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A month ago, it was crazy to even entertain the notion that the Hamilton Bulldogs had any sort of shot at making the AHL playoffs, but as we head into the final week of the season, they need just 1 point in their final 2 games to clinch.  The week got off to a disappointing start, as on Wednesday, Hamilton blew a 3rd period lead to Milwaukee and wound up losing in a shootout by a 4-3 count.  They did get their revenge on Friday however, by making a 3rd period comeback, defeating the Admirals 5-3.  Then came the weekend series in Manitoba, where many believed would be the make or break part of their season.  They made it, winning both games by 4-1 scores, giving them 7 of a possible 8 points this past week.

Ellis tests out NHL prototype equipment:

Just over a week ago, the NHL came to Hamilton.  Well, not for long though, as they weren’t looking for places to ice replacement players (or another round of expansion), but to gather some information to be used at their upcoming GM meetings.  Cue Dallas prospect and Bulldogs backup Dan Ellis, who took in practice using the shrunken goaltender equipment fans and players alike have been clamoring for.  His response after?  Not something that many wanted to hear.  Ellis claimed that he found he could move quicker and react better, saying, “You better be careful – you might make us better.” 

AHL hands out some awards:

This week, the AHL began handing out some of the regular season honours, despite the fact the season isn’t yet over.  The first series of acknowledgements were for the “Man of the Year,” where the league names a player from each team who does charitable work behind the scenes in the community.  For the 2nd straight season, the Hamilton award went to W Duncan Milroy.

Then came the AHL All-Rookie team, where a couple of Bulldogs had a shot at being recognized.  Although some consideration was given to both Yann Danis and Corey Locke, neither made the team.  The same can also be said for the AHL 1st and 2nd All-Star teams.

Back just in time:

After missing well over a month with a knee injury, Phillipe Plante finally returned to the lineup on Friday.  With Dan Focht out for the season, Hamilton’s defence corps is as healthy as it’s going to get, and this comes at about as good a time there is.

Shootout Stats:

Hamilton played in their 8th shootout of the season, and fell 2-1 to Milwaukee, a team they had beaten in this aspect earlier in the season.  Below are this week’s, and the overall season shootout statistics:

Weekly Results Season Results
Tomas Plekanec 1/2 (50%)
Chris Higgins 0/1 (0%)
Gavin Morgan 0/1 (0%)
Corey Locke 0/2 (0%)
Andrei Kostitsyn 0/2 (0%)
Weekly Total: 1/7 (14%)

Season Totals: 11/45 (24%)

Shootout Record: 2-6
James Sanford 3/3 (100%)
Andrei Kostitsyn 3/7 (43%)
Gavin Morgan 1/3 (33%)
Tomas Plekanec 2/10 (20%)
Corey Locke 2/10 (20%)
Jason Ward 0/1 (0%)
Steve Ott 0/1 (0%)
Marc-Andre Thinel 0/2 (0%)
Duncan Milroy 0/4 (0%)
Chris Higgins 0/5 (0%)

By the Numbers:

Steve Begin has been a big reason why Hamilton finds themselves so close to the postseason.  Not only does he have an impressive 13 points in 20 games (10-3-13), the Bulldogs are 13-5-1-1 since his return, meaning that he is contributing in more than 1 way.  Despite getting the monkey off his back last week, Corey Locke continues to have difficulties scoring, notching just 1 goal in his last 23 games.  Begin’s 10 goals in 20 games is the highest goals-per-game average on the Bulldogs this season (50%), Chris Higgins is second with 27 in 74 (36%).

Goalie Zone:

At one point it was the big weakness Hamilton had this season, but lately, goaltending has been their strength.  Yann Danis again won 2 of 3 games, giving him 7 wins in his last 11 starts.  Weekly Stats: 2-1 record, 2.27 GAA, .920 SV%.  Meanwhile, for the second straight week, Dan Ellis got a start, and again played quite well, allowing just 1 goal for the second straight game.  Weekly Stats: 1-0 record, 1.00 GAA, .969 SV%.



35Yann Danis522717652.33.924
30Dan Ellis291018012.69.910

The Infirmary:

D Dan Focht (shoulder), out for the season
C Steve Ott (ankle), day-to-day

Playoff Push:

With just a week left in the season, Hamilton’s magic number is 1 (point).  If the Bulldogs secure a single point in their remaining 2 games, or if Syracuse fails to secure all 8 points this week, Hamilton clinches.  However, if Syracuse wins all 4 games, they’re in, as they’d have 1 more win than the Bulldogs.  Edmonton and Cleveland have been mathematically eliminated.  Now, the standings:

Y-Rochester 75 49 16 4 6 108
X-Manitoba 76 41 25 3 7 92
X-St. John’s 76 43 28 1 4 91
Hamilton 78 37 28 7 6 87
Syracuse 76 34 31 7 4 79
^-Edmonton 76 31 31 4 10 76
^-Cleveland 76 33 35 2 6 74

Teams highlighted in blue are in the playoffs, teams in grey are out as of April 10, 2005.  Teams indicated by ‘X‘ have clinched a playoff berth, teams indicated by ‘^‘ are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.  Rochester ‘Y‘, has clinched the division title.

Schedule Analysis:

Replacing the spotlight stat, from here on in, we’ll look directly at the schedule for the 2 remaining teams contending for the final playoff spot.  Here is this week’s important schedule:


Apr. 13 vs Syracuse
Apr. 15 vs Rochester
Total: 1 home, 1 away
Need 1 point to clinch playoffs

Apr. 13 @ Hamilton
Apr. 15 vs Binghamton
Apr. 16 @ Rochester
Apr. 17 @ Wilkes-Barre Scranton
Total: 1 home, 3 away

The Weekly Bulldogs Stat Pack:

Game Results:

April 6: Milwaukee 4, Hamilton 3 (SO)  Scoresheet
April 8: Hamilton 5, Milwaukee 3  Scoresheet
April 9: Hamilton 4, Manitoba 1  Scoresheet

April 10: Hamilton 4, Manitoba 1  Scoresheet

Week Record: 3-0-0-1
Season Record: 37-28-7-6, 87 points (4th in division, tied for 8th in conference, current playoff matchup: Rochester)

Team Scoring Leaders:

Weekly Scoring Leaders Season Scoring Leaders

Steve Begin (3)
Marc-Andre Thinel (3)
Duncan Milroy (2)
1 other with 2

Dan Jancevski (5)
Jason Ward (4)
Andrei Kostitsyn (2)
4 others with 2

Dan Jancevski (5)
Jason Ward (5)
Steve Begin (4)
1 other with 4

Chris Higgins (27)
Tomas Plekanec (27)
Jason Ward (20)

Tomas Plekanec (33)
Jason Ward (32)
Corey Locke (27)

Tomas Plekanec (60)
Jason Ward (52)
Chris Higgins (49)

Weekly Scoring Summary:

1) Milroy (Thinel, Morgan)
2) Miettinen (Cote, Archer) PP
3) Plekanec (Ward)
4) Thinel (Jancevski, Morgan)
5) Thinel (unassisted)
6) Begin (Ward, Jancevski)
7) Plekanec (Miettinen, Higgins) GWG
8) Ward (unassisted) EN
9) Ferland (Locke)
10) Milroy (Jancevski, Locke) GWG
11) Begin (Kostitsyn, Ward)
12) Morgan (Begin, Ward) EN
13) Begin (Kostitsyn, Jancevski)
14) Thinel (Milroy, Archer) GWG
15) Daley (Miettinen, Jancevski) PP
16) Komisarek (Hainsey) PP

Special Teams:

This Week:
Powerplay: 3/18 (16.7%)
Penalty Kill: 15/18 (83.3%)

This Season:
Powerplay: 63/419 (15%)
Penalty Kill: 317/373 (85%)

Upcoming Schedule:

April 13: Syracuse vs Hamilton
April 15: Rochester vs Hamilton

Long Beach Ice Dogs  ECHL Report:

Week’s Long Beach Transactions:

Apr. 1: Sign C Matt Noga

Weekly Results:

April 8: Long Beach 3 Fresno 1
April 9: Long Beach 4, Gwinnett 1

The regular season ended on a high note for Long Beach, winning their last 5 games heading into their best-of-5 first round playoff matchup vs Idaho.  Evan Cheverie was the Ice Dogs top scorer, while Hamilton cut Marco Rosa was 2nd.  Cory Urquhart was the best Montreal prospect, finishing 6th in team scoring.  Matt Shasby, also a Canadiens prospect was the team’s highest scoring defenceman, despite playing in just 40 games. 

Player Reports:

C-Christian Larrivee (Long Beach) This Week:  2 GP, 0 pts, -2  Season:  53 GP, 9-20-29, +2, 18 PIMS
C-Cory Urquhart (Long Beach) This Week:  2 GP, 2 A, -1,  Season:  63 GP, 16-15-31, +1, 14 PIMS
G-Olivier Michaud (Long Beach) This Week: 1 GP, win  Season:  18-14-4-2 record, 2.54 GAA, .918 SV%
D-Matt Shasby (Long Beach) This Week:  2 GP, 1 G, 4 PIMS  Season: 40 GP, 4-18-22, +18, 52 PIMS
W-Michael Lambert (Long Beach) This Week:  2 GP, 1 G, 1 A, +2  Season: 18 GP, 5-4-9, -3, 26 PIMS
D-James Sanford (Peoria) Last 2 Weeks:  7 GP, 2 A, E, 2 PIMS  Season:  24 GP, 2-9-11, -7, 16 PIMS

First Round Schedule:

Series D
West Division Semifinals
3 Idaho (42-23-7) vs. # 2 Long Beach (43-20-9)

April 13: Idaho at Long Beach
April 15: Idaho at Long Beach
April 16: Long Beach at Idaho
*April 17: Long Beach at Idaho
*April 20: Idaho at Long Beach

* = if necessary

Bulldogs Player of the Week:

Each week, one Hamilton player will be selected as the HabsWorld Player of the Week.  At the end of each month, you the fans will be able to vote on the Player of the Month.  A different player will be nominated each week.

This week’s top player is W Jason Ward, who tied for the team lead in scoring this week with 5 points.  In recent weeks, he has stepped up his game like team veterans and leaders should.

April Weekly Winners:
March 28-April 3:
G Yann Danis
April 4-April 10: W Jason Ward

Past Monthly Winners (as previously selected:)
G Yann Danis
November: C Tomas Plekanec
December: C Corey Locke
January: W Jason Ward
February: G Yann Danis
D Ron Hainsey