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The Hamilton Bulldogs are currently in the middle of a week-long Western road trip which has them playing games, their last ones before the Christmas Break, against four of their AHL Western Conference rivals.
Things got underway on Tuesday December 14th when the Houston Aeros (affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) visited the Dog Pound at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton for the first of two meetings this season between the Bulldogs and Aeros. This was the last home game for the Dogs before the above-mentioned Christmas Break and would serve as a warm-up leading into the road trip.
Last season, Houston went 2-0 vs the Bulldogs, winning both games by one goal (4-3 in a shootout, and 1-0). In all-time regular season meetings, the Aeros held the upper hand with a 7-3-0-0 record heading into this one. Unfortunately for Hamilton, this latest game would only increase Houston’s record as they defeated the Dogs once again, this time by a final score of 3-1. The lone Hamilton goal was scored by Alexander Avtsin, assisted by Andreas Engqvist and Frederic St. Denis.
There were a couple of interesting notes to this game, the first being that Houston Aeros goalie, Matt Hackett, is the nephew of former Montreal Canadiens goalie, Jeff Hackett. The second interesting note was the fact that it was the sight of the Peoria Rivermen's (affiliate of the St. Louis Blues) team bus and the equipment trailer which is towed behind it that was parked outside Copps Coliseum for this game, had many Bulldogs fans scratching their heads in puzzlement and checking to make sure that they had brought the correct tickets for the game that night. Yes, the tickets said Houston Aeros. The schedule said Houston Aeros. It turns out that because of the record-breaking winter storm which slammed South-Western Ontario recently, closing highways and even the Border between Canada and the United States at one point, the Rivermen apparently had to abandon their bus in Hamilton and fly home from their road trip which they were on.
Following this, the Bulldogs boarded an airplane of their own and began their Western road trip, with their first stop being in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for a game vs the Barons (affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers) on Friday December 17th. Hamilton defeated the Barons by a final score of 3-0 thanks to the scoring efforts of Ben Maxwell who returned to the lineup, David Desharnais, and Dustin Boyd (his first game as a Hamilton Bulldogs player). Assists were provided by Aaron Palushaj, Brendon Nash, and Desharnais once again. Goalie Curtis Sanford picked up his first full shutout of the season with the win, having shared one with Robert Mayer earlier in the season.
Boyd continued his early success with the Dogs the following night, scoring two more goals vs the Texas Stars (affiliate of the Dallas Stars) in a 3-2 Hamilton victory in Overtime. His scoring streak would continue yet again the following afternoon, on Sunday December 19th, when the Bulldogs were welcomed in San Antonio, Texas, by the Rampage (affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes). Along with Boyd, the Bulldogs offence was provided by Andrew Conboy (who scored 2 goals in the game), and Andreas Engqvist. Assists were by Gabriel Dumont (3), Ben Maxwell, and David Desharnais, but it was not enough as the Rampage would go on to defeat Hamilton by a final score of 5-4. Robert Mayer picked up the loss for the Dogs while stopping 33 out of 38 shots.
The Bulldogs road trip continues when they face the Houston Aeros once again on Tuesday December 21st in Houston, Texas, their final game before the Christmas break.