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Everyone knows of Walt Disney’s classic fairytale “Cinderella”, and how Cinderella ends up going to the Royal Ball thanks to some magical help from her Fairy Godmother. The Hamilton Bulldogs are going to their own Royal Ball in the form of the Calder Cup Playoffs, and they did not need any assistance from the Fairy Godmother to do it. The Dogs finished the 2009-2010 Season with an official record of 52-17-3-8 and 115 points, breaking 31 franchise records in the process, which is a better story than even Walt Disney could have dreamed up.

It would take a Bulldogs Recap article all by itself here on HW just to discuss those new records, so perhaps that is something we can take a look at during those Dog Days of Summer in the off-season. In the meantime, here is a partial list of the new franchise records, compiled by Mike Marasco, who works for the Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club.

Ryan Russell – All-Time Short-Handed Goals – 7

Andre Benoit – All-Time Points by a Defenseman – 93

Andre Benoit & Yannick Weber – All-Time Goals by a Defenseman – 23

Alex Henry – All-Time Penalty Minutes by a Defenseman – 580

Andre Benoit – All-Time Game Winning Goals by a Defenseman – 6

Yannick Weber – All-Time Overtime Goals by a Defenseman – 2

David Desharnais – Single Season Points – 78

P.K. Subban – Single Season Plus/Minus – +46

P.K. Subban – Single Season Points by a Defenseman – 53

P.K. Subban – Single Season Goals by a Defenseman – 18

P.K. Subban – Single Season Assists by a Defenseman – 35 (tied)

P.K. Subban – Single Season Power Play Goals by a Defenseman – 11

P.K. Subban – Single Season Plus/Minus by a Defenseman – +46

P.K. Subban & Yannick Weber – Single Season Overtime Goals by a Defenseman – 1 (tied)

Cedrick Desjardins – Single Season Wins – 29

Cedrick Desjardins – Single Season Shutouts – 6 (tied)

Team – Single Season Shutouts – 12 (tied)

P.K. Subban & Shawn Belle – Shootout Game Winners by a Defenseman – 1 (tied)

P.K. Subban & Shawn Belle – Single Season Shootout Game Winners by a Defenseman – 1 (tied)

Despite these impressive statistics, this was no Cinderella Season. The Hamilton Bulldogs have qualified for the playoffs 11 times during their 14 years in the American Hockey League and have been to the Calder Cup Finals three times and were crowned the Calder Cup Champions in that third visit to the Finals back in 2007. Having a playoff history such as this, the Bulldogs know exactly what they need to do in order to have a successful playoff run to fulfill their goal of another Calder Cup victory. But if there does happen to be a magical Fairy Godmother for this team, that role has certainly been designated to the Bulldogs coaching staff of Guy Boucher, Daniel Lacroix and Martin Raymond. These three dynamic coaches stress dedication and hard work from their players and the results which were accomplished this season speaks for itself.

It’s interesting to note that the Hershey Bears (affiliate of the Washington Capitals) were the opponent in two out of those three trips to the Finals by the Dogs (1996-1997 and 2006-2007)…..and guess who is the only team in the AHL this year to finish with a better overall season record other than the Bulldogs? You guessed it….the Hershey Bears.

Fans of the Hamilton Bulldogs are very excited with the anticipation of the upcoming Calder Cup Playoffs which gets underway this week, and with the possibility that the Bulldogs and the Bears will meet once again to determine the AHL Champion. And the fact that the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals, the parent clubs of both AHL teams, are meeting in the 1st round of the NHL playoffs only adds to the excitement even more.

But we are going to have to wait for Hershey because first up is the Manitoba Moose (affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks). The Moose and Bulldogs have faced each other twice before in post-season play (with the Bulldogs winning both times) but this is going to be the first time that they will meet in the first round. Manitoba finished the regular season with a record of 40-33-5-2, good enough for 4th place in the North Division final standings.

Hamilton holds a record of 4-3-1-0 against Manitoba this season.

The Bulldogs and the Moose will get the North Division Semi-Finals underway on Thursday April 15th at 7:30pm ET at the Dog Pound at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

Here is the complete 1st round playoff schedule:

Game 1 – Thursday, April 15 – Manitoba Moose at Hamilton Bulldogs – 7:30 pm ET

Game 2 – Saturday, April 17 – Manitoba Moose at Hamilton Bulldogs – 2:00 pm ET

Game 3 – Monday, April 19 – Hamilton Bulldogs at Manitoba Moose – 8:30 pm ET

Game 4 – Wednesday, April 21 – Hamilton Bulldogs at Manitoba Moose – 8:30 pm ET

Game 5 – Friday, April 23 – Hamilton Bulldogs at Manitoba Moose – 8:30 pm ET*

Game 6 – Sunday, April 25 – Manitoba Moose at Hamilton Bulldogs – 7:00 pm ET*

Game 7 – Tuesday, April 27 – Manitoba Moose at Hamilton Bulldogs – 7:30 pm ET*

* if necessary