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Before you knew it, it was all over.  Despite an amazing run to get into the playoffs, the Hamilton Bulldogs were unable to find a way to defeat the Rochester Americans, and were swept 4-0 by the regular season champions.  This is only the first time in franchise history that the Bulldogs have lost in the first round out of 8 tries.  However, the streak of consecutive series losses vs the Americans grows to 4, and the number of straight playoff losses vs Rochester grows to a whopping 9.

Game 4: Rochester 5, Hamilton 4:

This time, the Americans jumped to the early lead, and it was up to Hamilton to spoil it, which they did, recovering from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 3rd period lead.  From there, it was the story of the series, as Rochester scored a trio of goals, and never looked back, holding on for the 5-4 winning, advancing to the 2nd round.

Shots: 35-32 Rochester
Powerplay: Hamilton (1/5), Rochester (2/5)
3 Stars: 1) Chris Taylor (ROC), 2) Tomas Plekanec (HAM), 3) Derek Roy (ROC)
Attendance: 3,119

Season’s not over yet for a pair of Dogs:

Immediately following Monday’s loss, a pair of Bulldogs were heading overseas to play in the IIHF World Championships.  W Andrei Kostitsyn, who missed game 1 of the series with an ankle sprain, will suit up for Belarus, while C Antti Miettinen has been added as a reserve player to Team Finland’s roster.

Significant roster turnover upcoming:

The conclusion of the final game also marked the end of the affiliation agreement with the Dallas Stars.  This means that Antti Miettinen, Steve Ott, Dan Jancevski, Trevor Daley, and Dan Ellis will not be back with the team next season.  Those 5 players, as well as the other Dallas prospects, will now suit up in Iowa next season.  Also not expected to return next year is D Dan Focht, currently an NHL free agent, whose role was limited to begin with before a shoulder injury cost him the season.  A trio of Montreal Canadiens are doubtful to return, as Jason Ward, Ron Hainsey, and Steve Begin all saw their AHL contracts expire after Monday.  W/D Benjamin Carpentier and D Phillipe Plante are AHL free agents; it is not yet known if Hamilton will be seeking to retain their services next season.  These, as well as the anticipated promotions of D Mike Komisarek, and either Chris Higgins and/or Tomas Plekanec, leave many holes in the Hamilton lineup for next season.

There is some relief on the way though.  W Alexander Perezhogin’s year-long suspension is now over, and he is expected to rejoin the team for next year.  Players like W Michael Lambert, D Matt Shasby, and C Cory Urquhart, who all started the season with Hamilton, will now likely have full-time roles for next year.  C Christian Larrivee is a restricted free agent this summer, and his services may not be retained.  There should be a battle for the backup goalie position between Olivier Michaud, who was very inconsistent in the ECHL, and Jaroslav Halak, who has yet to sign with Montreal due to the lockout.  Halak played well with Lewiston (QMJHL) this season.  Other possible arrivals from the junior ranks are: D Mark Flood (OHL), W Danny Stewart (QMJHL), W Jimmy Bonneau (QMJHL), and C Maxim Lapierre (QMJHL).

Around the AHL:

Eastern Conference:
North Division Semi-Finals:

1-Rochester defeats 4-Hamilton 4-0
3-Manitoba defeats 2-St. John’s 4-1

West Division Semi-Finals:

1-Chicago defeats 4-Houston 4-1
3-Cincinnati defeats 2-Milwaukee 4-3

Western Conference:
Atlantic Division Semi-Finals:

4-Providence defeats 1-Manchester 4-2
3-Lowell defeats 2-Hartford 4-2

East Division Semi-Finals:

4-Wilkes-Barre Scranton defeats 1-Binghamton 4-2
2-Philadelphia leads 3-Norfolk 3-2

Complete through games played as of May 1st.

The Weekly Bulldogs Stat Pack:

Game Results:

April 26: Rochester 5, Hamilton 4  Scoresheet

Week Record: 0-1-0
Playoff Record: 0-1-0, lose 1st round series 4 games to 0

Team Scoring Leaders:

Weekly Scoring Leaders Playoff Scoring Leaders

Tomas Plekanec (2)
Ron Hainsey (1)
Jason Ward (1)

Chris Higgins (2)
Steve Begin (1)
Tomas Plekanec (1)
3 others tied with 1

Tomas Plekanec (3)
Chris Higgins (2)
Jason Ward (2)

Chris Higgins (3)
Tomas Plekanec (2)
Jason Ward (2)

Tomas Plekanec (4)
Chris Higgins (3)
Steve Begin (2)
2 others tied with 1

Chris Higgins (6)
Tomas Plekanec (6)
Jason Ward (3)

Weekly Scoring Summary:

1) Plekanec (Higgins, Daley) PP
2) Plekanec (Higgins)
3) Ward (Ivanans, Begin)
4) Hainsey (Ward, Plekanec)

Special Teams:

This Week:
Powerplay: 1/5 (20%)
Penalty Kill: 3/5 (93.8%)

Powerplay: 1/19 (5.3%)
Penalty Kill: 17/21 (81.0%)

Long Beach Ice Dogs  ECHL Report:

Weekly Result:

April 25: Alaska 3, Long Beach 1

Like the Bulldogs, the Ice Dogs wound up being swept this week, after falling to the division champion Alaska Aces.  All in all though, it was a very successful season for Long Beach, who had the biggest gain in points from last season of any team in the league. 

Player Reports:

C-Christian Larrivee (Long Beach) This Week:  1 GP, 1 A, -1, 2 PIMS  Playoffs:  7 GP, 1-6-7, +1, 8 PIMS
C-Cory Urquhart (Long Beach) This Week:  1 GP, 0 pts, E Playoffs:  6 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIMS
G-Olivier Michaud (Long Beach) This Week: DNP  Playoffs:  0-1 record, 4.10 GAA, .840 SV%, 0 pts
D-Matt Shasby (Long Beach) This Week:  1 GP, 0 pts, E  Playoffs: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 2 PIMS
W-Michael Lambert (Long Beach) This Week:  1 GP, 1 G, E  Playoffs:  7 GP, 5-1-6, +1, 14 PIMS

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.

It was quite difficult to pick a player this week, as most of the contributors in Game 4 have already been nominated this month.  However, this week’s winner is Ron Hainsey, who scored with just over 30 seconds left, giving the Bulldogs a fighting chance to make the comeback.

April Weekly Winners:
March 28-April 3:
G Yann Danis
April 4-April 10: W Jason Ward
April 11-April 17: C Tomas Plekanec
April 18-April 24: W Chris Higgins
April 25-May 1: D Ron Hainsey

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

Still more to come…

Even though the season is over, it doesn’t mean that this column will stop…yet.  After the World Championships, there will be a final grades article as there was during the midseason.  Also, keep your eyes peeled for the 1st annual HabsWorld.net Hamilton Bulldogs Fans Choice awards (perhaps not by that exact name), where you, the fans will vote for several awards.  On a more personal note, I, and the staff of HabsWorld.net would like to thank you for your support of this weekly column; we hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we liked writing them.