Did you ever watch Mr. Spock on the old “Star Trek” television show? Remember how he would raise his eyebrow in a quizzical manner whenever something illogical happened? That’s what the Texas Stars are doing right now, after the Hamilton Bulldogs jumped out to a quick and decisive 2-0 lead between the two teams in the AHL Western Conference Finals.
In Game #1, on Friday May 14, at the Dog Pound at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, the Bulldogs defeated the Stars in overtime by a final score of 3-2.
The Bulldogs opened the game’s scoring at 3:22 of the first period while on the power play. Mike Glumac received the puck from Andre Benoit before firing a shot on net. Texas starting goaltender Matt Climie could not control the rebound, which David Desharnais scooped up and deposited in the back of the net.
The Stars tied the game with a power-play goal of their own at 11:01.
Brock Trotter gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead at 15:23. Aaron Palushaj sent a pass to Desharnais, who was stationed in the slot. Desharnais released a shot on net that Trotter tipped past Climie and into the net.
Texas scored at 18:15 of the second period, once again while on the power play to tie the game up at 2-2. Former-Bulldogs player, Dan Jancevski, fed a pass across the ice to Jamie Benn, who was located at the right faceoff circle. Benn one-timed a shot past the glove of Sanford and into the back of the net.
The 3rd period was a scoreless 20 minutes of hockey and the game was forced to go into overtime. Back in the 2003 Calder Cup Finals vs the Houston Aeros, the Hamilton Bulldogs played an overtime game which went four overtimes (which at that time was the longest game in American Hockey League history) and ended at close to 2:00am in the morning. The Dogs, and those of us who were in attendance, did not wish for a repeat of that four-overtime marathon, and our wishes were granted very quickly when Brock Trotter scored only 14 seconds into the extra period (assisted by David Desharnais and Ryan Russell) to give the Bulldogs the win and a 1-0 lead in the series vs Texas.
Game #2 took place on Sunday May 16 in an afternoon puck drop at the Dog Pound.
After a scoreless first period, the Bulldogs opened the scoring 28 seconds into the second period while on the power play. Brock Trotter received a pass from David Desharnais before dishing the puck across the ice to Ryan Russell. Russell blasted a one-time shot into the back of the Stars net.
The Dogs added their second goal at 4:52 when Alex Henry scored, assisted by Trotter to give Hamilton a 2-0 lead. The Stars got on the scoreboard at 17:40. Andrew Hutchinson passed the puck to Warren Peters, who was positioned behind the net. Peters sent the puck to the front of the net, where it bounced off the leg of a Bulldogs defender and past Hamilton starting goaltender Curtis Sanford.
The Bulldogs regained a two-goal lead at 10:59 of the 3rd period when Grant Stevenson and Mike Glumac skated into the Bulldogs zone on a two-on-one, where Stevenson passed the puck over to Glumac, who scored to give Hamilton a 3-1 win and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
The series now heads off to Austin, Texas for Game # 3 and 4, and Game 5 if necessary.