By Chris Dubiel – Chicago Bulldogs Director of Media Relations
The Bulldogs needed some positive vibes coming off of three straight losses at the MnJHL Great Lakes Showcase in Pleasant Prairie a week prior. Central Wisconsin also came into the three-game series losers of their last three, so both teams were desperate to get back into the win column.
Both teams may have been squeezing the sticks, as Friday night’s contest opened with just three shots on goal per side in the opening period. Kevin McMorrow finally scored the game’s first goal about half way through the second period. The Saints would take a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
The intensity picked up in the third period, with Nate Viberg tying the score about four minutes in. Ryan Erickson would quickly put the Saints back in front about three minutes later. With Central Wisconsin clinging to a lead late in the final period, the Bulldogs’ top line took over.
Matt Kostopoulos continued his point streak, as he tied the game after being set up by Joey Close and Adamson Thoma at 14:53. Their line would strike again at 18:18, this time Close would finish off the play as Kostopoulos and Thoma got the helpers. Chicago went on to win 3-2, ending the losing streak. James Maher picked up a victory stopping nine of 11 shots.
Saturday’s game had a similar tight, back-and-forth feel as Central Wisconsin would find the net first. Close tied the game 1-1 in the first and James Coates made it 2-2 in the second, before the Bulldogs could grab the lead in the third period on a Kostopoulos power play goal. But the 3-2 lead lasted less than three minutes as Colin Van Hauter would tie it. Jay Shifra Jr. would eventually score the game-winner, and the Saints would take the game 4-3.
The importance of the game was evident as chippy play carried on throughout the night and eventually boiled over at the final horn. A line brawl broke out at the end of the game and both teams combined for 90 minutes in penalties after time had expired.
On Sunday afternoon, Chicago was determined to not let the Saints score first. Not only did they draw first blood, but the Bulldogs had a three-goal charge in the opening period. Nate Viberg, Richard Molnar and James Coates all dented the twine to give Chicago a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Bulldogs then put the pedal to the metal in the second period, this time scoring five times. Molnar scored his second of the game shorthanded, followed by Michael Delaney, a pair from Tanner Todd and another by Delaney. Devin Chmura mustered a goal for Central Wisconsin, but the Saints were in an 8-2 hole going into the third.
The final period started quietly, as the Bulldogs had nothing left to do but kill the clock. However, that didn’t stop them from continuing to have some fun late in the game. Delaney capped off a hat trick with a power play goal. Vince Bartkowiak, who had two assists in the game, would score to put the Bulldogs into double digits. Austin Nottke would tip in a rebound late for the Saints, but the Bulldogs prevailed 10-3. James Maher earned his second victory of the weekend, making 15 saves.
After a resounding victory and a big scoring output after the Bulldogs were without some of their top scorers, the Chicago squad will get some rest with a weekend off before their next games against St. Louis start on October 26.