For the second year in a row Dorchester faces Mt. Brydges in the first round
Thursday, February 7, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
DORCHESTER - For the second consecutive year the Dorchester Dolphins are facing the Mt. Brydges Bulldogs and the team with the best regular season record are hoping to let sleeping dogs lie.
On their way to finishing first in the Provincial Junior Hockey League Yeck Division (31-9-0-0), the Dolphins won four of five regular season games against the Bulldogs who finished eighth (9-28-3-0.
The Bulldogs did win the final meeting on home ice, on January 18th, 3-2, but were only 2-7-0-1 over their final 10 games.
"Any team in the playoffs in this league can win games. We can't take a team like Mt. Brydges lightly," Dolphins' assistant coach Chris Masse said.
"Our biggest thing is to come out hard firing on all cylinders. Sometimes we get caught not coming out ready to play at the drop of the puck. The game starts at 7:30, not 7:40, or when the first period ends."
For the players and fans, game one is Friday, February 8th, at Dorchester, 7:30 p.m.
"Starting on time and using our team speed to our advantage," stresses Masse. "Playing the defensive side of the puck is a big thing. We have to play defensive hockey and make sure we're doing everything right, being discipline and staying out of the box."
Once the series begins, there's little time for rest, as games one through three are on consecutive dates, game four two days later and game five, if necessary, the following night.
"We're going hard right out of the gate. The boys better get their legs early," said Masse.
The Dolphins shouldn't forget their 3-2 loss to the Bulldogs.
"They out worked us and out hustled us to pucks," Masse said. "We never found our stride throughout the game. We made a push in the third, but sometimes you can't wait. We have to come ready to play."
Dorchester scored the most goals and allowed in the fewest in the division, while Mt. Brydges was eighth in offence and sixth in team goals-against. The Dolphins only lost twice on home ice in 20 games, while the Bulldogs managed only one win away from the Dog House.
Nolan Blewett led the Dolphins with 57 points, third highest in the division, on 31 goals and 26 assists. Ryan Root and Dylan Buckholz also hit the 20 goal mark, with 23 and 20 goals, respectively and each had 42 points.
The Dolphins have three of the top 10 scoring defencemen in James Newland (eight goals, 19 assists), Braidon Duncan (7G, 16A) and Aidan Reid (5G, 16A).
Mt. Brydges has the number one scoring defenceman in Matt Poulin who led his team with 39 points. Forward Ryan Hopkins finished with eight goals and 25 assists. Denis Novikov and Dan Stretton led the ‘Dogs with 15 and 11 goals, respectively.
"We always have to watch out for Hopkins. He's been a top player in this league since he started," Masse said.
Matt Waller recorded 16 wins for the Dolphins between the pipes and led the division with a 2.74 goals against average. Waller was 4-0 against the Bulldogs this season, including a 5-0 shutout, allowing just six goals total over those four games. Liam McCarthy was in net for the loss.
"We don't have to worry about back there. We believe in both of our goalies," said Masse.
In the season series, Root led the Dolphins with five goals and three assists. Blewett had four goals and three assists, Buckholz, three goals and two assists and David Henshaw, four assists.
Nick Whitworth drew five assists during four of those games, but the Bulldogs need not worry about him, as the defenceman was traded to Exeter.
Hopkins and Justin Cheng, each had three points for Mt. Brydges.
Special teams offer a mixed bag and could be an advantage for either side, depending the angle looked upon.
Mt Brydges owned the number one penalty killing unit, successful 84.24 percent of the time and were the least penalized team.
Neither team had a killer power play, with the Dolphins ranking fifth, at 17.11 percent and the Bulldogs, seventh, at 12.81 percent.
Dorchester, third on the penalty kill at 83.73 percent, potted a division best 11 short-handed goals, led by Blewett's five, while the Bulldogs gave up eight shorties, second highest in the division.
Dorchester is 12-2 all-time against Mt. Brydges in the playoffs.
The Dolphins wrapped up the regular season with a 5-3 loss at Exeter. Ryan Van Roestel, Griffin Sinden, Noah Small scored for the 'Phins, who rested several players, including Blewett, Root, Buckholz and Newland.
Exeter finishes second, one point back of Dorchester, with a 29-8-0-3 record. The Hawks take on the Aylmer Spitfires, with their series starting in Aylmer on Wednesday.