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Moose hunting in Southern Ontario is strictly regulated by the Ministry of Natural Resources in a season which lasts for only 6 days in the month of October. However, it appears that the Hamilton Bulldogs have been granted a special exemption to hunt moose in the spring as there is a terrific moose hunt taking place this week. Of course, I am referring to the Manitoba Moose, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, who are down 2-0 in games to the Bulldogs in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs North Division Final.

The first game of the series took place at the Dog Pound at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton on Thursday April 28th. The Moose scored the first goal of the game at 5:10 of the 1st period but didn’t do well to protect their lead. Hamilton outshot the visiting Moose 37-20 and much of the lopsided shot total can be attributed to the 10 powerplays which Manitoba gave to the Bulldogs. Special teams were not in Manitoba’s favour as the Dogs scored twice while having the man advantage and the Moose also allowed a shorthanded goal against as well.

Following the opening goal by the Moose, the Dogs tied the game 1-1 at 9:27. While positioned in the right corner, Andreas Engqvist sent the puck to the front of the net, where Ryan Russell was positioned. Russell one-timed a shot between the legs of Manitoba starting goaltender Eddie Lack.

Hamilton took a 2-1 lead while on the power play at 13:34 of the second period. Mathieu Carle fed a pass across the ice to Aaron Palushaj, who was at the left faceoff dot. Palushaj blasted a one-time shot past Lack and into the back of the net. Nigel Dawes increased the lead to 3-1 with another powerplay goal at 16:16. While positioned at the bottom of the left faceoff circle, Dustin Boyd received the puck from Palushaj before sending a no-look behind-the-back pass to Dawes, who was at the bottom of the right circle. Dawes one-timed the shot past the glove of Lack and into the net.

J.T. Wyman added a shorthanded marker at 18:59. Boyd and Wyman skated into the Moose’s zone on a two-on-one. Boyd slid the puck to Wyman, who tapped the pass underneath Lack and across the goal line.

The 3rd period was scoreless and the Bulldogs won the game by a final score of 4-1.

Game #2 of the series took place three days later on Sunday May 1st. For those who may have missed the previous game, the Bulldogs fans in attendance were treated to an almost duplicate replay of the opening matchup. Once again, the Manitoba Moose scored first, and once again, the Bulldogs responded to tie the score 1-1 and then advance forward, taking the victory, this time by a final score of 4-2. Gabriel Dumont recorded two goals including the game-winner while Ryan White played his first playoff game with the Dogs since being assigned from Montreal. On the score sheet in addition to Dumont was Mathieu Carle and Ryan Russell. The assists were provided by Nigel Dawes, Frederic St. Denis, Andreas Engqvist, Ryan White, Andrew Conboy, and Kyle Klubertanz.

This North Division Final is the 4th time the two teams have met in the Calder Cup Playoffs and the 3rd time they have met in the second round. Between the 2010-2011 regular season series and these current playoff games, the Bulldogs have a record of 8-0-0-2 vs the Moose.

The series now shifts to Winnipeg for Game #3, #4, and Game #5 if necessary.