Beaulieu, Bulldogs rely on traffic in the crease for 4-3 win over IceCaps

Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 10:15 PM The Canadian Press

HAMILTON - Nathan Beaulieu had two goals, including the winner, as the Hamilton Bulldogs edged the St. John's IceCaps 4-3 in the American Hockey League on Tuesday.

Stefan Chaput and Joe Stejskal also scored for the Bulldogs (21-26-6), while Robert Mayer made 39 saves.

Jason Gregoire, Aaron Gagnon and Raymond Sawada had goals for the IceCaps (23-30-3) and Mark Dekanich stopped 25 of 29 shots in a losing effort.

The first scoring chance of the game fell to Hamilton's Chaput seven minutes into the first period.

Beaulieu advanced from the blue-line and released a slap shot that Dekanich kicked directly into Chaput's path in the low slot, but the forward could not get his stick to the puck as it slid past him.

The centre made amends for his earlier miss when he opened the scoring at 13:06, with a Hamilton power play coming to a close.

Chaput held the puck below the goal-line, and curled out in front of the net before chipping a wrist shot from an acute angle that found the top corner beyond Dekanich's far shoulder.

The Bulldogs began the second period strongly, holding the puck inside the IceCaps' zone and cycling well to create chances in the first two minutes. Dekanich was forced to scramble as three Bulldogs crashed his crease, attempting unsuccessfully to poke the puck past the netminder.

St. John's weathered that early pressure, and levelled the game at 2:58 of the second through an impressive individual effort from Gregoire.

The winger carried the puck down the left side and drove behind the net with Chaput giving chase. He outpaced his defender and quickly curled out in front, releasing a heavy wrist shot that beat Mayer above the shoulder on the short side.

Hamilton restored its lead at 10:13 of the second period, when Joey Tenute cycled the puck to Stejskal at the point with Patrick Holland stationed firmly in front of the St. John's net. The defenceman released a routine shot that skipped past the screened Dekanich.

A nearly identical goal put the Bulldogs up by two six minutes later.

Michael Bournival moved to the front of the net with Beaulieu holding the puck on the blue-line, and when the defenceman let loose a hard, low shot, Bournival's screen helped it past Dekanich at 16:07 of the second.

St. John's struck back almost immediately, scoring at the end of a goal-mouth scrum less than a minute after Bournival's goal.

Derek Meech's initial shot from the point was saved, but Mayer let a rebound out in front of him that Gagnon eventually managed to corral and slot into the gaping net at 17:03.

Hamilton found an insurance goal at 6:14 of the third, with Beaulieu and Bournival playing the same roles that they had a period before. The defenceman unleashed another low shot that was aided by Bournival's screen as it eluded Dekanich.

Traffic in front of the net paid off once again, this time for the IceCaps, as St. John's pulled a goal back when Jaffray's shot from the blue line was deflected past Mayer by Sawada at 7:35 of the third.

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