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The Hamilton Bulldogs have been on a road trip for what feels like the entire month of December. Their travels have taken them to the United States midwest and through the State of Texas for a series of games. To Bulldogs fans and supporters, it seems an eternity since the team departed on this trip. In fact, it has only been two weeks.

Following stops in Oklahoma City, Cedar Park (Austin), and San Antonio, the Dogs landed in Houston, Texas on December 21st for the game which everyone was waiting for. This was the rematch to a 3-1 loss suffered by the Bulldogs at the hands of the Houston Aeros (affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) on December 14th in Hamilton’s last home game before the road trip.

The Bulldogs wasted little time in re-introducing themselves to the Aeros, as they defeated Houston by a final blow out score of 5-0. Curtis Sanford made 38 saves for his second shutout of the season while recently crowned Player of the Week David Desharnais recorded two shorthanded goals and two assists.

The Bulldogs opened the game’s scoring at 9:12 of the first period. Desharnais passed the puck to Brendon Nash, who blasted a shot from the point. Houston starting goaltender Anton Khudobin made the save but Dustin Boyd grabbed the loose rebound and fired it past the goaltender. The Dogs added their second goal at 11:26 while on the power play. Gabriel Dumont received a pass from Desharnais before centering the puck to the front of the net. Fortier skated towards the net and whacked the puck past Khudobin and into the net. Desharnais gave Hamilton a 3-0 lead at 12:59 with a shorthanded marker. Ryan Russell fed the puck to the centre of the ice, where Desharnais was positioned. Desharnais ripped a shot that sailed over the right shoulder of Khudobin.

At 2:51 of the second period, Ryan Russell increased the Bulldogs lead to 4-0. David Desharnais then scored his second shorthanded goal of the game at 6:58 to seal the 5-0 victory.

After a few days off for Christmas, the Hamilton Bulldogs finally concluded their road trip, returning to Canada, with a stop in Toronto on Sunday December 26th to battle their arch rivals, the Toronto Marlies (affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs).

With perhaps too much Christmas turkey in their stomachs, combined with the days off in between games during the break, the Dogs were unable to continue the momentum from their Western road swing and were defeated 4-3 by the Marlies in a shootout.

The Marlies opened the game’s scoring at 9:31 of the first period. Keith Aulie received the puck from Jay Rosehill before blasting a shot from the left point. The puck sailed through traffic and past Hamilton starting goaltender Curtis Sanford.

The Dogs tied the game at 11:44 when Andrew Conboy skated behind the net before sending a pass to Gabriel Dumont. Dumont dropped the puck to Kyle Klubertanz, who fired a shot past Toronto starting goaltender Jussi Rynnas.

Mike Zigomanis regained the Marlies lead at 3:19 of the second period. Korbinian Holzer received the puck from Joey Crabb before releasing a slap shot from the blue line. Zigomanis got his stick on the shot, redirecting the puck past Sanford and into the net.

Klubertanz scored his second goal of the game at 3:52. Conboy sent the puck along the blue line to Klubertanz, who then hammered a one-time shot that beat Rynnas through the pads. The Bulldogs took a 3-2 lead at 6:40 with a power-play goal. David Desharnais skated behind the Toronto net before feeding the puck to the slot, where Dustin Boyd was stationed. Boyd one-timed a shot past the glove of Rynnas and into the net. The goal extended Boyd’s goal-scoring streak to five games.

Aulie notched his second goal of the game at 10:58 of the second period to tie the score 3-3. Justin Hodgman sent the puck to Mueller, who waited patiently before sending a pass to Aulie, who skated into the slot. Aulie tapped the puck past Sanford and into the net.

With the score tied 3-3 and neither team able to win in the extra period, the game went to a shootout. Rynnas stopped all six Hamilton shooters while Crabb scored on Sanford in the sixth round to end the game.

The Bulldogs return to their Dog Pound home at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton this week when they host the Chicago Wolves (affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers) and the Lake Erie Monsters (affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche).