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Saturday night in Cobourg ON, the Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies faced off in a well attended preseason opener. Not only were all the seats filled but much of the Maple Leafs and Canadiens brain trust were in the building including Leafs GM Brian Burke and Canadiens Assistant GM's Rick Dudley and Larry Carriere.
The game itself was a spirited affair but it was easy to tell that it was the first real competition many of the players have faced in months. Many players had timing issues and some were down right lost.
I wont speak much on the game as the Bulldogs only mustered 1 goal by Stephen MacAulay, former and current teammate of Nathan Beaulieu but here are some thoughts on the players.
Blake Geoffrion:- He was horrible! He took 3 penalties 2 of which were 200 feet from his own net and created next to nothing offensively. He was given the opportunity to play with decent players and started many shifts in the offensive zone. I was unimpressed and disappointed.
Patrick Holland:- Had limited ice and looked very tentative on the ice. He appears to be a perimeter player but really not a fair shake considering this was his first taste of pro hockey and he played 4th liner minutes.
Alexander Avtsin:- Competed only in 1 zone; the offensive one, not a wise decision with a lot of decision makers watching the game from above. His back check seemed lethargic and his overall compete level left much to be desired. That said on 2 occasions he made incredible moves to create space for his line mates in the offensive zone.
Gabriel Dumont:- Excellent speed and fantastic on the penalty kill. During one particular shift while on the penalty kill the Marlies had possession for over 90 seconds and he blocked 4 shots; the last one causing him quite a bit of pain. In the offensive zone he battled hard but was unable to win most puck battles.
Unfortunately Louis Leblanc and Brendan Gallagher were both healthy scratches.
Nathan Beaulieu:- He was the best Bulldogs skater and he was very involved offensively. His first pass was great but at times risky. He had 3 turnovers but that is to be expected with his style of game. I was also impressed with his stamina, twice he was caught up ice late in a shift and skated very hard to get back. However his shift length will need to be shortened because he did like to stay out for extended periods.
Jarred Tinordi: Ė He penalty killing efforts were Hal Gill-esque. He uses his large body to his advantage blocking passing lanes and making cross crease plays very difficult for the opposition. His first pass was acceptable but he seemed more comfortable letting his partner make most of the plays up ice. Tinordi used his body well to separate players from the puck.