The Hamilton Bulldogs have had their best start to a season in franchise history, earning at least a point in each of the team’s first 11 games. They sit currently in 2nd place in the North Division standings with a record of 7-0-1-3 (W-L-OTL-SOL); have 18 points, and are currently the only team in the AHL yet to have suffered a regulation loss.
The depth of this year’s Hamilton Bulldogs squad has become extremely evident in the early going of the 2009-2010 season. There are currently nine players on the roster with at least five points in only 11 games played this season, with Mathieu Darche, Ryan White, Brock Trotter, and Tom Pyatt leading the Bulldogs attack.
Goaltender Curtis Sanford has also had a stellar start to the season, posting two shutouts in eight games played. Sanford has been the backbone of a stingy Hamilton defence that has allowed just 22 goals. He ranks 4th among all current AHL goalies in goals against average, with a 1.32 GAA and a .950 save percentage.
This last week, on October 27, the Bulldogs wrapped up their road trip with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Houston Aeros, which was the only downfall on an otherwise successful three-game journey through Texas. Cedrick Desjardins received the start in goal for this one and faced 29 shots. Scoring for the Bulldogs was Yannick Weber, Tom Pyatt, and Ryan White.
Friday, October 30 saw the Bulldogs return to Hamilton to host the visiting Abbotsford Heat in the first of eight games between the North Division rivals this season. This year marks Abbotsford’s
inaugural season in the AHL. Last season, when the Heat played out of Quad City and were known as the Flames, the Bulldogs could not get a win and finished with an 0-1-1-0 record. The Dogs would continue that record against the Calgary Flames affiliate, this time losing 2-1 in another shootout. Tom Pyatt opened the scoring with four seconds remaining in the 1st period when the Heat’s goaltender came out of his net to play the puck. In the 2nd period, Curtis Sanford made the save of the game when he stacked his pads and slid across the goal crease to stop a point-blank shot from going into the Bulldogs net. He tried again with 45 seconds remaining in the period, but this time he was unable to stop the Heat from scoring to tie the game at 1-1. Neither team was able to score in the 3rd period, sending the game into overtime, where again both teams failed to score, although they both had good chances. Two out of three Abbotsford shooters beat Sanford in the shootout to win the game for the Heat.
On November 1, the Hamilton Bulldogs played a Sunday afternoon game vs the Peoria Rivermen in what was the final meeting between the two hockey clubs this season. The Bulldogs split two games with Peoria last season, finishing with a 1-1-0-0 record against the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. With Halloween being the night before, the Bulldogs must have gone out Trick or Treating and loaded up on chocolate, candy, and sugar because they came out flying and played a very spirited and entertaining game. Scoring for the Dogs was Mathieu Darche (2), Brock Trotter, and J.T. Wyman.
The Bulldogs played shorthanded for almost the last five minutes of the game. Mike Glumac was given a 5-minute interference penalty and a game misconduct. Shawn Belle was given a 2-minute penalty for boarding. The Dogs killed off both penalties being down 5-on-3. Shawn Belle then capped off the scoring with 1:54 remaining in the 3rd period. He stepped back out onto the ice from the penalty box, took a pass from Ryan Russell, and snapped a shot into the top corner of the net to give the Bulldogs a 5-2 victory.