ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - The Niagara IceDogs turned in a spirited effort against one of the premier clubs in the Ontario Hockey League on Thursday, but came up short in dropping a 4-1 decision against the Belleville Bulls.
The IceDogs fell back to .500 with the loss at 24-24-4-6 and were in fifth spot in the Eastern Conference with 58 points. They travel in Kingston Friday and Ottawa Sunday afternoon.
The Bulls improved to 39-15-2-2.
The effort, and result, were reminiscent of earlier games this season when the IceDogs struggled for wins and often went unrewarded.
Belleville grabbed a 1-0 lead when Cory Tanaka scored a short-handed goal.
Eric Tangradi finished up the scoring for the Bulls into an empty net, which was also short-handed. The IceDogs have now allowed 16 goals while on the power play, most in the league.
Matt Sisca, who had just three goals last season, scored Niagara's lone goal of the game, his 21st of the season.
Belleville took control halfway through the second period, but couldn't beat Jeremy Smith, who had another strong effort.
Belleville finally broke the 1-1 deadlock early in the third on a power-play marker by Brandon Mashinter. Tangradi, a draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, fired an insurance marker at 12:01 before his empty-netter concluded the scoring.
Niagara defenceman Matt Maione took a puck in the mouth in the second period and returned to action wearing a full cage.