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Bulldogs Hope to Build From Strong Effort

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs (9-13-1-1)  host the Coquitlam Express (13-8-3-1) tonight at the Alberni Valley Multiplex.

The Bulldogs dropped their 4th straight game last night to the Nanaimo Clippers, it was a hard fought 5-4 final.  With a little luck, the Bulldogs nearly forced OT with a couple of late empty net chances.  Luck however has been tough to find for the Bulldogs of late.

Trailing 5-2 after 40, the short-handed Bulldogs staged a rally that ultimately fell just short.  The hope for the Bulldogs is that the effort in the final 20 minutes last night against the Clippers can carry over to tonight’s contest against the Express.  The message from Joe Martin was simple to the players.  A 60-minute effort, will earn results.  Anything short of that, and the troubles will continue.

The Express are red hot as they try to stay with the Clippers and Eagles at the top of the Coastal Conference standings.  The Express are 7-2-1-0 in their past 10 and are led by former Bulldog Mirko Buttazzoni.  Buttazzoni was dealt last season to the Express for their captain Arlo Merritt.  The hope was that Merritt would push the Bulldogs over the top for their playoff drive.  The move with an eye to future for the Express has paid dividends. Buttazzoni has posted 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points.

The Bulldogs will once again be without the services of leading scorers Ethan Bono and Matthew Maltais.  David Sacco can now be added to the list of Bulldogs not dressed tonight as he was involved in his 2nd fight of the season last night meaning an automatic 1 game ban from the BCHL.

The Bulldogs and Express are meeting for the 2nd time this year.  Back on October 28th the Bulldogs earned a 5-2 win over Coquitlam.  Hobie Hedquist stopped 31 of 33 shots that night and the Bulldogs got a pair of goals from Matthew Maltais and Ethan Bono chipped in with one as well.  With the pair out of the line up tonight, the Bulldogs will need someone else to step up and help turn around their fortunes.

Tonight marks the final home game for the Bulldogs before the BCHL Christmas break.  The team hits the road for 3 games next week against the same Express on Wednesday and make stops in Surrey and Langley to close out the pre-Christmas schedule.  The club’s next home game is set for New Year’s Eve when they host Powell River.