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The Hamilton Bulldogs have eliminated the Oklahoma City Barons in 6 games, winning their North Division Semi-Final series four games to two, and now advance to the second round in the AHL 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs.
When we last looked at the Barons vs Bulldogs in last week’s Recap, Hamilton had jumped out to a 2-0 series lead at home. The series then shifted to Oklahoma City for Games #3, #4, and #5.
In Game 3 on April 19th, Colin McDonald scored for the Barons, breaking a scoreless tie with 11:22 remaining in the third period. Oklahoma’s leading scorer, Alexandre Giroux, added the Barons’ other goal 15:59 into the period, and goaltender Martin Gerber made 26 saves as the Barons earned their first win in the series, defeating the Bulldogs by a final shutout score of 2-0. Drew MacIntyre made 44 saves for Hamilton in this losing effort.
The following night, for Game 4, Oklahoma City squared the series at two games each, downing the Bulldogs once again, this time by a final score of 5-2. Scoring for the Dogs were Ian Schultz and Paul Zanette. Assists were provided by Nigel Dawes, Dustin Boyd, Jimmy Bonneau, and Alexander Avtsin.
In Game 5 on April 22nd, Aaron Palushaj scored in the first period and Nigel Dawes added an insurance marker in the second as Drew MacIntyre earned a 20-save shutout and Hamilton took a 3-2 series lead, winning the game 2-0. This game also marked the first win by the visiting road team during the series. This Hamilton win also snapped Oklahoma’s 4-game home winning streak dating back to the regular season, a stretch where the Barons had 3 shutouts and outscored the opposition 16-2.
With the Bulldogs now holding the Barons by the throat in a death-grip, the best-of-7 Calder Cup playoff series returned to Hamilton for Game 6 on April 24th. The 2,684 fans in attendance who were missing Easter dinner with their families were treated to an exciting wrap-up of the series as the Dogs dispatched the Barons by a final score of 4-1 and advanced to the North Division Finals. Nigel Dawes scored a pair of goals while Frederic St. Denis and J.T. Wyman netted one goal each. Aaron Palushaj assisted on three of the markers; the other assists being provided by Dustin Boyd, Mathieu Carle, and Alex Henry.
Round 2 gets underway this Thursday at the Dog Pound in Hamilton, but at the moment, the Bulldogs opponent is still yet to be determined as the Manitoba Moose and the Lake Erie Monsters will square off in Game 7 of their series. Regardless of which one of those teams will emerge victorious, they will be facing off against your Hamilton Bulldogs in the Division Finals and it’s guaranteed to be a great series.