next week.