By Chris Dubiel
STEVENS POINT, WI – After hard fought victories on Friday and Saturday night, the Bulldogs were in for another physical game against Central Wisconsin on Sunday morning. As they had been doing all weekend, Chicago would get off to a good start and take the lead early.
Following a high-sticking penalty called on the Saints’ Jay Shifra Jr., Chicago cashed in on the ensuing power play early in the period. Luke Morin played catch with Colin McAuliffe at the point and then fired a shot on goal that was kicked out by Central Wisconsin goalie Jake Adams. Matt Soukup was in front and put the rebound upstairs to give the Bulldogs the lead.
Two minutes later, Tyler Cosentino spotted Andrew Kantsedal streaking through the neutral zone and puck the puck on his stick for a breakaway. Kantsedal threw a head fake then put the puck past the blocker of Adams to make it 2-0.
The intensity levels of both teams rose steadily throughout the game as roughing minors were handed out with regularity on both sides. Bulldogs goalie Joe Lennox was tested frequently on the power play, often making saves on second and third chances after making the first stop on a shot through traffic. Central Wisconsin was finally able to break through late in the period when the Saints had a couple of whacks at the puck during a scramble in front of the net. Kenton Grulkowski got to the loose puck and put it over the sprawling Lennox for a power play goal to make it 2-1.
Chicago wasted no time in getting that goal right back as Kantsedal muscled his way through the slot towards the front of the net with the puck. Although he had it knocked off of his stick, Cosentino was trailing him and picked up the puck and fired a wrist shot beating Adams blocker side to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead going into the first intermission.
A roughing penalty called on the Saints’ Daniel Dellenbach in the final 30 seconds of the first carried over into the second period. Central Wisconsin’s Antonio Falcon was also whistled for roughing in the first 10 seconds of the second to give the Bulldogs a five-on-three power play for 1:21. With plenty of space to operate, the Bulldogs moved the puck around swiftly. Morin passed the puck from down low to McAuliffe at the point, who snapped a low shot that was redirected into the net by Jim Bohne. Chicago’s second power play goal gave them a 4-1 lead.
Frustration set in for the Saints as Chase Engdahl took exception to something Vito Bruno said prior to a faceoff at 13:51 of the period. Engdahl dropped his gloves and went swinging after Bruno, who did not fight back. Engdahl was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Central Wisconsin was able to kill off the major penalty and it gave them some life as they would get on the board at the 8:06 mark when Kyle Harnish’s sharp-angle shot found its way inside the near post after it hit Lennox. The Saints made it a one-goal game one minute later when Michael Tiberi’s low wrist shot found its way through traffic and past Lennox who was screened.
Just when the Saints thought they were back in the game again, Chicago answered quickly. After Tiberi failed to hold in the puck shot up the boards by McAuliffe, Morin stole it, burst up the left wing and ripped a snap shot inside the right post just one minute after the Saints scored. On the next shift, Michael Delaney and Soukup found themselves on a two-on-one. Soukup finished it off with a shot past Adams’ glove to make it 6-3 Bulldogs, 40 seconds after Morin’s goal.
Later in the period during a Central Wisconsin power play, Tiberi again failed to hold the line. This time Bruno stole the puck; he skated it up the left wing and blasted a slap shot over Adams’ blocker. Bruno’s shorthanded goal gave the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead to take into the final 20 minutes.
In the third, Chicago would add one more goal when Delaney blocked a shot with his shin pads and Soukup picked up the puck and headed up ice for a breakaway. He made a forehand-backhand move to slide it between the legs of Mitchell Hanson, who had started the third period in relief of Adams. Soukup’s hat trick goal made it 8-3 in favor of the Bulldogs and that score stood as the final as Chicago completed the sweep of Central Wisconsin.
Colin McAuliffe racked up four assists in the rout. Joe Lennox earned his 10th win of the season with a 36-save performance. The Bulldogs have won five games in a row and will head to Fort Wayne, IN next weekend for the GLJHL showcase tournament.