ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Robert Slaney's first American Hockey League goal couldn't have come at a better arena.
The native Newfoundlander scored in front of friends and family as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the St. John's IceCaps 4-2 at Mile One Centre on Tuesday.
"It was great to get that one here, especially with so many friends and family in the stands, and people from my home town," said the native of Upper Island Cove, N.L.
"It's really great to get that one here. I've been three years trying to get that first AHL goal, so that's just not my first goal as a Bulldog. That's a lot of missed open nets, a lot of missed opportunities, and it's good to get a greasy one."
Joey Haddad scored the winner, while Andreas Engqvist and Ian Schultz also had goals for the Bulldogs (27-27-7).
Jason King and Zach Redmond replied for the IceCaps (37-16-7).
Nathan Lawson made 32 saves in the win, while Ed Pasquale stopped 27 shots for St. John's.
Slaney received an ovation from the IceCaps faithful, despite wearing the wrong colours.
"I knew my family would have a little bit to say, but when I heard the crowd react the way they did... it was good to hear," he said.
The goal could also not have come in a better sweater, either. Slaney grew up as a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, the Bulldogs' parent club in the NHL.
"Growing up, Montreal has always been my favourite team, so it's an honour to get traded there and wear the red, white, and blue," he said. "Without playing for the Montreal Canadiens it's as close as you can get to a dream come true."
IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge was disappointed with a loss to the lowly Bulldogs.
"I believe there's 22 points separating us, 20 now after that loss," McCambridge said.
"I thought we didn't come to compete. I thought that was one of those games that we looked, pretty much to a man except for a few guys, to mail that in. We weren't skating, we weren't moving our feet, execution wasn't there."
The game remained tied after the first period, despite several scoring chances. The missed opportunities became nearly comical as pucks bounced up on players at the last moment.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring 8:03 into the second period when Schultz got a fortunate power play goal. Schultz attempted to throw a pass across the IceCaps crease, but it appeared to strike defenceman Travis Ramsey's knee and roll into the net.
St. John's tied the game on a power play before the second period ended. Lawson saved a Jason DeSantis shot, but the puck bounced out to Newfoundland native King, who made no mistake.
Hamilton scored its second goal of the game when Slaney took a pass just feet from the net and shot home the goal with ease at 11:19 of the third period.
The Bulldogs went up 3-1 when some poor defensive marking, likely caused by the IceCaps pressing for the tying goal, allowed Haddad to score at 16:58 in the third period.
Engqvist added an empty-net goal at 18:24 to put Hamilton up 4-1.
The IceCaps scored a late third period goal, but it was too late to make the Bulldogs panic. The consolation goal came on a power play at 19:55 when Redmond banged home a puck at close range.
St. John's went 2-for-5 on the power play, while Hamilton was 1-for-2.
The teams face off again Wednesday night at Mile One Centre.