The month of April was one to forget for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Not
only did they manage to win just three of ten games but as a result of that,
they finished dead last in the entire league for the first (and hopefully last)
time in franchise history. There weren’t a whole lot of positives but a
few players managed to stand out from the crowd. Those players get their
due in our April 3 Stars.
1st Star: Nathan Beaulieu – The rookie blueliner spent more
time in Montreal than he did with Hamilton but still managed to lead the team in
scoring. After a rocky start to the season, Beaulieu’s game took
considerable strides forward, culminating in some strong performances in his
April games with the Bulldogs. If he’s back in Hamilton next year (I think
he should be, at least at the start), he could be poised for a big season.
Stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, +1 rating, 14 shots, 7 PIMS
Beaulieu led the team in assists with 24 and tied with Gabriel Dumont for
the team lead in points with 31.
2nd Star: Robert Mayer – I was long advocating for him to sit
this month given that he has a contract in the Swiss league next season (as a
result, I felt Dustin Tokarski should have had the bulk of the work) but Mayer
was the top goalie by a considerable margin in April. It was a positive
end to his days with the Bulldogs; he played well enough this year to likely
earn a qualifying offer from the Habs to retain his RFA rights over the next
little while. A few months ago, I didn’t think there was any chance of
Stats: 5 GP, 2-3-0 record, 2.02 GAA, .931 SV%
Mayer set a new career high in wins this season (16) as well as GAA over a
full season (2.93). He now ranks fourth in all-time games played by a
3rd Star: Michael Bournival – Despite spending most of the
month as a second liner, Bournival was one of the few somewhat consistent point
producers throughout the month. Like Beaulieu, the start to his season was
rough but he continually improved throughout the year. He certainly earned
his late season recall to skate with the Habs in the postseason.
Stats: 10 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -4 rating, 26 SOG, 6 PIMS
Bournival tied for the team lead in goals by a rookie (10 – tied with
Patrick Holland). His -3 rating on the season was the best among all
Honourable Mention: Charles Hudon – For the majority of the
games he played, not only was he the youngest player on the Bulldogs but also
the youngest player in the league. (That changed when fellow prospect
Sebastian Collberg played in a pair of contests.) It didn’t take long for
him to make a positive impression on the coaching staff as he was thrust into a
top six role immediately and didn’t look out of place. He isn’t eligible
to play full time for Hamilton next year but nonetheless this month spent with
the team will be beneficial for him moving forward.
Stats: 9 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, -5 rating, 22 SOG, 4 PIMS
Hudon led all late-season rookie additions in shots on goal. His one
goal was also a game winner.
March marked the end of the year for most of Montreal’s unsigned prospects
but a few still saw some action. Danny Kristo, after signing a two year
deal with the Habs, played in nine games with the team, Brady Vail played seven
more games with the Bulldogs on his ATO (he played twelve in total), Olivier
Archambault was a regular with Hamilton all month, while Collberg as noted
earlier got into a couple of games in the final week.
Tim Bozon (Kamloops, WHL) returned from an upper-body injury in time to start
their third round series with Portland. He collected four points in the
five game series although they all came in Game 3. The Blazers lost the
series 4-1 which ends his season.
Two other junior prospects will return to action in May as Darren Dietz and
Dalton Thrower will be representing the host team (Saskatoon) at the Memorial
Cup. The Blades will be looking to remove at least some of the
embarrassment after being swept in the first round of the WHL playoffs despite
being the #2 seed in their conference.
As pretty much all of the prospects have concluded their respective seasons
(aside from the two Saskatoon players and Kristo who is off to play at the World
Championships), this will be the final instalment of the Prospect 3 Stars for
the 2012-13 season. The next of these articles will be in early November,
recapping the first month of the 2013-14 campaign.