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We’re nearly a quarter of the the way through the year, so it’s about that time to see who’s been an
early surprise so far this season and who hasn’t performed as well as expected. 
Hamilton is off to a so-so start on the year with a 5-6-3 record and have had a
few pleasant surprises and unpleasant disappointments.  Let’s start off with the guys that just haven’t shown up quite yet.

First on the docket: Nathan Beaulieu, he was expected to be a key player on this years’ roster but has yet to perform as such.  Sure, he’s traveled quite a bit between Montreal and Hamilton, but I don’t think that is an overall great excuse for not being able to perform.  So far this year he has played a total of eight games for the Dogs … and has three points total from his three assists.  After watching him play the end of last season and the start of this year, I’d say he’s not quite at the same level of play.  Maybe it is the fact that he spent quite a bit of time back and forth, and not actually hitting the ice.  I suspect after a few more games and a bit more ice time he will back to where he was before, and he will produce the way that was expected at the start of the season.

Jarred Tinordi was another one that was said to be a core player this year for the Bulldogs; however he didn’t come back to Hamilton until just a few weeks ago as he was in Montreal for the start of the season.  With him back on the Bulldogs he hasn’t looked overly bad, but he has still yet to catch my eye as a key player.  So far he’s played a total of
nine games with the Dogs this season, and what does he have to show for it?  Well,
he has two penalty minutes and a +/- rating of -5 … so I wouldn’t say a lot.

I’m going to have to say this next player is one of the bigger let downs so far this season, as he’s been on the team now for four years. He’s got a whack of experience and should be able to perform. Gabriel Dumont has been with the Hamilton Bulldogs since 2010. He has had ice time in two playoff
runs, and played well in both, with a total of eleven postseason points.  Last year although the
Bulldogs didn’t do all that well through out the regular season, he put in 16 goals
but this year he doesn’t seem to be on that path.  After playing 12 games this season with the Bulldogs he has yet to put in anything, and has collected a total of
four points. The worst part is that he hasn’t even been getting too many shots on net, as he’s
averaging just two shots on net throughout the twelve games.  A pretty rough start for this vet.

Here’s to hoping that these three will figure it out and get back on track as the season
progresses. But let’s move to some positives and talk about the surprises the Bulldogs have seen so far.

Louis Leblanc is one of my first surprises after playing some phenomenal hockey in quite a few games
recently.  He’s also another one that has been back and forth between Hamilton and Montreal but apparently it hasn’t been affecting him in quite the same way
as the defencemen.  Although he has yet to put up any points for himself while in Montreal he has won two games for the Bulldogs with overtime goals, and has become a clutch player in Hamilton.  Currently with
five goals, he’s already at the halfway mark to where he was last season.  He
has also collected three assists.  In all 11 games that he’s been with Hamilton he has continued to be a key asset for Hamilton and is performing better than I expected.

Finally, one of the biggest surprises and possibly what could have been the best addition to the Bulldogs this season
is Sven Andrighetto.  The rookie winger is currently leading the Bulldogs in points, with a total of 11, and is on quite the point streak. In the past few games he has been the key to keeping them from being shutout.  After scoring in the last preseason
game and watching him on the ice I figured he would be someone to watch, and I wasn’t wrong.  Andrighetto has played in a total of 14 games this season and found the back of the net seven times, but he’s also been giving out a few helpers, managing to collect four assists.  He’s currently ranked 9th throughout the leagues’
rookies in points and sits just outside of the top 40 throughout the entire league
(in 41st).  I have no doubt in my mind that he will continue this level of play and end the season with either the most goals or most points for the Dogs.

Leblanc and Andrighetto have become core players for the Bulldogs, and if some of the others figure out what’s going and bring their play up to where it was expected, Hamilton should be able to get back on top of the North Division.