MONTREAL, QC. — Hamilton Bulldogs vs Manitoba Moose. It was the match-up yours truly was hoping to get. Aside from the fact that on paper, the Bulldogs have fared very well against the Moose this season, I was also looking forward to seeing a re-match of last year’s North Division semi-finals. Bulldogs / Moose games are always pretty fun to listen to (well, if “fun” means “yelling at the radio for three hours as the Moose goalies generally frustrate the heck out of you” anyway) and if last year’s series was anything to go by, we’d be in for another crazy series again this year (“crazy” of course meaning “one exhausting and nail-biting double OT game and one very stressful OT game”).
Hamilton Bulldogs vs Manitoba Moose, April 28
Well, we’ll just get to the ugly part of the game out of the way quickly. Long story short, the Moose got on the board first when Alexandre Bolduc put the puck past Drew MacIntyre very early in the first period. Blame it on the fact that they probably got all this momentum early on after they were rewarded a power-play chance (they failed on the actual power-play, but still). Their lead lasted all of 4:17, however, when Ryan Russell put the puck past Eddie Lack and tied the game.
After a close fought first period, I was expecting a similar second period with the shots on goal and scoring chances being pretty similar for both teams. Well, let’s just say there’s a reason why I’m a blogger and not a fortune teller.
It was The March of the Moose (to the penalty box). Garth Murray lead his team as he took not only a high-sticking penalty, but was also slapped with a misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of the ensuing power play, but they got another chance soon after when Sergei Shirokov went off for tripping. Aaron Palushaj banked one home on the power play putting the Bulldogs up 2-1. It was a lead that they wouldn’t give up. The Moose would take two more penalties and Nigel Dawes took advantage of it on the second power play chance. Alex Henry was finally given the Bulldogs first penalty since forever late in the period. Instead of the Moose scoring on the power play, however, it was J.T. Wyman who took the puck and put it passed Eddie Lack for the shorthanded goal. Yeah, not a great night for the Moose. The third period was closer to a MMA match than a hockey one with two fights, some slashing, hooking and elbowing, but no more goals. The Bulldogs took game 1 by a final score of 4-1.
Hamilton Bulldogs vs Manitoba Moose, May 1st
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: The Manitoba Moose start off the game by scoring early in the first period. No, I didn’t just copy and paste game one’s summary. Kevin Clark got the visiting team on the scoreboard just 2:43 into game 2. They managed to hold on to their lead for almost two more minutes than in game one (which would be all of roughly six minutes) before the Bulldogs tied the game on a power play goal by Mathieu Carle. How the home team wasn’t up by after the first period when they outshot the Moose 17-4 is anyone’s guess (well, okay, blame Eddie Lack among other things).
The Bulldogs fans had to hold their breath for the majority of the second period until Ryan Russell finally scored at the fourteen minute mark. Those of us that hadn’t passed out (seriously, how long can YOU hold your breath for?) were jumping up and down (or attempting to. It’s hard to jump up and down when you have no breath). Thankfully we didn’t need to hold our breath too long in the third period as Gabriel Dumont scored for the first time in a million years (no really, I don’t think Dwayne Roloson was even born the last time Dumont scored).
Oh and did I mention that Ryan White – kindly returned to Hamilton from Montreal – set him up? Welcome back Ryan White! Dumont added an empty net goal to put the Bulldogs up 4-1. With 30 seconds left and Lack on the bench, the Moose did get one goal back but they didn’t even celebrate the goal. Bulldogs fans were celebrating however, as their team left Copps Coliseum with a 4-2 win in game 2 and a 2-0 lead in the series.
The Bulldogs will now go to Winnipeg to play in games 3, 4, and (probably, but we’re kinda hoping not) 5. Here’s hoping that 1) the Canucks call up a few more players (I can dream, right?) and 2) no triple OT games in Manitoba (I can’t dream of the Canucks calling up players from the Manitoba if I’m not asleep, right?).