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“Go West, Young Man.“

This famous quote is often credited to Horace Greeley, a founder of the American Republican Party and the creator of the New York Tribune newspaper back in 1841. It has been said that Greeley inspired thousands to set out for the Western Frontier as a result of this quote. However, some historical sources claim that the “Go West” phrase was originally used by John Soule in an article he wrote for the Terre Haute Express and that the article inspired Greeley to use the quotation in an editorial in the Tribune.

Regardless of who is believed to have penned the line, the Hamilton Bulldogs took the advice and concluded their second-to-last road trip of the 2009-2010 regular season with a quartet of games out West against two of their fellow North Division Canadian rivals, the Manitoba Moose and the Abbotsford Heat.

The first two games on Tuesday March 23rd and Wednesday March 24th in Winnipeg, marked the fifth and sixth of eight contests between Hamilton and Manitoba this season.

The Moose are desperately holding on to fourth place in the North Division with a 34-30-5-1 record, only 4 points ahead of the Lake Erie Monsters who are challenging for that 4th position in the standings.

All the scoring for the Bulldogs in Tuesday’s game was provided by Mike Glumac with two goals; the assists provided by Alex Henry, Andrew Conboy, David Desharnais, and Brock Trotter. Despite Glumac’s scoring efforts, Manitoba would go on to win the game by a final score of 3-2.

If some of the Winnipeg faithful were disillusioned by this win, thinking that their hometown Moose were going get some kind of advantage over the Bulldogs, causing the Dogs to shake with fright and cower in fear of the Mighty Moose, they were in for a HUGE dose of reality. The next night, on Wednesday, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens displayed to those fans exactly why they have a season record of 49-16-3-6; 107 points; and why they are the top team in the North Division as well as the Western Conference. The result was a 7-1 blow out victory for the Bulldogs. Brock Trotter scored 2 goals, with Aaron Palushaj, Yannick Weber, Ryan Russell, Dany Masse, and Andrew Conboy each helping out with goals of their own. Even Cedrick Desjardins got his name on the score sheet when he assisted on Russell’s goal at 17:07 of the 2nd period.

After they finished going Moose hunting, the Bulldogs continued their Western road trip for additional back-to-back games, this time against the Abbotsford Heat on Friday March 26 and Saturday March 27.

The first game, on Friday, was mostly uneventful as far as hockey games go. Mike Glumac (assisted by Desharnais) and Andre Benoit (unassisted) would do the scoring for Hamilton as the Dogs defeated the Heat 2-1.

But it was the second game, held the next night on Saturday, which has captured all of the attention and has become a National news story in the media. The CBC and CNN are also reporting on the event and have made it one of their Top Story Headlines.

For those who may not know what I am talking about…..at the 2:36 mark of the 2nd period, Abbotsford’s right-winger, J.D. Watt, collided with Bulldogs goaltender, Cedrick Desjardins, and was given a 5-minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct. The Abbotsford Heat Head Coach and former NHL player, Jim Playfair, felt that the penalty call by the referee was unjustified and proceeded to go berserk on the Abbotsford bench, verbally abusing the official and smashing two hockey sticks against the boards until those sticks demolished and turned into splinters of composite carbon fibres. Playfair was ejected from the game and was fined by the AHL for his actions.

The CBC news is reporting that more than half a million people have witnessed the incident after the Abbotsford / Bulldogs game video found its way on to the Internet.

The Dogs would go on to win this penalty-filled game by a final score of 4-0 to earn their 12th shutout of the season, tying the franchise record for most shutouts in one season. The win was Hamilton’s 49th of the season which ties the franchise record for most regular season wins. It was also the club’s 26th road win which is a new franchise record for most regular season road wins. The Bulldogs have only suffered seven regulation losses on the road this season and with only two road games remaining in the year, Hamilton will set a new franchise record for fewest regulation losses on the road in one season as the record currently stands at 12.