The Sandman has returned.
Is that Commissioner Gordon calling Batman on the batphone, warning the Caped Crusader that an arch-villain has once again returned to Gotham City, just as it always happened on the old Batman television show that I used to watch as a kid? No. In this case, The Sandman refers to the nickname of Hamilton Bulldogs goaltender Curtis Sanford.
Sanford has struggled in goal since coming back from his shoulder injury, but his performance in the last few games makes one think that he is definitely on a comeback to regaining his original form that fans saw earlier in the season.
But, more on this thought in a moment. First, as January has come to an end, this means that it’s time once again to take a look at the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-Stars of the Month.
Here are my picks:
1. Brock Trotter (13 goals; 9 assists; chosen as one of the 3-Stars of the Game 5 times; and was voted as the Hardest Working Bulldogs player in a game.)
2. David Desharnais (2 goals; 15 assists; chosen as one of the 3-Stars of the Game; and was voted as the Hardest Working Bulldogs player in a game 3 times.)
3. Ben Maxwell (6 goals; 6 assists; chosen as one of the 3-Stars of the Game; and was voted as the Hardest Working Bulldogs player in a game.)
The Hamilton Bulldogs Goaltender of the Month goes to [b]Cedrick Desjardins[/b] (9 GP; 6 Wins; 3 Losses; chosen as one of the 3-Stars of the Game 4 times.) Cedrick finishes the month with a 1.84 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
Despite Desjardins being chosen in this category, I want to turn our attention back to his counterpart, Curtis Sanford.
On Wednesday January 27th, the Bulldogs faced off against the Rockford Ice Hogs in the second of two meetings this season, which would also begin a four-game road trip for the Dogs in the Chicago area. The last time the teams met was back on October 9th in the Bulldogs home-opener at Copps Coliseum. Curtis Sanford picked up his 1st shutout as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs in that one (and only his 2nd game as a Bulldog) with the Dogs winning by a final score of 3-0. This time around, Sanford would lead the Bulldogs to a 5-0 victory over Rockford, posting his third shutout of the season; his second consecutive shutout over the affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks; and the sixth shutout on the road for the Bulldogs this season, which sets a new franchise record. Brock Trotter would score 2 goals in this game while Matt D’Agostini and Max Pacioretty each picked up an assist in their first game back with Hamilton. Additional scoring was provided by Greg Stewart, Grant Stevenson, and Andrew Conboy. The other assists were credited to P.K. Subban, Mike Glumac, Tom Pyatt, Shawn Belle (2), Ryan Russell, and David Desharnais.
One night later, January 28th, the Bulldogs made their way to Milwaukee to take on the Admirals, in the third of four matchups between the Western Conference rivals this season. Curtis Sanford got the start once again between the pipes and the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens defeated the affiliate of the Nashville Predators 4-1. Defenceman, Frederic St.Denis would score two goals to contribute to the victory.
After a day off, the Bulldogs returned to Chicago to face former bench-bosses Don Lever and Ron Wilson, as well as veteran NHL defenceman, Chris Chelios, in the third of four games between Hamilton and Chicago this season. In their last meeting, back on January 6th, the Bulldogs defeated the Wolves 3-1. The Chicago Wolves (affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers) have been hot as of late, going 9-1-0-0 in their last ten games but the Bulldogs hold the upper edge as they have an all-time record of 11-7-0-2-0 vs the Wolves.
This game was played in front of over 15,000 Chicago hockey fans. Unfortunately for those fans, they had to watch their hometown Wolves fall to the Bulldogs 3-2 in a shootout. Scoring for the Hamilton Bulldogs was Andre Benoit and Ryan Russell. Shawn Belle scored the game-winning goal in the shootout, helping goaltender Cedrick Desjardins move past Jaroslav Halak and into 3rd place for all-time wins by a Bulldogs goalie with his 39th.
The Bulldogs wrapped up their mid-west road trip with another game against Milwaukee, defeating the hometown Admirals once again, this time by a score of 3-2. Scoring for Hamilton was Brock Trotter (2) and Max Pacioretty.
And in goal, The Sandman picked up another win.