Round two is under way and the Belleville Bulls are in familiar territory. After Games One and Two, on home ice the Bulls are leading the series 2-0. This time their opponent is the fifth seeded Sudbury Wolves. Belleville came in to this series as the favourite, maybe not as big of a favourite, as they were in the first round, but the favourite still. Saying that, if we learned anything from the first round Vs the Mississauga Steelheads. Its that in JR. hockey, anyone can beat anyone on any given night, momentum is huge. Sudbury knows that too, in the opening round they upset the higher seeded Brampton Battalion in five games.
In Game One Belleville would defeat the Wolves by a score of 6-3. The Bulls outshot Sudbury 46-32 and they started testing Franky Palazzese early and it paid off, the Toro's would jump out to a two goal lead.. At 3:09 Niki Petti would score his 1st career OHL playoff goal on a high backhander after Michael Curtis worked the puck out from behind the net to him. Fellow rookie Aaron Berisha also picked up his 1st career playoff point drawing the second assist. Belleville's next goal was netted by Minnesota Prospect Tyler Graovac (3) at 12:30 from Alan Quine and Brendan Gaunce on the power play. A common trend this season with the Bulls has been to let the dreaded 2 goal lead slip away. Game one was an other example of this trend. Because after 20 minutes the game was tied 2-2. Sudbury got on the board at 15:53 when Michael Kantor picked up his second of the post season from Evan de Haan and Jacob Harris. Joseph Cramarossa took an ill timed roughing penalty at 18:09, and the Wolves power play unit tied the game at 19:41 when Domink Kahun (1) beat Malcolm Suibban. de Haan picked up his second apple of the night on the goal, Dominik Kubalik also had a helper.
In the second period Belleville outshot the Wolves 17-8 and scored 3 goals. Carter Sandlak picked up his team leading 4th at 1:27 from linemates Austen Brassard and Garrett Hooey giving Belleville a 3-2 lead. Next it was Daniil Zharkov scoring what would turn out to be the game winner his 2nd with Brady Austin and Quine assisting. Zharkov scores a lot of his goals with his NHL caliber shot but this goal was scored because the Bulls protected the puck down low and after a couple whacks from the short side Daniil was able to bang it home. Bulls power play would also show up again in the middle frame at 13:10 when veteran Scott Simmonds picked up his third from Gaunce and Graovac.
Nathan Pancel would score the Wolves third goal at 4:32 from Mathew Campagna. Belleville also added one more for good measure at 17:58, Stephen Silas got the Bulls sixth goal from Sandlak and Brassard. Bulls win 6-3.
Bulls PP 2/5, PK 3/4. Attendance : 2593
3 Stars : 3- SBY Evan de Haan, 2- BELV Carter Sandlak, 1- BELV Tyler Graovac.
We knew in game two that we would see a different Sudbury team, but it was also a different Belleville team we seen. This was a real team effort from the Bulls. They had a game plan and it work really well, every player dressed was rolling and doing their part. In round one we talked a little bit about Jordan Subban and how the Bulls need him to play his game, (carry the puck, move the puck shoot the puck). Jordan wasn't bad bad in the 1st round but he was safe. It was Graovac who carried the puck in to the zone and with two defenders on him he feed the puck to Subban, who turned on the jets flew passed a Wolves player and put home his second of the post season, Zharkov had the other assist. Silas put Belleville up 2-0 on the power play from Jake Cardwell and Gaunce at 11:26. After the first 20 minutes Belleville was up 3-0 thanks to some more strong play from the Brassard, Hooey, Sandlak line when Brassard scored at 18:42.
Neither team would score in the middle frame but the Bulls carried the play outshooting the Wolves 11-4 and playing a physical game as well as I've seen them do this year, without exaggeration it felt like Belleville had the puck the whole time. Palazzese was strong all of the Bulls shots were good chances. Cardwell and Campagna had a go, and to be honest the Wolves were just as physical as Belleville they just couldn't get the puck.
It was the visiting team that would score 1st in the 3rd period when Pancel broke up Malcolm Subban's shutout bid at 4:58 with Campagna and Kubalik picking up the apples. Belleville would employee what I guess you would call a 1-4 the rest of the way as they would only send 1 skater in to the offensive zone, it showed on the shot clock as the Wolves out shot the Bulls 6-3. Joseph Cramarossa would add an empty netter at 19:15 to seal the deal, Berisha picked up the lone assist. Bulls win 4-1
Bulls PP 1/2, PK 3/3. Attendance 2742 (It looked like more but maybe it was because the parking lot was beyond full thanks to the Home Show.)
3 Star : 3- BELV Stephen Silas, 2- BELV Austen Brassard, 1-BELV Garrett Hooey
Notes : Belleville has scored 1st in every playoff game they have played......Carter Sandlak, Garrett Hooey and Austen Brassard are playing some of there best hockey of the season and when their rolling its hard to stop the Bulls it gives them three really stronf lines. Sandlak leads the team in goals with 4.......Graovac is on a 12 game point streak dating back to March 11th, in the playoffs he is the Bulls leading point producer with 13 points (3G,8A.....Daniil Zharkov has 2 goals in the post season and both have been game winners......Brendan Gaunce has points in all but one playoff game.....Cardwell and Brady Austin are each ranked +10.....Malcolm Subban has the best GAA in the playoffs at 1.63 and 4th in SV% at .939....Daniil Zharkov was in what might have been the 1st maybe 2nd fight in the OHL in Game Two and I think he has been spending some time in Stirling, he went all Rob Ray and the jersey came off and he kept swinging.
If Belleville wants to win they have to keep coming hard, the Wolves aren't going to just lay down. The Bulls should expect Sudbury to have a full building behind them and will come out hard. Sudbury is a fast hard hitting team and if Belleville lets up they will be in trouble. I don't think we've seen the best of Palazzese and if his team gets him a lead, he has the skills to hold it. Look for the Bulls to try and score early and often, and then turn to their own game stealer Malcolm Subban to hold the fort.
GAME THREE - at Sudbury - Tuesday, April 9th (7:30pm) GAME FOUR - at Sudbury - Thursday, April 11th (7:30pm) GAME FIVE - at Belleville - Saturday, April 13th (7:05pm)* GAME SIX - at Sudbury - Monday, April 15th (7:05pm)* GAME SEVEN - at Belleville - Tuesday, April 16th (7:05pm)*