It was business as usual for the Hamilton Bulldogs this past week, but the three games that were on the week’s schedule all contained certain elements which created a different perspective from the fans point of view.
The first game, on Wednesday November 10th, had the Bulldogs lace up the skates at the unusual start time of 10:45am in Cleveland, Ohio vs the Lake Erie Monsters (affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche). This early hour for a hockey game obviously played havoc with the regular routines and rituals that the
‘Dogs are used to following because the result was a blow-out loss for Hamilton. David Desharnais scored the opening goal of the game (and the only one for the Dogs) at 5:56 of the second period. The Monsters responded by blasting five unanswered goals past Bulldogs’ starting goaltender Robert Mayer, to give Lake Erie a decisive 5-1 win.
With Bulldogs fans and supporters still puzzled and confused over that early game time in Cleveland, the next game on the schedule was on Saturday November 13th when the Bulldogs welcomed the Grand Rapids Griffins (affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) to the Dog Pound for the first of six meetings between the two teams this season.
This time around, the fans had to deal with the fact that the annual Santa Claus Parade had been scheduled by the City of Hamilton to take place immediately before the hockey game. This meant that there were road closures all around Copps Coliseum and the downtown area. Also, there was no parking available because all of the usual parking areas were taken up by those who came to watch the Parade.
While Santa Claus was merrily going down the street outside Copps, those who were lucky enough to actually make it to the game witnessed the Bulldogs honour members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present, in a pre-game ceremony for what was called “Salute the Troops Night.”
After the ceremonies ended and the puck dropped, Aaron Palushaj opened the game’s scoring at 7:41 of the first period, assisted by David Desharnais to give the Dogs a 1-0 lead. That lead was increased to 2-0 at 17:56 of the second period when Max Pacioretty scored his 4th goal of the season, assisted by Alexander Avtsin and J.T. Wyman.
With the clock counting down the last moments in the third period, it appeared that Curtis Sanford was going to earn his first shutout of the season, but as lots of hockey fans know, saying the word “shutout” or even thinking about it for that matter is a bad omen and a jinx, and that’s what happened to Curtis. The Griffs finally
hit the score sheet at 18:33 when a shot was blasted through traffic in front of the net and past Sanford, who was screened on the shot. Even though he lost the shutout, “The Sandman” stopped 22 of 23 shots and the Dogs won the game by a final score of 2-1.
The following afternoon, Sunday November 14th, the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Grand Rapids Griffins played once again, in their second match of a two-game back to back series. Grand Rapids took a 1-0 lead half way through the first period and that score lasted until the third period when Yannick Weber scored his 8th goal of the season on the powerplay. Assists were by Ryan White and Brendon Nash. The Griffins would find the back of the Hamilton net once more before the game was over to give them the victory, defeating the Bulldogs 2-1.
And for the fans, despite the loss, they actually had a positive game experience this time. It was a normal Sunday afternoon 4:00pm start time. Santa Claus was on his way back to the North Pole. And it was a “Skate With The Bulldogs” following the game when Bulldogs Season Ticket Holders get the opportunity to go out on to the ice surface and skate around with the Bulldogs players, get some autographs, and take some photos.
For myself, as a Hamilton Bulldogs Season Ticket Holder, it was special for me to be out there on the ice, meeting the players, and especially Alex Henry because that game was Henry’s 346th as a Hamilton Bulldogs player, which ties the team record as the longest-serving Bulldog. Expect that record to be broken on Tuesday November 16th when he and the Dogs play their next game.