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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 that.
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 Hamilton goaltender.
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 regular rookies.
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.
- HW 3 Stars: March's Top Prospects posted by B. La Rose
- HW 3 Stars: February's Top Prospects posted by B. La Rose
- HW 3 Stars: January's Top Prospects posted by B. La Rose
- HW 3 Stars: December's Top Prospects posted by B. La Rose
- HW 3 Stars: November's Top Prospects posted by B. La Rose