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Game Day Preview: Bulldogs vs Capitals

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs (16-9-3-0) travel to Duncan to take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals (8-20-0-1) in BCHL action tonight.

The contest features two clubs with very different objectives currently.  The Bulldogs are in a heated race at the top of the Coastal Conference, while the Capitals are in a dog fight with the Coquitlam Express for the final Coastal Conference playoff spot.  The two clubs are currently tied, however the Express hold 3 games in hand on the Caps.

The Bulldogs haven’t played since New Year’s Day when the knocked off Cowichan 2-0 in Duncan.  Since then, the Bulldogs were forced to skip games against the Caps and the Clippers as both teams entered BCHL COVID protocols.  The Caps find themselves in a similar situation, not having played since January 2nd when they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Powell River Kings.  Expect both teams to shake off some early rust.

The Bulldogs 2-0 win on January 1st saw Hayden Dunford make 19 saves en-route to his 1st BCHL shutout and victory.  The Bulldogs got goals from Kai Greeves, his 1st BCHL goal, and Brandon Buhr with his 10th of the season.  Buhr has FEASTED on the capitals this year with 6 goals and 10 points in the 5 game season series.  The Bulldogs are 4-1-0-0 in the season series to date, and are an impressive 25-8-1-0 head to head against Cowichan in the past 5 seasons.

A pair of newly acquired Bulldogs will make their team debuts tonight as Luke Rybinski and Arlo Merritt draw into the line-up.  Merritt was the Bulldogs prized acquisition in advance of the BCHL trade deadline.  Merritt was the captain of the Coquitlam Express and led the club with 12 goals before the Bulldogs snagged him in exchange for youngster Mirko Buttazzoni.  Rybinski meanwhile started the season with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers and will provide some size and versatility on the back end.  At 6’4″, Rybinski is a tough defender to get around and the Bulldogs are excited about the depth he will bring to the club’s back end as the Bulldogs march towards the BCHL playoffs.

Facts & Figures:

  • The Bulldogs are one of just two BCHL to be undefeated when scoring the games 1st goal.  The Bulldogs are an impressive 12-0-0-0 when lighting the lamp 1st in a game.  The only team to out-do them?  The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are 16-0-0-0 when scoring 1st.
  • The Bulldogs power play is 8th in the BCHL at 23.5 %, but it takes a big jump when the Bulldogs hit the road.  Away from the Dawg Pound, the Bulldogs man-advantage works at an even 30% for the year.