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BELLEVILLE, ON - Although only one goal was scored, the Belleville Bulls and Kingston Frontenacs battled, bruised and competed on Saturday night, with Austen Brassard's lone goal 16:29 into the first period standing as the difference maker in a 1-0 Belleville win at the Yardmen Arena.
Another chapter of the historic East Division rivalry opened with spookish undertones as Bulls fans came dressed in Halloween attire to cheer on their team. With the big day just around the corner, the Belleville faithful were hoping their boys could trick two points out of the Kingston Frontenacs who entered the game losers of their last four consecutive.
The Frontenacs came out in the early stages with a fire lit under them, taking every opportunity to send pucks toward Malcolm Subban in the Belleville goal. The Bulls were caught out on long shifts on occasion, and like sharks to blood, the Frontenacs ramped up the pressure but couldn't get past the Belleville goaltender.
A penalty free first period saw one goal when all was said and done as Austen Brassard flashed his offensive skill, displaying patience and a great shot as he worked his way around Kingston forward Jean Dupuy before beating Morrison with a hard wrist shot over the blocker shoulder at 16:29.
The Bulls led 1-0 headed to the intermission as Kingston controlled the shooting category 16-12.
Belleville came out inspired for the second frame, laying the body on everything that moved as Brady Austin, Austen Brassard, Garrett Hooey and the rest of the Bulls demolition crew were all business.
The Bulls put the pressure on Kingston for much of the period as overaged goaltender Mike Morrison played a large role in keeping the game within one goal for his club. Bulls rookie centreman Niki Petti was dynamite in the faceoff circle, as his line alongside Daniil Zharkov and Aaron Berisha racked up quality scoring chances. Late in the first, Petti had an open net on Morrison who had sprawled out to take a goal away from Zharkov, and Petti narrowly put the puck over the goal.
Belleville defender Adam Bignell came to the aid of teammate Petti three quarters of the way through the frame after Kingston forward Slater Doggett got his hands up on a hit along the wall. Bignell sent Doggett to the ice after a fair exchange of rights between the two competitors.
Morrison provided a big breakaway save off of Garrett Hooey to close out the period after Scott Simmonds' hard work at the defensive blueline sprung his linemate in alone. Hooey tried to beat Morrison through the legs, but the Hamilton native kept the wickets shut as a 1-0 game spilled over into the third frame.
Despite the low score, scoring chances were coming on both sides of the puck, and the Bulls saved their best hockey for the third period. Playing hard along the boards and cycling the puck effectively, the Belleville bruisers in Carter Sandlak, Garrett Hooey and Joseph Cramarossa were at their best, lugging the puck, dishing out hits and taking some big ones in the process.
Much of the third was spent in the Kingston zone, as the Frontenac defenders couldn't seem to muscle the Belleville forwards off the puck.
Kingston battled to the final buzzer, as they battled to a faceoff in the Belleville zone with four seconds remaining. Ryan Kujawinski won the draw clean back to Michael Moffat on the blueline who wristed a shot through traffic. Fortunately for the Bulls, Subban was there for his 31st save of the night as they took a 1-0 decision over their East Division rivals.
Austen Brassard was named the game's third star with a goal and a bushel of scoring chances. Goaltender Mike Morrison took second star honours with 36 saves in the pipes for Kingston and Malcolm Subban's 31 save shutout got him the first star of the game.
The Bulls hit the road for the next two weeks with visits to London, Saginaw and Windsor next weekend and a trip to Kingston before returning home on November 10th to face the Saginaw Spirit at 7:05pm.
The 8-4-1-0 Bulls will be holding the annual Breakfast with the Bulls on Sunday morning at the Sears Atrium from 9:00-11:00am. Tickets can be purchased upon entry and the cost is just ten dollars.