As Montreal Canadiens fans are aware, the Hamilton Bulldogs are the main affiliate of the Habs, in place to help develop prospect players in their quest to one day play in the NHL. As such, call-ups from the AHL can be, and are, a common occurrence through the season. But it was this last round of recalls that had the die-hard fans of the Bulldogs in a total panic as their top players, Brock Trotter, David Desharnais, and Ryan White were boarding an airplane enroute to Montreal just as the Dogs were about to begin the weekend portion of this last week’s schedule.
So how did the Bulldogs do without their top players in the line-up?
I have always stated that the Bulldogs biggest strength is their ability to come together during injuries and call-ups and this current situation has proven to be no different as Hamilton won all three games on their schedule this past week without those top players for two out of three of those games and extended their current winning streak to seven games in a row and set a new franchise record in the process.
On Wednesday February 3rd, the Bulldogs and the San Antonio Rampage (affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes) met for the second and last time this season at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. The last time the two teams met was back on October 23rd when the Bulldogs traveled to Texas, playing to a 3-0 win over the Rampage. It was Curtis Sanford who earned the shutout in that game and guess what? He did it again in this one as well, getting his fourth shutout of the season, as the Dogs defeated the Rampage by a score of 4-0. Scoring for the Hamilton Bulldogs was Brock Trotter, David Desharnais, Mike Glumac, and P.K. Subban. Trotter also picked up three assists; Desharnais had two.
Two days later, on Friday February 5th, the Bulldogs traveled to the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. There, they took on the Rochester Americans (affiliate of the Florida Panthers) in the eighth of ten games this season between the North Division rivals. Coming into this game, the Bulldogs had a 3-3-0-1 record so far this season vs the Amerks and an all-time record of 55-63-7-0-4. In their previous meeting, only two weeks ago, the Bulldogs destroyed the Americans by a score of 6-1. Rochester, sitting in second place in the Division and nine points behind the first-place Bulldogs, were probably hoping to make up some lost ground in the standings knowing that Hamilton’s top players were headed to Montreal at that time.
However, the Hamilton Bulldogs had other ideas and dashed the hopes of the Rochester Americans, defeating them by a score of 5-2, the offensive onslaught led by Tom Pyatt, who scored a hat-trick to extend the Dogs winning streak to six games, their longest winning streak since the 2002-2003 season. In addition to Pyatt‘s three goals, J.T. Wyman and Mike Glumac each scored to help the Bulldogs achieve their 520th win in franchise history.
The new franchise record that I mentioned earlier would be set the following evening on Saturday February 6th when the Bulldogs traveled to Toronto to take on the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. Hamilton outshot Toronto in this game by a count of 43-12 enroute to a 2-1 victory. What is interesting about this new record of allowing the fewest shots on goal during a game, is the fact that the previous record of 13 shots was set eight years ago during a game vs the Hershey Bears on this very same day…..February 6th.
Mike Glumac would score both of the two goals against Toronto in this record-breaking game, with P.K. Subban getting assists on each one, along with Ryan Russell.
And to wrap up with some final stats, the Hamilton Bulldogs continue to occupy 1st place in the North Division; 1st place in the Western Conference; and 2nd place overall in the American Hockey League with a season record of 34-12-3-4 and 75 points.