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The Hamilton Bulldogs have advanced to the second round of the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs after winning their North Division Semi-Finals series vs the Manitoba Moose 4-2 in the best of seven games.

The Dogs jumped out to a quick lead of 3 games to 1, but the Moose charged back. Conservation Officers and Park Rangers in Canada’s National Parks (and common sense) will tell you never to approach or to back a wounded moose into a corner from which it cannot escape. Facing elimination, Manitoba showed the Bulldogs the reason why you should never do that, as they forced the series to go 6 games.

Both teams traded goals back and forth in Game #6 until they reached the most exciting word in playoff hockey: OVERTIME. Hamilton came out fired up in the extra period, outshooting the Moose 12-3. At 8:49 into the overtime, Grant Stevenson (assisted by Mike Glumac and Ryan Russell) ended the season for Manitoba when he scored the goal which gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 victory and advanced the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens to the North Division Finals.

In the second round, the Bulldogs will face the Abbotsford Heat, affiliate of the Calgary Flames. The two teams played eight times this season with Hamilton coming out on top with a record of 5-2-0-1. Abbotsford finished the regular season with a record of 39-29-5-7, good enough for 3rd place in the North Division final standings.

In their 1st round series, the Heat came from behind and forced a deciding Game #7, overpowering their opponent, the Rochester Americans. Abbotsford eliminated the Amerks with a 2-0 decisive victory, winning the series 4 games to 3.

The Heat are coached by Jim Playfair who last coached in the AHL with the now-defunct Saint John Flames from 2000-2003, winning a Calder Cup in 2001. Playfair also coached the Calgary Flames for one season (2006-2007). More recently, however, he is best known for his now-famous stick-smashing incident during a game this year vs the Hamilton Bulldogs back on March 27. 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. 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 incident made
national news on CBC and CNN.

Other notable names for the Abbotsford Heat include Jason Jaffray (their
leading goal scorer during the regular season with 25 goals and 29 assists), and
former Hamilton Bulldogs Garth Murray, Peter Vandermeer, and Olivier Latendresse.

In goal for Abbotsford is David Shantz from Burlington, Ontario, just outside of Hamilton. He finished the regular AHL season with a record of 15-10-4-4 and 1 shutout. In the playoffs so far, Shantz has a record of 4-2 and 1 shutout.

The Bulldogs and the Heat will get the North Division Finals underway on Thursday April 29th at 7:30pm ET at the Dog Pound at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

Here is the complete 2nd round playoff schedule:

Game 1 – Thursday April 29 – Abbotsford at Hamilton – 7:30pm ET
Game 2 – Sunday May 2 – Abbotsford at Hamilton – 2:00pm ET
Game 3 – Tuesday May 4 – Hamilton at Abbotsford – 10:00pm ET
Game 4 – Thursday May 6 – Hamilton at Abbotsford – 10:00pm ET
Game 5 – Saturday May 8 – Hamilton at Abbotsford – 10:00pm ET*
Game 6 – Monday May 10 – Abbotsford at Hamilton – 7:30pm ET*
Game 7 – Tuesday May 11 – Abbotsford at Hamilton – 7:30pm ET*
* If necessary