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“What if….?”

That is the question that can be asked to the Hamilton Bulldogs through their first month of play in the 2010-2011 season. Currently sitting in 4th place in the North Division with a record of 4-1-1-2 and 11 points, the full question becomes, “What if the Bulldogs had converted their combined regulation, overtime, and shootout losses into wins?” Well, if that had taken place they would be leading the
division with a perfect 8-0 record. That obviously has not happened, but despite this, the Dogs did find themselves briefly in 1st place this last week, thanks to a pair of wins before they were shuffled back into their current position.

The first of those two wins, on Wednesday October 27, was the first of four meetings between the Bulldogs and the Syracuse Crunch (affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks).

Syracuse jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with goals at 1:52 and 5:14 of the opening period. Hamilton responded at the 12:33 mark when Max Pacioretty scored his 1st goal of the season, assisted by Frederic St.Denis and Kyle Klubertanz, to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.

Following a scoreless second period, and with the Bulldogs outshooting the Crunch by a two-period total of 27-8, Syracuse once again put a shot behind Hamilton starting goaltender, Robert Mayer, in the early moments of the 3rd, only 35 seconds in, and took a 3-1 lead in the game.

The Hamilton Bulldogs refused to roll over and play dead and continued their offensive onslaught of shots on the Syracuse net. The Crunch were finally unable to withstand the bombardment any longer and allowed the Dogs to score four goals in the final frame to give Hamilton a 5-4 victory. The Bulldogs goals were scored by Kyle Klubertanz, Andrew Conboy, J.T. Wyman, and Yannick Weber. Assists were by David Desharnais, Ryan Russell, Andreas Engqvist
(2), Pacioretty (2), Ryan White, and once again, Wyman, who assisted on Conboy’s goal. Final shots on goal were 42-12, which tied a franchise record for fewest shots allowed in a game.

The 2nd game of the week took place two days later on Friday October 29 when the Toronto Marlies (affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs) visited the Dog Pound for the second of ten meetings between the two teams this season. Last year, the Bulldogs held a 7-1-1-3 record over the Marlies and have an all-time record of 28-23-0-5-5.

With Robert Mayer allowing 4 goals on 12 shots in the Syracuse game, Peter Delmas received the starting duties in goal for this one and earned his first-career AHL win making 32 saves on 33 shots as the Bulldogs downed the Marlies by a final score of 2-1. Ryan Russell scored both goals for Hamilton, assisted by David Desharnais and Aaron Palushaj.

Up next for the Dogs is a pair of games vs the Manitoba Moose and then a visit to the Bell Centre in Montreal where the Bulldogs will take on the Binghamton Senators in a contest to showcase AHL hockey to the Montreal Canadiens fans. Those games will be covered in next week’s Bulldogs Recap, but for now, as we leave this week’s article, it’s time once again to introduce the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-Stars of the Month. Here are my picks for October:

1 – Yannick Weber (6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points)
– David Desharnais (3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points)
3 – Ben Maxwell (3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points)