The Hamilton Bulldogs head into their Christmas break after playing four games this last week, with three of them being played on three consecutive nights in a row.
On Tuesday December 15, the Milwaukee Admirals (affiliate of the NHL Nashville Predators) made their first of two trips to Copps Coliseum for what was the beginning of a four-game season series between the two hockey clubs.
David Desharnais gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the game at 9:37 of the first period when he hit a loose rebound past Milwaukee goaltender, Chet Pickard, compliments of a shot by Mike Glumac which Pickard initially stopped. If Pickard’s name maybe sounds familiar to some, it’s because he played for the Tri City Americans in the Western Hockey League, serving as backup goaltender to Carey Price.
Hamilton would carry their 1-0 lead into the third period. It was at this time that perhaps some Bulldogs fans were beginning to think that maybe the team was en-route to their 8th shutout of the season. Unfortunately, those fans would be disappointed because Milwaukee scored three very quick quick goals on Curtis Sanford at 7:28, 8:05, and 11:08 to make a comeback and take a 3-1 lead. If anyone in attendance had gone up to the concession stands to get a hot dog or some more popcorn during this scoring outburst, they must have stared at the scoreboard in disbelief upon returning to their seats, wondering what had just happened.
Mathieu Darche (who had taken a puck off the side of this head earlier in the game and wasted no time in going to the medical room) made a valiant attempt to keep the Bulldogs close by scoring his 8th goal of the season, assisted by Greg Stewart and J.T. Wyman at 17:48, but the Milwaukee Admirals would hang on to defeat the Hamilton Bulldogs by a final score of 3-2.
Those fans who were earlier expecting the Hamilton shutout to happen would have to wait until Friday December 18, when the Bulldogs travelled to Glens Falls, New York, to take on the Adirondack Phantoms, where the Baby Habs earned their 8th shutout victory of the season by defeating the affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers by a final score of 4-0. Cedrick Desjardins would improve his impressive shutout game totals to five, which currently makes him the number one goalie in the AHL in that category.
Scoring for the Bulldogs against Adirondack was Greg Stewart, Brock Trotter, David Desharnais, and Ben Maxwell.
The next day, Saturday December 19, the Hamilton Bulldogs would travel through the snowstorm which hammered the Eastern United States, to face former-Bulldog Corey Locke and the Hartford Wolfpack.
Locke, the current top scorer in the American Hockey League, was kept off the score sheet as the Dogs tamed the Wolfpack (affiliate of the New York Rangers) 4-1. Corey may have been refused getting his name on the official scoring paper, but it was not so for Mathieu Carle, David Desharnais, P.K. Subban, and Ryan White, who all tallied for the Bulldogs when the game was over.
Sunday December 20 was the final game for the Hamilton Bulldogs before the Christmas break when they faced their arch-rivals, the Rochester Americans, in a game that would decide which team would emerge from this contest as the first place team in the AHL’s North Division.
Both teams came into this game tied with 41 points.
The opening goal of this pivotal game was awarded to the Bulldogs at 9:28 of the first period when Rochester accidentally put the puck into their own net. Benoit Pouliot was credited with the goal. Somehow, the Amerks starting goalie, Alexander Salak, was injured on the play and was replaced for the remainder of the game by backup goalie Chris Beckford-Tseu.
The two teams would trade goals back and forth for the duration of what was a very exciting hockey game. Scoring for the Bulldogs in regulation time after the fluke goal was J.T. Wyman and Mathieu Darche. Darche would get a hat trick in this game, scoring the Bulldogs third and fourth goals, and he also got the game-winning goal in overtime as the Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Rochester Americans 5-4.
This victory was an early Christmas present from Santa Claus…….the Hamilton Bulldogs are now in 1st place in the North Division, and 3rd overall in the AHL.