(CP) — Gabriel Dumont had the Midas touch on Friday, and the Hamilton Bulldogs took full advantage of it.
"It was one of those nights," said Dumont. "I was just going in front of the net and guys made good plays.
"We call them garbage goals but I’ll take them."
Jason Jaffray had two goals and Patrice Cormier had one for the IceCaps (14-17-0-1), while Eddie Pasquale stopped 24 shots in relief of starter Mark Dekanich. Dekanich stopped seven of 10 shots in 12:32 of work.
Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre praised Dumont’s attitude in the wake of his five-point performance.
"(Dumont) is the kind of guy who thrives on opportunities," said Lefebvre. "We’ve put him in all kinds of different situations this year and he’s delivered every time. He’s a battler and he works hard.
"He’s the type of guy who wants to win."
The hosts opened the scoring on the power play after the IceCaps Eric O’Dell was whistled for roughing at 2:59 of the first.
Patrick Holland drifted in from the point, holding the puck as traffic gathered in front of Dekanich, before letting loose a wristshot that Dumont tipped in at 3:14.
Hamilton’s fast and physical start to the game had their visitors on their heels, and the Bulldogs doubled their advantage just over three minutes later.
Winger Alexander Avtsin, playing in just his fifth game of the season, created the goal with an inspired bit of stick-handling.
He carried the puck down the left wing and beat his defender with a well-executed toe drag before wheeling to the front of the net and firing on Dekanich. The initial shot was saved, but Leblanc was quick to respond to the rebound and nudged the puck in.
Hamilton capped off a dominant period with another power-play goal at 12:32. Dumont was the recipient once again, gathering a trickling puck and jamming it past Dekanich at his near post for his second goal and third point of the period.
It marked the first time that a Bulldog has scored three or more points in a game, let alone a single period, this season.
Dekanich was removed from the game after allowing three goals on 10 shots.
The visitors trimmed their deficit at 2:27 of the second period, when Raymond Sawada led a streaking Jaffray with a cross-ice pass and the winger snapped a quick shot past Mayer from the high slot.
St. John’s took another step toward a comeback while short-handed, when a Bulldogs giveaway sent two IceCaps in alone on Mayer. Spencer Machacek‘s initial shot was saved, but Cormier waited as the rebound trickled to him and slotted it in at 5:34.
The IceCaps had tilted momentum in their favor, and it came as no surprise when they leveled the game late in the second period.
Jaffray scored his second game of the game, gathering the puck just above the left circle and firing a wrist shot past a partially-screened Mayer and just inside the far post at 17:02.
It took the Bulldogs less than two minutes to propel themselves back into the lead in the third.
Ellis controlled the puck just inside the blue line and inched forward before releasing a heavy slapshot that sailed through traffic and past the outstretched blocking glove of Pasquale at 1:39.
Dumont was credited with an assist on the play for his fourth point of the night, which marked a career single-game high for the center.
Lefebvre was thankful for the two points gained on Friday, but hoped that his team could learn to protect its leads better in the future.
"The guys showed character and they rallied between the second and third," said the coach. "They came back out and played well and it showed on the scoreboard.
"But sometimes it might be fun to have easy games too."
Dumont would add another goal for good measure at 18:30, effectively sealing the win for Hamilton.
Nash scored into an empty net a minute later.