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Welcome to a new season of Hamilton Bulldogs Weekly Recaps here on the HabsWorld website. In this week’s edition we will take a look at the Dogs first three games, in this, their 16th Season in the American Hockey League.
The Bulldogs are coming off a stellar season which saw them wrap up the top spot in the North Division, earning 92 points with a record of 44-27-2-7. Guided by last season’s bench boss Randy Cunneyworth, and propelled by playoff series victories over Oklahoma City (affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers) and the Manitoba Moose (then-affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks), the club enjoyed a deep run in the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs before falling to the Houston Aeros (affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) in seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
The Bulldogs' first week on the 2011-2012 schedule had them playing three games, one at home and two on the road, resulting in a record of 2 wins and 1 loss. Some Hamilton fans and Season Ticket Holders, including myself, had some worries going into this season as those who follow the team know that there has been a huge turnover in the player’s roster and the coaching staff as does happen frequently in the AHL with promotions to the NHL parent clubs (in the case of the Bulldogs, of course it’s the Montreal Canadiens), trades, players deciding to try their luck with a different team via free agency, etc, etc. This always leads to questions of whether the team can jell together and fill the shoes of last season’s team and what was accomplished in that season.
The fears were quickly put to rest though in the season opener/home opener at the Dog Pound at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton on Saturday October 8th as the Bulldogs defeated their old nemesis, the Rochester Americans (affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres) decisively by a final score of 5-2 and passed along the message that this team is here to win. Scoring the goals for the good guys were Frederic St. Denis (with 2 goals), Brock Trotter (also with 2 goals including one of which was a penalty shot), and Ian Schultz. Between the pipes, goaltender Nathan Lawson earned his first victory wearing a Bulldogs jersey, stopping 30 of 32 shots.
After winning their home and season opener, the Dogs made their first road trip of the season to Newfoundland for back-to-back games vs. the St. John’s Ice Caps (affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets).
In the first game, on Friday October 14th, the Bulldogs continued their winning ways, shutting out the Ice Caps by a final score of 4-0. Nathan Lawson once again earned the win (and the shutout) while the Hamilton goals were scored by Joonas Nattinen, Dany Masse, and Philip DeSimone (2 goals).
The following night, Saturday October 15th, the Ice Caps would exact some revenge on the Bulldogs, as the home team out there on “The Rock” handed Hamilton their first loss of the season, defeating the Dogs by a final score of 6-2. Getting the scoring for Bulldogs was once again Dany Masse, for his second of the season, and Gabriel Dumont. Assists were provided by Alexander Avtsin and Mark Mitera.
Coming up next on the schedule is a return to the Dog Pound on Tuesday October 18th vs. the Grand Rapids Griffins (affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings) and then a short trip across the Border to Rochester on Friday October 21st for the 2nd of ten meetings this season with the Amerks.