The Hamilton Bulldogs entered this last week’s series of games riding a four-game winning streak. As they exit and head into the AHL All-Star break, they continue to ride a streak. But this time it’s a four-game losing streak, something that Coach Guy Boucher and the Hamilton Bulldogs have not been familiar with this season until now.
On Monday January 11, the Lake Erie Monsters would once again face the Bulldogs in the fifth of eight contests between the North Division counterparts this season. This would also be the first of two matchups between Hamilton and Lake Erie this week, as the Monsters would visit Copps Coliseum on Wednesday January 13th.
Hamilton opened the scoring at 3:28 of the first frame while on the power play. Mikael Johansson received the puck from Andre Benoit while stationed at the right faceoff dot. Johansson released a shot that beat Lake Erie starting goaltender Tyler Weiman low on the blocker side. Trotter added the Dogs second goal while on the power play at 11:23. Ben Maxwell sent a pass to Trotter, who used a forehand-to-backhand deke before sending the puck over a sprawled Weiman, off the crossbar and into the net.
The Bulldogs let their two-goal lead slip away as the Monsters tied up the game with goals in both the second and third periods to force a sudden-death overtime, where Lake Erie ended the game at 3:58 of the extra period with a 3-2 win.
As I mentioned above, the Hamilton Bulldogs and Lake Erie Monsters would play again on Wednesday January 13th, and the Bulldogs were defeated for the second straight game, this time by a final score of 5-3. The Bulldogs scored two goals late in the game but the Monsters added two of their own late in the third period to seal the victory. Scoring for Hamilton was Ben Maxwell, Andre Benoit, and Ryan White. Goaltender Curtis Sanford made his 2010 debut between the pipes in this game after being sidelined for two weeks with the shoulder injury he received on New Years Eve in a game vs the Grand Rapids Griffins. Sanford showed some rust in his return as he allowed the Monster’s first three goals on only eleven shots.
Following these two losses, Guy Boucher put the Bulldogs through a gruelling practice session that would have made the late Herb Brooks proud. This was followed by a verbal talk to the team, containing many words which are not suitable for young children and elderly people with heart conditions.
Whatever was said and done appeared to have worked. Friday January 15th marked the sixth of ten meetings between the Bulldogs and their arch-rivals, the Rochester Americans. As one of the fans sitting in the seats at the Dog Pound that night, I can personally tell you that this was the most INTENSE hockey game I have witnessed the Bulldogs play all season long. I was exhausted just sitting there and watching. It was like Game #7 in the Stanley Cup Finals which had gone to overtime.
And this game would go to overtime.
In fact, this game would go to a shootout, where the Amerks would emerge with a 6-5 victory, giving the Dogs their third loss in a row. I don’t like seeing the Bulldogs lose, but, holy cow, was this game ever fun to watch!!!
Brock Trotter (2 goals), Mathieu Darche, Ben Maxwell, and Mike Glumac would score for the Dogs, with assists by David Desharnais (3 assists), Yannick Weber (2 assists), Ryan White, P.K. Subban, Shawn Belle, and Brock Trotter once again. Cedrick Desjardins made 32 saves on 37 shots.
On Saturday January 16th, the Hamilton Bulldogs would wrap up their week leading into the All-Star break as they travelled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a game against the Griffins.
Grand Rapids opened the game’s scoring at 17:23 of the first frame. Patrick Rissmiller sent a pass to Slovakian World Junior standout Tomas Tatar, who was positioned in front of the net. Tatar one-timed a shot past Hamilton starting goaltender Curtis Sanford.
The Griffins took a 2-0 lead at 3:25 of the second stanza. While shorthanded, Francis Pare skated in alone on Sanford, where he used a forehand-to-backhand deke before sliding the puck past the goaltender.
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard at 7:48 of the final frame. David Desharnais scooped up the puck behind the net before feeding a pass to Ryan White, who was positioned in front of the net. White snapped a shot that beat Grand Rapids starting goaltender Daniel Larsson through the legs.
The Griffins added an empty net marker at 19:53 to seal the 3-1 victory.