The third round of the Calder Cup Finals is underway between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Houston Aeros. Unfortunately however for the Bulldogs, Houston has claimed victories in both games played so far to give them a 2-0 series lead.
The Western Conference Finals got underway on Friday May 13th on the Aeros’ home ice for Game #1. Perhaps it was the lovely warm weather in Texas, or maybe the curse of Friday the 13th, but whatever the reason, the Bulldogs came out sluggish and played like a race car with a flat tire. The Aeros took advantage of this and scored the game’s opening goal at 14:52 of the first period when Bulldogs goaltender, Drew MacIntyre, fired the puck off the glass which then deflected right to a Houston player who set up the play to score the goal.
They scored again at 2:59 into the start of the second period, and it was this goal which finally seemed to light a spark in the Bulldogs efforts. The Dogs ended up outshooting their opponent 39-28 and got on the scoreboard with only 51 seconds remaining in regulation time when Mathieu Carle broke the shutout of Aeros goaltender Matt Hackett. (If anyone is wondering…yes, Matt is the nephew of former Montreal Canadiens goalie, Jeff Hackett.) Getting assists on Carle’s goal was Nigel Dawes and Frederic St. Denis but it was too little, too late. The Houston Aeros would hang on to take the victory by a final score of 2-1.
Game #2 took place two days later on Sunday May 15th, once again in Houston. And once again, the home team would defeat the Bulldogs this time by a 3-2 score. Following a scoreless first period, the Aeros took a 1-0 lead at 3:16 of the second frame. The Bulldogs tied the score 1-1 at 14:03 and Houston then surged ahead with two quick goals, one at the end of the second period and the other at the start of the third. Hamilton clawed back with another goal half way through the final period but again the Aeros held on to preserve the win. Scoring for the Bulldogs was Gabriel Dumont and Ryan Russell.
The series now comes back to Hamilton for Games #3 (Editor’s Note: the Bulldogs lost their home opener 3-2 on Tuesday night, going down 0-3 in the series), #4, and #5 if necessary on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.