Those of you who grew up in the early 1980s will remember a series of action movies called “Mad Max.” The films (which were produced in Australia and launched the career of actor Mel Gibson) tell the story of Max, a desolate, hollowed-out marauder who roams the desert wastelands, struggling for survival in a post-apocalypse society.
Max Pacioretty of the Hamilton Bulldogs was not even born when those movies were released and resembles nothing of the fictional character in them. But it is the result of his play thus far in the AHL this season which has earned him the nickname of Mad Max.
Pacioretty is currently on a tear for the Bulldogs and was named the AHL Player of the Month for November by the League. Mad Max led all AHL scorers with 10 goals and added seven assists for 17 points in 13 games as the Bulldogs surged to the top of the Western Conference with a 9-3-0-1 record for the month.
His 10 goals in November surpassed his previous career high for an entire season, established when he scored nine times in 71 games between Hamilton and Montreal as a rookie in 2008-09. He began the month with back-to-back two-point nights, putting up a goal and an assist in each of a two-game sweep of Manitoba on Nov. 2 and 3. Pacioretty scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Grand Rapids on Nov. 13, and began a stretch of four consecutive multiple-point games with two assists in Rochester on Nov. 19. Pacioretty celebrated his 22nd birthday on Nov. 20 at Toronto by providing all of the Hamilton offense in a 4-3 shootout loss at Toronto, scoring all three Bulldogs goals in regulation and the team’s only tally of the shootout. He scored twice more in a 3-2 win at Adirondack on Nov. 24, and notched a goal and an assist to close out the month on Nov. 28 at Syracuse.
Following all this, it’s now time to take a look at the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-Stars of the Month. Here are my picks:
1 – Max Pacioretty (no further comment needed; see above)
2 – David Desharnais (4 Goals; 9 Assists; 13 Points)
3 – Aaron Palushaj (3 Goals; 8 Assists; 11 Points)
As for the games on the schedule, the Bulldogs hosted three different teams this past week and finished with a record of 1 win and 2 losses.
On Wednesday December 1st, the Abbotsford Heat (affiliate of the Calgary Flames) were welcomed into the Dog Pound. Max Pacioretty continued his November Player of the Month success, scoring all of the Hamilton goals during regulation time. Assists were provided by David Desharnais (2), Frederic St. Denis, and Mathieu Carle. The Heat replied with goals of their own to tie the game and send it to overtime and a shootout. Aaron Palushaj and Gabriel Dumont scored in the shootout contest for the Dogs and Hamilton won the game by a final score of 3-2.
Friday December 3rd saw the Peoria Rivermen sail their way into Hamilton for the first of two meetings this season between the Bulldogs and the affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. Andreas Engqvist scored the only goal of the game for the Baby Habs, while Peoria responded with two of their own to sink the Bulldogs by a final score of 2-1. Kyle Klubertanz and J.T. Wyman assisted on Engqvist’s goal.
And to wrap up the week’s schedule, the Chicago Wolves (affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers) attacked the Bulldogs by a final score of 2-1in an afternoon matchup on Saturday December 4th. After the first two periods of play, Chicago was leading by a score of 2-0. The Dogs finally got on the score sheet at 3:06 of the third period. The goal was scored by (guess who) “Mad Max” Pacioretty, assisted by Aaron Palushaj and David Desharnais.
Following Pacioretty’s goal, over 2,000 stuffed toys were thrown on the ice by the fans in attendance for the Bulldogs Annual Toy Toss. This is a selected game each year in the Holiday Season where fans get to throw stuffed toys on the ice following the Bulldogs first goal in that game. The toys are then collected and distributed to needy children in the Hamilton area for Christmas.