MONTREAL, QC.–There was a flicker of life in the farm this weekend–the Hamilton Bulldogs finally kicked off their season. They split the pair of games they disputed over the span of less than 24 hours for a 1-1-0-0 record heading into this week’s action.
Opening their 2010-2011 campaign this past Friday night against the Rochester Americans, things got off to a rocky start as the Panthers’ farm team jumped out to a 2-0 lead with the help of two power play goals before the Bulldogs answered with one marker to close out the first period, then four more to finish the game for a final score of 5-2. David Desharnais (1-1), Ben Maxwell (1-1) and Yannick Weber (0-2, 5 shots on goal) were honoured at the end of the game for their efforts.
Hamilton’s home opener the following day, despite a warm welcoming ceremony for the fans before the game involving many former Bulldogs, was not as successful on the ice as they would have liked. This time, they were the ones coming out to an early score of 2-0, before the Toronto Marlies continually cut the lead in half shortly after every time Hamilton would score. The third period was all Marlies as Brayden Irwin, Darryl Boyce and Luca Caputi rounded out the scoring for a final of 5-3. Ben Maxwell scored twice and Yannick Weber also got on the board for the Bulldogs. Max Pacioretty notched two assists.
The Bulldogs’ power play was 3 for 10 over both contests. With the now-infamous coaching change that left many worried, that is a number that is sure to be scrutinized, good or bad, throughout the season.
The other X factor is defense, and defense in terms of offense. Yannick Weber has made his presence felt thus far in the absence of PK Subban and will be called on to continually do so, along with the help of fellow blueliner Mathieu Carle, throughout the course of the season.
The clinic has already started to fill up with notable names, such as Aaron Palushaj, suffering from an ankle injury, Alexander Avtsin, who has a shoulder injury, and Curtis Sanford took a puck in the throat during a practice and was unable to start against the Marlies as scheduled. Avtsin could be ready for tonight’s rematch against the Rochester Americans, while no news has been released on Sanford. With an upcoming back-to-back doubleheader against the Manitoba Moose later on in the week, newly-signed netminder Peter Delmas could find his way between the pipes for his first professional start.
Meanwhile, in other news this weekend, the Bulldogs assigned defencemen Sebastien Bisaillon and David Urquhart to their ECHL affiliate in Wheeling.
Tonight’s game against the Americans gets underway at 7 p.m. at the Copps Coliseum, and fans can listen live online to 820 CHAM radio. Last season, the Bulldogs had the upper hand in their meetings, going 5-3-0-2.