Hamilton Bulldogs: Chasing a Playoff Spot

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by EP31, AllHabs.net

MONTREAL, Q.C. — This past week saw the Hamilton Bulldogs begin a six-game long road trip with three games against division rivals.  The Bulldogs have been struggling to find wins on a regular basis. This is not exactly surprising given the fact that they have been without David Desharnais, Ryan White, Ryan Russell, and more recently  Frederic  St. Denis, Gabriel Dumont, Aaron Palushaj and Nigel Dawes. They are also without their number one goaltender Curtis Sanford (out for the rest of the season after he had shoulder surgery).

Hamilton Bulldogs @ Rochester Americans (March 16th)

The Bulldogs were looking to pick up some much needed points against the Americans (or Amerks as they’re frequently called). Both teams were probably thinking of their last tilt several days before in which the Amerks won a wild game 6-5, as this game was largely uneventful and quite uninteresting for the majority of it.  Andrew Conboy finally scored the game winning goal for the Bulldogs 14 minutes into the third period. Alexander Avtsin finally halted his very long scoring drought when he was credited with a strange goal at 19:57. He was tripped on his way to the Amerks empty net and was awarded a penalty shot. According to the rules, if a penalty shot is awarded when the net is empty; the team is automatically credited with a goal. Drew MacIntyre stopped 18 shots en route to his first shutout of the season while Tyler Plante took the loss for the Amerks.

Hamilton Bulldogs @ Abbotsford Heat (March 18th)

After the Amerks game, the Bulldogs headed out west for another North division battle with the Abbotsford Heat. It was a close-fought contest with the Bulldogs opening the scoring 13 minutes in courtesy of a Dustin Boyd goal. Their lead lasted barely a minute however, as the Heat answered right back with a goal from John Armstrong. Things got ugly early in the second period when Matt Pelech hit Hunter Bishop from behind into the boards. Pelech received a major and a game misconduct penalty. The Bulldogs were able to capitalize on the ensuing power play with a goal from Mathieu Carle. While the Bulldogs lead lasted longer, it didn’t last until the end of the period when Chris Breen scored for the Heat with just over a minute left in the second period. The third period saw nothing in the way of goal scoring but just when it less than a minute from going to overtime, Matt Keith scored Abbotsford giving the Heat the win. MacIntyre took the loss after stopping 41 of 44 shots while J-P Lamoureux  took the win after coming in to relieve Leland Irving.

Note: the Bulldogs lost recent Wheeling Nailer call-up Sebastien Bisaillon with what turned out later to be a ruptured spleen. Hunter Bishop’s brains were not turned to mush after the vicious hit and he would play in the next game.

Hamilton Bulldogs @ Abbotsford Heat (March 19th)

The Bulldogs had a chance to get even with the Heat the next night. The first period saw no scoring but involved two fights (Jimmy Bonneau and Matt Pelech (who avoided any suspension for his hit on Hunter Bishop) and Andrew Conboy and Chris Breen). Greg Nemisz scored for Abbotsford in the second period while Dany Masse was in the penalty box. Nemisz goal would actually stand as the game winning goal as Hamilton was unable to get on the scoreboard. Galen Patterson added the insurance marker for the Heat with an empty net goal at 19:05.  MacIntyre took the loss again for the Bulldogs (although this time he faced 27 shots instead of 44) while Lamoureux took the win again.

Note: the Bulldogs finished the game without Alexander Avtsin who was injured during the game.  The extent of his injury is unknown right now.

 

As of March 21, the Bulldogs are currently sitting fourth in their division and are actually out of a playoff spot.* The good news here is that the Bulldogs are only one point behind the third place Grand Rapids Griffins and are only three points from being tied with the Lake Erie Monsters and Manitoba Moose for first in the division.

 

The next Bulldogs games are this weekend as they play Friday, Saturday, Sunday against Rockford, Chicago and Peoria respectively.

 

*While the top four in each division gets a playoff spot, there is a cross-over rule in place where the fifth place team in the West Division would cross over and replace the fourth place team in the North Division if they have more points. Currently the fifth place Chicago Wolves of the West Division have two more points than the fourth place Hamilton Bulldogs.

(Photo by hamiltonbulldogs.com)

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