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Willsie scores go-ahead goal in second as Bulldogs beat Marlies 4-1

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TORONTO - There's something about playing against the Toronto Marlies that brings out the best in Hamilton Bulldogs backup goaltender Robert Mayer.

With normal starter Nathan Lawson out with a suspected concussion, the Czech-born Mayer made 19 saves as the Bulldogs beat the Marlies 4-1. It's the second time in as many appearances against the Marlies that Mayer has backstopped his team to victory.

When the two teams faced each other on Boxing Day at the Air Canada Centre, Mayer came off the bench with his side three goals down and didn't let in a goal as his side came back for a 6-3 win.

"The last game I played here at the (Air Canada Centre) I think the guys were a little bit sleepy for Lawson," said Mayer. "I thought the second and third period today we played way better than them so the guys have been playing well in front of me, that's for sure."

Brian Willsie's second period goal was the eventual winner for Hamilton (15-14-5) and as solid as Mayer was in one end, Ben Scrivens was the polar opposite in the Marlies goal.

When the Toronto goalie came out of his crease and had his clearing attempt blocked, the puck ricocheted to Willsie who scored into an open net for his second goal in as many games.

"I thought it should have been a 1-0 or maybe even a 0-0 game through two periods and even well into the third period," said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins. "We were having a bit of a problem in our net today."

Since being sent down from the Maple Leafs in early December, Scrivens is a disappointing 3-6-1.

"I think he's the same kid but a different goalie has come back," said Eakins. "I'm not saying that he's awful or anything like that. He's just off a little bit off."

Andres Engqvist opened the scoring for Hamilton and added an assist. Aaron Palushaj and Zack Fitzgerald also scored for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs have won two games in as many days after beating the Syracuse Crunch 5-2 on Friday.

"Our defencemen played really well today," said Bulldogs head coach Clement Jodoin. "They were moving the puck quicker. The puck didn't stay in our end and for that it makes a big difference."

Ryan Hamilton scored in the first for the lone Toronto (19-12-5) goal.

Hamilton jumped out in front at 10:43 of the first with Toronto equalizing just 32 seconds later.

The Bulldogs' opener came when Engqvist took a pass from Palushaj on the right side and used Jeff Finger, who was trying to block a shot, as a screen to beat Scrivens five-hole.

"The whole team has been playing really good these last games and it's always nice to score goals especially when we win," said Engqvist, who is another Bulldogs player to register his second goal in as many games.

Toronto reacted quickly and levelled it when Greg Scott fed Hamilton with a pass right down the middle and Hamilton beat Mayer on the breakaway.

Palushaj picked up Hamilton's third of the game at 9:37 of the third period. He wasn't paid any attention by the Marlies' defenders coming from behind the net and spun and fired, scoring on the short side.

Fitzgerald's goal at 17:05 came on a shot that got through traffic in front that Scrivens didn't seem to see until it was behind him.

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