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This past week, the Hamilton Bulldogs continued their seemingly new-found pattern of winning only one game out of three, just as they have done for the last several weeks now. Despite this, they have somehow managed to maintain their hold on first place in the North Division with a record of 27-15-1-4 and 59 points, one single point more than the second-place Manitoba Moose.
The first game of the week was played against those same Manitoba Moose (affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) on Wednesday January 26 at the Dog Pound at Copps Coliseum. This game was unique to say the least due to the fact that it was the Bulldogs first-ever “School Day Game” with a start time of 10:30 am and was attended by over 10,000 kids from schools in the Hamilton area. The endless screaming and noise by the children throughout the entire length of the game must have traumatized the Moose players, who were unable to score any goals. Curtis Sanford turned aside 31 Manitoba shots to record his league-leading 5th shutout of the season, while Dustin Boyd provided all of the Bulldogs scoring, netting a hat-trick, as Hamilton defeated the Moose by a final score of 3-0. Alexander Avtsin assisted on two of the goals; Mathieu Carle on one.
The second and third games of the week were a home and home series against the Lake Erie Monsters (affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche). The first of the two games was played at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton on Thursday January 27. The deafening noise levels that had been exhibited in the School Game were absent in this one (as were the 10,000 kids) much to the delight of the Bulldogs Season Ticket Holders who wish to keep their hearing intact for many years to come. Instead of needing hearing aids, those in attendance were treated to a spectacular goaltending duel between Curtis Sanford and the Monsters' starting goaltender, NHL veteran John Grahame. Unfortunately for Sanford, Grahame and the Monsters would win by a final score of 2-1. Gabriel Dumont registered the only goal for Hamilton when he blasted a rocket of a shot from the blue line which deflected into the net off the post in the 2nd period. Dumont’s goal was assisted by Dany Masse and Hunter Bishop.
The third game of the week, and the second of the home and home series vs Lake Erie, took place on Saturday January 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. After the Monsters took a 1-0 lead in the 1st period, Aaron Palushaj (assisted by Ben Maxwell and Brett Festerling) tied up the score in the 2nd period. But in the final frame, Lake Erie popped three goals behind Curtis Sanford and the Bulldogs lost by a score of 4-1.
With the AHL now on its All-Star Game break, the Bulldogs get a well-deserved rest, as they now do not play again until this coming Friday and Saturday when they take on the Grand Rapids Griffins (affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) and the Adirondack Phantoms (affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers).