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The Hamilton Bulldogs have jumped out to a quick 2-0 series lead vs the Oklahoma City Barons in the 1st round of the 2011 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.
In the first game, on Thursday April 14th at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, the Dogs defeated the Barons (affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers) by a final score of 5-2.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring at 1:38 of the first period with a powerplay goal. Kyle Klubertanz fired a shot on net that was tipped by Dustin Boyd. Oklahoma City starting goaltender Jeff Deslauriers made the save but Nigel Dawes grabbed the loose rebound and fired it past the netminder. The Dogs took a 2-0 lead at 9:43. Andrew Conboy deked past a Barons defender before snapping a shot on net. The rebound bounced out to Olivier Fortier, who fired it past a diving Deslauriers. Ryan Russell gave Hamilton a 3-0 lead at 16:41. Russell received the puck from Andreas Engqvist while positioned in front of the net. Russell took the pass on his backhand before moving the puck to his forehand and firing a shot past Deslauriers.
In the second period, NHL veteran goaltender, Martin Gerber, replaced Deslauriers in goal and the Barons responded with their first goal of the game early in the period. The Bulldogs took a 4-1 lead at 13:39 of the period while on the power play. Klubertanz received a pass from Dawes before sending a cross-ice pass to Aaron Palushaj, who was positioned to the left of the net. Palushaj one-timed a shot that sailed over the shoulder of Gerber and into the net.
Hamilton added its fifth goal at 1:29 of the 3rd period on the power play. Engqvist dropped the puck to Joe Stejskal, who was stationed at the right point. Stejskal blasted a shot that sailed through traffic and past Gerber. The goal was Stejskal’s first of his professional career after joining the club last month. The Barons scored their second goal of the game at the 7:00 mark but the Dogs overpowered Oklahoma in this one to win decisively by the 5-2 final score.
Game #2 of the Series was held two days later on Saturday April 16th, once again at the Dog Pound in Hamilton. And this game would be almost a carbon copy of Game #1 in terms of the intensity of the play and the effort put into it by the Bulldogs players. The major difference this time was the final score, again in favour of the Hamilton Bulldogs, 2-1. Scoring for the Dogs was Andreas Engqvist and Nigel Dawes, assisted by Brendon Nash, J.T. Wyman, Aaron Palushaj, and Frederic St. Denis.
The best-of-seven series now moves to Oklahoma City for Games #3 and #4, and if necessary Game #5.