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In just a few weeks from now, the lights in “The Dog Pound” at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton will dim. The hockey players on the roster of the Bulldogs will silently gather in a darkened tunnel underneath the stands. They will have butterflies in the pits of their stomachs. Some will rock back and forth on their skates. Some will stare at a fixed spot on the floor. They will shut out any distractions which might possibly take away their thoughts which will be focused on the task ahead that is waiting for them. Each has his own role to play. And then, finally, the waiting will be over. They will skate out on to the ice surface one at a time for player introductions among fanfare and applause. The National Anthem will be performed, and then the puck will be dropped. A new season of Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey will be underway.
So what will this season bring? That’s hard to say. At the helm is the new head coach, Randy Cunneyworth. He is best known to Bulldogs fans as the former coach of their North Division rival Rochester Americans. During his tenure with the Amerks, he led his team to three 40-plus win seasons, two 100-point seasons and six playoff berths. He left Rochester as the longest serving coach in franchise history and ranks second on the club's all-time wins list.
It’s interesting to note that the Bulldogs 15th season in the American Hockey League will open on Friday October 15th in Rochester vs Cunneyworth’s old team. How is that for motivation to make an immediate impact as the new Hamilton bench boss?
But before that happens, the Dogs will travel to Newfoundland at the end of September to hold their annual training camp. This is the second time that the team has opened camp out on “The Rock”. Back in 2008, the Bulldogs played in a three-team tournament in St. John’s along with the Manitoba Moose (affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) and the Toronto Marlies (affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs). This time Hamilton will take on the Binghamton Senators (affiliate of the Ottawa Senators) in a trio of pre-season games.
Once the regular season gets underway, the Bulldogs and the Senators will battle two more times, with both of those games being played in the NHL arenas of the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. The game at the Bell Centre is scheduled for November 5th and the game at Scotiabank Place is dated for November 26th. The Bulldogs will return to the Bell Centre once more (February 25hth) to take on the Adirondack Phantoms (affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). The other 77 games on the schedule will be played mostly against the other teams in the North and West Divisions of the AHL’s Western Conference, including a new expansion team, the Oklahoma City Barons (affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers).
For these games, the fans of the Hamilton Bulldogs will be able to see returning players such as Curtis Sanford, David Desharnais, Ryan Russell, Alex Henry, Frederic St. Denis, and Yannick Weber to name a few. Some notable newcomers to the team are Alexander Avtsin, David Urquhart, Jimmy Bonneau, Andreas Engqvist, Ian Schultz, and Kyle Klubertanz.
The action all gets underway on October 15th in Rochester, New York, vs the Amerks; followed by the Dogs home-opener the next night on October 16th at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton vs the Toronto Marlies.
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