Well, they did it. Despite being 12 points out on February 11th, the Hamilton Bulldogs made the playoffs, going 8-2 in their final 10 games to seal the deal. The bad news? Their first round opponent is the top team in the AHL, in the Rochester Americans. But enough of that for now, let’s deal with the week that was, beginning with the clinching game Wednesday vs Syracuse. Hamilton jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, before blowing it by the end of the 2nd. Syracuse was forced to pull their goalie late in the game to prevent Hamilton from gaining the point they needed, and that’s how the winner was scored, as Chris Higgins potted the empty-netter to give Hamilton the 4-3, and more importantly, a date in the playoffs. Friday was their season finale, where the Bulldogs scored the first and last goal, but was outscored 5-1 the rest of the way, falling 5-3 to their now playoff opponent in the Amerks.
Kostitsyn injured, Ott and Sanford return:
W Andrei Kostitsyn missed both games this week due to an ankle injury suffered in April 10th’s win over Manitoba, while C Steve Ott made his return to the lineup, taking Kostitsyn’s spot. D James Sanford, who earlier this month had been re-assigned back to Peoria for some playing time, was recalled after the Rivermen were eliminated from playoff contention.
Milroy wins Yanick Dupré award:
Last week, Duncan Milroy was, for the 2nd straight time, named Hamilton’s Man of the Year for his charitable work off the ice. This week, Milroy won the Yanick Dupré award, given yearly to the AHL’s Man of the Year for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations. A brief synopsis of Milroy’s work this season:
– Became official spokesperson for the Healthy HABits program, which promotes healthy lifestyles amongst youth…the program raised over $75,000 for local schools this year.
– Participated in the Raise a Reader program, designed to create awareness and raise money for family literacy initiatives. The program raised over $30,000 this year; Milroy donated $1,000 himself.
– Was the head promoter of the Smiles On Ice program, which raised over $20,000 for the McMaster Children’s Hospital.
– Fundraised for several local charities, allowing for the purchase of computers and playground equipment for local schools.
Bulldogs name individual award winners:
As is a team tradition, the Bulldogs named their individual award winners this week; each award was nominated by a different group. The winners:
Player of the Year: W Chris Higgins
Top Defenceman: D Dan Jancevski
Fans Choice Award: C Corey Locke
Community Leadership Award: W Duncan Milroy
Rookie of the Year: G Yann Danis
Top Scorer: C Tomas Plekanec
Molson Cup: G Yann Danis
Hometown Hero: C Steve Ott
By the Numbers:
Jean-Phillipe Cote, despite missing roughly half the season, had the team’s highest plus/minus with a +14. Last season, he also led the team with a +27. The Bulldogs also enjoyed success at the gate this season, averaging 5,793 fans per game, a record average. For the second straight season, C Tomas Plekanec was the team’s leading scorer, with 64 points; last season, he had 66. Plekanec and D Dan Jancevski played in all 80 games this season, only the 3rd and 4th Bulldog players to do so.
Yann Danis continued to dominate this week, winning his only game vs Syracuse, which clinched a playoff spot for the Bulldogs. Weekly Stats: 1 GP, 1-0 record, .923 SV%, 3.00 GAA. Meanwhile, Dan Ellis got the start in the finale, and had a rough night, allowing all 5 goals in the loss to Rochester. Weekly Stats: 1 GP, 0-1 record, 5.12 GAA, .853 SV%.
D Dan Focht (shoulder), out for the season
W Andrei Kostitsyn (ankle), status uncertain for the playoffs
Final Regular Season standings:
For the last several weeks, we have been covering the North Division standings to see who would earn the final playoff spot, and that was Hamilton. Now, here’s the final standings for the division:
Z-Clinched Conference, X-Clinched Playoffs, ^-Out of playoffs
The Weekly Bulldogs Stat Pack:
April 13: Hamilton 4, Syracuse 3 Scoresheet
April 15: Rochester 5, Hamilton 3 Scoresheet
Week Record: 1-1-0-0
Season Record: 38-29-7-6, 89 points (4th in division, 8th in conference, playoff matchup: Rochester)
Team Scoring Leaders:
|Weekly Scoring Leaders||Season Scoring Leaders|
Weekly Scoring Summary:
1) Hainsey (Daley, Plekanec) PP
2) Plekanec (Higgins, Miettinen)
3) Hainsey (Thinel, Ward)
4) Higgins (Plekanec) GWG, EN
5) Ott (Ward, Komisarek)
6) Jancevski (Sanford, Daley)
7) Plekanec (Daley, Miettinen) PP
Powerplay: 2/5 (40%)
Penalty Kill: 3/5 (60%)
Powerplay: 65/425 (15.3%)
Penalty Kill: 319/377 (84.6%)
Round 1 Playoff Schedule:
April 20: Hamilton vs Rochester
April 22: Hamilton vs Rochester
April 24: Rochester at Hamilton
April 26: Rochester at Hamilton
*April 29: Hamilton at Rochester
*May 1: Rochester at Hamilton
*May 2: Hamilton at Rochester
Week’s Long Beach Transactions:
No transactions this week:
April 13: Long Beach 3 Idaho 2
April 15: Idaho 3, Long Beach 2
April 16: Long Beach 4, Idaho 2
April 17: Long Beach 7, Idaho 2
The Long Beach Ice Dogs quickly disposed of their first round opponents in the Idaho Steelheads, and are now eagerly awaiting their round 2 opponent. The bad news: D Matt Shasby was injured in game 1, and has not yet returned to action. In other ECHL news, D James Sanford was recalled to Hamilton this week, as his Peoria Rivermen were eliminated from playoff contention.
C-Christian Larrivee (Long Beach) This Week: 4 GP, 1 G, 5 A, +5, 4 PIMS Playoffs: 4 GP, 1-5-6, +5, 4 PIMS
C-Cory Urquhart (Long Beach) This Week: 4 GP, 0 pts, 2 PIMS Playoffs: 4 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIMS
G-Olivier Michaud (Long Beach) This Week: DNP Playoffs: DNP
D-Matt Shasby (Long Beach) This Week: 1 GP, 0 pts Playoffs: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIMS
W-Michael Lambert (Long Beach) This Week: 4 GP, 4 G, 1 A, +2, 14 PIMS Playoffs: 4 GP, 4-1-5, +2, 14 PIMS
Bulldogs Player of the Week:
Each week, one Hamilton player will be selected as the HabsWorld Player of the Week. At the end of each month, you the fans will be able to vote on the Player of the Month. A different player will be nominated each week.
This week’s top player is C Tomas Plekanec, who, after being awarded Hamilton’s first ever top scorers award, went out and was the week’s top scorer, with 2 goals and 2 assists.
April Weekly Winners:
March 28-April 3: G Yann Danis
April 4-April 10: W Jason Ward
April 11-April 17: C Tomas Plekanec
Past Monthly Winners (as previously selected:)
October: G Yann Danis
November: C Tomas Plekanec
December: C Corey Locke
January: W Jason Ward
February: G Yann Danis
March: D Ron Hainsey