HANCOCK — The Hancock Bulldogs closed out their opening weekend of the 2023-24 hockey season with a 3-3 tie in overtime to the visiting Hartland Eagles.
The Eagles, who were playing their third game in three days, led 2-0 after one and then 3-1 at the end of the second period. However two goals by the Bulldogs (1-0-1) in the third knotted it at three.
“While we started out a little slow, I liked how we bounced back in the third to tie it against a very good Hartland team,” said Bulldogs coach Pete Rouleau. “It showed resilience on our part. We did not give up and that is a good sign to see.”
The Eagles (0-1-1) took control of the ice with two goals in the first. The first one came off the stick of Ty Kraut courtesy of an assist by Eli Sturos at around the 12:45 mark. Less than four minutes later, Hartland’s Michael Zelinski beat a Hancock defender and goalie Daniel Wrobleski to make it a 2-0.
“After the first, I told the guys to pressure them more and go to work making plays,” said Rouleau.
The Bulldogs did step it up a bit and got on the scoreboard thanks to a power-play goal by captain Bryce Hanner. It was the Eagles only penalty of the game – two minutes for roughing by Johnny Peffer. Interestingly, the Bulldogs had just two minutes as well, also in the second, as Bennett Sturos went to the box for roughing.
A one-goal lead for the Eagles returned to a two-goal one with less than three minutes to go in the second as Jake Pietila found the back of the net, putting Hartland ahead, 3-1, after two periods of play.
The third period belonged to the Bulldogs as they scored twice to tie it and push the game into overtime.
First, it was Todd Kilpela midway through the third. Alone at the top of the circle, he saw daylight and slapped one in for net. Then, with just two minutes left in regulation, the Bulldogs’ Brady Axford shoveled a loose puck in front of the net in for the tie at three.
While the Eagles outshot the Bulldogs 39-26, they could not get one to go in and seal the deal, nor could Hancock.
Eagles coach Rick Gadwa said he would have obviously liked to have won this one, but was pleased with what he saw in a young Hartland team.
“We have our flaws and are still feeling out where we are in this new season,” he said. “I know one thing that we need to do and work on is getting the momentum, keeping it, and finishing the game.”