This week, all the talk about the Hamilton Bulldogs has been about the trading away of Ben Maxwell and the acquisition of Nigel Dawes. Maxwell left Hamilton as the team’s leading point scorer at the time with 11 goals, 29 assists, and 40 points. In return, Dawes comes to the Bulldogs ranked 3rd overall in the American Hockey League in goals. He was also the leading scorer on his former team, the Chicago Wolves (affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers) with 27 goals, 17 assists, and 44 points at the time of the trade.
In the short few days which have passed since joining the Hamilton lineup, Dawes has wasted little time in elevating his status. In his first three games wearing a Bulldogs jersey he has scored three goals, which now currently gives him 30 goals on the season and puts him into 2nd place in the AHL scoring leader stats.
And how ironic is it that his very first game played as a member of the Montreal Canadiens organization was to take place at the Bell Centre for a “neutral site” game between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Adirondack Phantoms (affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). It’s also interesting to note that Nigel Dawes would wear #19 with the Bulldogs….that being Ben Maxwell’s number.
Further, it’s even more interesting and ironic that Dawes would score the opening goal of the game, in this, his first game as a Bulldog on Friday February 25th. That goal was assisted by Andreas Engqvist and Mathieu Carle. Additional scoring was by J.T. Wyman and by Aaron Palushaj (who had two goals). Additional assists went to Andrew Conboy, Danny Masse, Dustin Boyd, Frederic St. Denis, and Olivier Fortier (2). When all was said and done, the Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Phantoms by a final score of 4-1 in front of 14,809 fans at Bell Centre.
In what was a busy weekend schedule for them, the Bulldogs left Quebec and travelled to the State of New York for a matchup against the Syracuse Crunch (affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks) the following night on Saturday February 26th. Nigel Dawes scored the game-winning goal, his second as a Hamilton Bulldogs player, and extended his personal goal scoring streak to six games as the Dogs crunched the Crunch by a final score of 3-2. The other goals were scored by Brendon Nash and Kyle Klubertanz, assisted by Dustin Boyd, Olivier Fortier, Andreas Engqvist and Alex Henry.
Curtis Sanford started the game in Syracuse but was injured somewhere along the way in the first period and was replaced by Robert Mayer at the beginning of the 2nd period. Mayer stopped 29 out of 30 shots to help the Bulldogs get the win.
The Hamilton Bulldogs returned home to their Dog Pound home at Copps Coliseum the following day for an afternoon game vs the Grand Rapids Griffins (affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) on Sunday February 27th. Nigel Dawes would once again score the opening the goal of the game in a losing effort as the Griffs beat the Dogs 5-2. With Sanford injured, Robert Mayer received the start in goal with Peter Delmas, recalled from Wheeling in the ECHL, to serve as backup.
Mayer has been under some heavy criticism this hockey season for his poor play between the pipes when he has been given the opportunity to get into a game, so it’s not really surprising that Montreal acquired goaltender Drew MacIntyre at the NHLTrade Deadline in exchange for Brett Festerling.
Now the question remains, did the Habs trade for MacIntyre, a proven goaltender with 240 AHL games on his resume, because Sanford’s injury is more severe than has been revealed, or is it because the Montreal Canadiens and the Hamilton Bulldogs have finally given up on Robert Mayer?
That question is still to be answered at this time. Stay tuned.