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Facing a team consisting primarily of the
defending champions for the previous season is no easy task for any team. 
As the Bulldogs learned this past week, doing so with one of the AHL’s
youngest squads is even tougher; they only managed a single goal in a pair of
games vs Syracuse.  In Wheeling, the Nailers were able to score a few goals
but couldn’t manage a win and now find themselves on a five game losing streak. 
Despite the early struggles, there have been a few positives in the season so
far, my Final Thought looks at one of them.

The Dog
Pound

Hamilton got a first hand lesson in terms of
what they need to stride for to be the best as they were dominated by Syracuse
in both losses.

News and
Notes:

- Blake Geoffrion suffered a depressed skull
fracture in Friday’s contest.  He had surgery shortly thereafter and was
released from the intensive care unit sometime on Sunday.  Suffice it to
say, he’s out indefinitely.

- Friday’s game in Montreal had a crowd of
18,582, the largest indoor crowd in Bulldogs history.  (Their highest ever
attendance came in the outdoor game vs the Marlies last season.)

- Joe Stejskal was recalled from Wheeling (ECHL)
to take the roster spot of Greg Pateryn (elbow) who is out indefinitely.

- If you haven’t seen already, we posted our Q
& A with Derek Wills recently.  Click to read
Part 1 or
Part 2.

- Lines from the most recent game:

Forwards:

Holland – Bournival – Gallagher
Quailer – Geoffrion – Blunden
Dumont – Nattinen – Boyce
Palushaj – Berger – Stortini

Defence:

Beaulieu – St. Denis
Tinordi – Ellis
Nash – Corbin

Results:

November 7:

Syracuse 3, Hamilton 0

November 9:

Syracuse 4, Hamilton 1

StatPack:

With the Bulldogs managing just
one goal, there are an awful lot of zeros and negatives in the stats this time around.

SKATERS


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
3 Antoine Corbin 2 0 0 +1 5 2
4 Brendon Nash 2 0 0 E 1 0
5 Jarred Tinordi 2 0 0 -3 3 5
8 Nathan Beaulieu 2 0 0 -4 0 4
11 Alain Berger 2 0 0 -2 3 2
12 Zack Stortini 2 0 0 -2 1 0
13 Steve Quailer 2 1 0 +1 4 2
14 Michael Blunden 2 0 0 -1 0 5
17 Brendan Gallagher 2 0 0 -3 7 2
18 Michael Bournival 2 0 0 -4 1 0
23 Joonas Nattinen 2 0 1 -1 2 0
28 Aaron Palushaj 2 0 0 -1 3 0
32 Frederic St-Denis 2 0 0 -3 2 0
37 Patrick Holland 2 0 0 -3 0 2
40 Gabriel Dumont 2 0 1 -2 1 2
44 Morgan Ellis 2 0 0 -3 2 0
47 Darryl Boyce 2 0 0 -1 1 0
57 Blake Geoffrion 2 0 0 E 1 0

GOALIES


#

Player

Record

SV%

GAA
29 Robert Mayer 0-2-0 .905 3.02

Scoring
Leaders:

Goals: Blake Geoffrion
(4)
Assists: Patrick Holland (4)
Points: Gallagher/Geoffrion (6)
+/-: Nash/St-Denis (+3)
PIMS: Michael Blunden (24)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (37)

Schedule:

November 14:
Rochester vs Hamilton
November 16: Toronto vs Hamilton
November 17: Hamilton vs Toronto

The
Farm’s Farm

Goaltending was a concern for the Nailers as
they allowed at least four goals in each of their three losses (which put them
second last in the Eastern Conference).  With Cedrick Desjardins
potentially returning in the next game or two for Hamilton, perhaps Peter Delmas
will be sent down to help there.

Here is how the Wheeling players contracted to Montreal
or Hamilton fared:


#

Player

GP

G

A

+/-

SH

PIMS
3 Stefan Chaput 3 1 2 E 4 2
21 Ian Schultz 3 0 1 -2 2 6
25 Phillipe Lefebvre 3 2 2 +1 8 4
27 Daultan Leveille 2 0 0 -1 1 0

- Chaput is the team leader in shots with 34 on
the season.  Lefebvre (+3) is the team leader in +/-.

Schedule:


November 17: Wheeling vs Toledo

Final
Thought

Going into the start of the regular season,
there were a few prospects that I figured were in make or break seasons in terms
of getting a new deal for next year.  In particular, Brendon Nash, Ian
Schultz, and Robert Mayer were the ‘bubble players’ I wanted to keep an early
eye on – Nash coming off of missing an entire year, Schultz for coming to camp
out of shape and being demoted, and Mayer for his subpar play at the AHL level
the past two years.  Six weeks ago, I’d have written off only one – Mayer. 
So far into the year though, Mayer has played quite well while the others have
both spent time as healthy scratches early on.

Before anyone gets too excited, I’m not
prepared to completely change my opinion of Mayer – he has had strong stretches
in the past before reverting to his previous form.  What does encourage me
this season is the lack of soft goals allowed, something that has plagued him in
the past.  That isn’t to say he hasn’t allowed some so far this year, but
it’s not on a consistent game-to-game basis as we’ve come to expect from the
Czech-born netminder.  I can’t help but wonder if having more of a
full-time goalie coach (Vincent Riendeau isn’t a full-time coach, but he’s
around more often than goalie consultants in previous seasons) has really helped
Mayer in the game-to-game preparation.  It’s still early, but his
performance so far is certainly encouraging and one of the positives through the
first month of the season.

If you have any questions/comments, please feel
free to drop me a line at [email protected]