The Hamilton Bulldogs have 16 games remaining to be played on their 2009-2010 schedule as they chase down a spot for the upcoming Calder Cup playoffs. The only AHL team who has clinched a playoff spot so far is the League-leading Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference, who currently sit at the top of the standings with 100 points. But the Bulldogs, with 92 points, are nipping at their heels.
As the Dogs continue to surge ahead and maintain their hold on 1st place in the Western Conference, the threat to their position comes not from in front but from behind. If the Bulldogs take a moment and glance in the rear-view mirror, they will see the hard-charging Chicago Wolves breathing down their necks with 88 points. And to make things interesting, the Bulldogs and the Wolves faced off in a match this past week.
But more on this in a moment, for now it’s time once again to take a look back at the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-Stars of the Month for February.
Here are my picks:
1 – David Desharnais (5 goals, 7 assists, selected as one of the 3-Stars of the game three times.)
2 – Tom Pyatt (5 goals, 6 assists, selected as one of the 3-Stars of the game three times).
3 – Brock Trotter (4 goals, 7 assists, selected as one of the 3-Stars of the game twice, and voted as the Hardest Working Bulldogs player in a game.)
And the Hamilton Bulldogs Goaltender of the Month goes to Curtis Sanford (7 games played, 5 wins, 1 loss, 1 shootout loss, 1 shutout, and selected as one of the 3-Stars of the game two times.)
To begin their schedule this past week, the Bulldogs welcomed the Adirondack Phantoms into the Dog Pound on Wednesday March 3rd for the third of four meetings this season between the two hockey clubs. In the previous two games this season, Hamilton outscored Adirondack by a total of 9-0 to take a 2-0-0-0 lead in the series. In their last meeting on February 21st, the Bulldogs defeated the Phantoms 5-0 in front of over 15,500 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
When this one was all wrapped up and done, the Bulldogs emerged with another win as they defeated the Phantoms once again, this time by a final score of 4-1. J.T. Wyman scored three goals for a hat-trick, while Ryan Russell netted the fourth goal and assisted on Wyman’s second goal. The other assists were by P.K. Subban, Ryan White, Frederic St. Denis, Ben Maxwell, Max Pacioretty, and David Desharnais. Cedrick Desjardins stopped 25 shots to get the win.
Next comes the game which I had mentioned earlier. On Friday March 5th, the Chicago Wolves howled into Hamilton, led by NHL player, Chris Chelios, and former Bulldogs coaches Don Lever and Ron Wilson. This game was the fourth and final matchup this season between the Western Conference rivals until they possibly meet up again in the playoffs. And many Bulldogs fans believe that these two teams WILL meet in the playoffs. But before the Dogs can win the war, they first need to win the battle. And that they certainly did.
Hamilton managed to defeat Chicago by a final score of 5-4 in a shootout to capture the season series with a 4-0-0-0 record. The win was the Bulldogs seventh consecutive victory and P.K. Subban and Andre Benoit both set franchise records in the win.
Scoring for the Bulldogs was Ryan Russell, J.T. Wyman, and Mike Glumac who had a pair of goals. Subban assisted on Wyman’s goal, giving P.K. his 45th point of the season. This sets a new franchise record for points by a Bulldogs defenceman in a single season. He surpasses the previous mark of 44 which was held by Yannick Weber (2008-2009) and Sven Butenschon (2001-2002). Andre Benoit assisted on Glumac’s first goal of the game, giving him his 86th point as a Bulldog which makes him the all-time leader in points by a Bulldogs defenceman passing the total of 85 which was held by Dan Jancevski.
And to close out their three-game schedule for the week, the Dogs hosted another pack of Wolves the following night on Saturday March 6th. This time it was the Hartford Wolf Pack, who came into this matchup with an impressive lineup of players including NHL tough-guy Donald Brashear, Anders Eriksson, and former Bulldogs player Corey Locke, who leads Hartford in scoring with 24 goals and 44 assists for 68 points.
The Dogs opened the scoring 36 seconds into the game compliments of a goal by Ryan White, assisted by Aaron Palushaj and Max Pacioretty. The Bulldogs then took a 2-0 lead only 4 minutes and 7 seconds later. Mike Glumac grabbed a loose puck in front of the Wolf Pack’s net before firing a shot that bounced off the crossbar and onto the stick of Grant Stevenson, who shovelled the puck into the net.
Corey Locke would assist on Hartford’s first goal at 18:41 of the 2nd period and the momentum created was enough for the Wolf Pack to tie the game at 2-2 only 19 seconds later.
After a scoreless third period and a five-minute overtime, the game was decided in a shootout. P.K. Subban and Brock Trotter scored for Hamilton while Cedrick Desjardins stopped all shooters for Hartford to secure a 3-2 shootout win for the Bulldogs.
With the win, the Dogs are now on a season-high eight game winning streak. It was also the Bulldogs second consecutive shootout victory.
The Hamilton Bulldogs continue to hold 1st place in the North Division; 1st place in the Western Conference; and 2nd place overall in the American Hockey League with a 42-14-3-5 record and 92 points.