IceCaps news

Bulldogs Drop Third Straight, Amerks Win 3-2


The Hamilton Bulldogs dropped their third straight game to the Rochester Americans at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, on Wednesday night.  The following recap is via

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Five goals were scored in a six-minute span, but the Hamilton Bulldogs were on the wrong side of the second-period offensive spree as the ‘Dogs (2-3-2-0) fell to the Rochester Americans (5-2-0-0) 3-2 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. on Wednesday evening.


After a scoreless first period, the ‘Dogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period.

First, forward T.J. Hensick fired a wrist shot off the post and in for his first as a Bulldog to get Hamilton on the board, with an assist from forward Gabriel Dumont. Less than two minutes later, forward Sven Andrighetto out-waited Rochester goaltender Andrey Makarov on a two-on-one break, then buried his fourth goal of the season, assisted by forward Christian Thomas.

Then Rochester fired back with three goals in less than four and a half minutes to go ahead 3-2 after 40 minutes.

Just 59 seconds after Andrighetto gave Hamilton a 2-0 lead, Amerks forward Mikhail Grigorenko beat Bulldogs goaltender Joey MacDonald from between the circles to get his team on the board, with an assist from forward Joel Armia. Three minutes later, Grigorenko dropped a pass back to Armia off the draw and he hammered a shot past MacDonald from the high slot to tie the game 2-2. Thirty-seven seconds later, at 12:06 of the second period, Rochester forward Luke Adam raced down the wing and put a wrister off the back crossbar to give his team the lead. His goal was assisted by forward Akim Aliu and defenceman Chad Ruhwedel.

The ‘Dogs pulled MacDonald with well over a minute remaining in the third period to push to tie, but the Amerks held on for the win.

MacDonald made 26 saves on 29 shots for the Bulldogs in the loss, while Makarov stopped 28 of 30 shots faced for the Americans in the win.

Hamilton went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Rochester was 0-for-5.

Dan Lawrie Insurance Premium Player of the Game: Gabriel Dumont

The Bulldogs return to action on Friday, Oct. 31 when they’ll visit the Charlotte Checkers at Time Warner Cable Arena at 12 p.m. The ‘Dogs next home game will be on Tuesday, Nov. 4 when they’ll host the Americans at FirstOntario Centre at 10:15 a.m.

IceCaps news

Bulldogs Open 2014-15 Season in Rochester


HAMILTON, ON — It’s finally time for Bulldogs Hockey!

The Hamilton Bulldogs kick off the 2014-15 regular season tonight in Rochester as they take on the 1-0-0 Americans at the Blue Cross Arena, with the puck dropping shortly after 7:00 p.m.

The Americans played last night against in a 6-1 win over the AHL’s new Adirondack Flames. There were some very questionable decisions in that game, most notably when Flames’ Trevor Gillies slammed  Buffalo Sabres prospect William Carrier’s head into the ice a handful of times. You can read more about the Americans 6-1 blowout here. 

The Bulldogs enter tonight’s tilt with a clean slate. The disappointing 2013-14 season is now behind them and a new year is about to get underway. The Bulldogs have had a busy offseason acquiring new players to try and bolster their forward core and defensive units.

There is no secret that the Dogs’ lacked depth last year, so they attempted to fix that issue for this season in acquiring T.J. Hensick, Jake Dowell, Drayson Bowman and Eric Tangradi. All players that can help bring size, scoring and leadership to the table.

Projected Line Combinations and Defence Pairings

Bowman – Andrighetto – Tangradi
Sorkin – Hensick – Thomas
Hudon – De La Rose – Carr
Dumont – Macenauer – Dowell

Drewskie – Pateryn
Bennett – Nygren
Finley – Dietz

Extra – Ellis – Shea


Bulldogs News: 

  • The Bulldogs have named Gabriel Dumont the teams 13th captain in franchise history.
  • The alternate captains will be Jake Dowell and Greg Pateryn for home games, and Davis Drewiske and Joe Finley for road games.
  • The Bulldogs have signed forward Jared Gomes to a professional try-out. The 25-year-old scored 11 points in 56 games with the San Antonio Rampage in 2013-14.
  • The 2014-15 Hamilton Bulldogs roster can be found here.

You can watch the game tonight on AHL Live, or listen to it on the radio at AM 900 CMHL

Press release

Matt Holmes Leads New Bulldogs Broadcast Team

Hamilton radio personality Matt Holmes named new play-by-play announcer


Hamilton Bulldogs MEDIA RELEASE

HAMILTON, ONT. – The Hamilton Bulldogs and AM 900 CHML announced today their radio broadcast team for the 2014-15 season.

For the first time in 13 years, the Bulldogs will have a new radio play-by-play announcer. Hamilton radio personality Matt Holmes takes over for Derek Wills, who accepted a position with Sportsnet 960 in August to become the voice of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames. Holmes joins the ‘Dogs after 10 years with CHML, over which time he worked as a news reporter, sports anchor and talk show host. His depth of experience as an on-air personality also includes work as host of both the Hamilton Tiger-Cats pre-game show and the Bulldogs post-game show on CHML, as well as eight seasons of Hamilton Red Wings hockey play-by-play. Holmes was born and raised on Hamilton Mountain, is a graduate of Mohawk College and worked at CHML since 2004.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club and its radio broadcasts on AM 900 CHML,” said Bulldogs president Stephen Ostaszewicz. “Following in the footsteps of the long-time voice of the Bulldogs, Derek Wills, is no easy task. However, Matt Holmes is a veteran broadcaster with a high energy level and passionate play calling who will continue to build our brand. We’re very excited to have him as the voice of a new era.”

Joining Holmes in the broadcast booth will be veteran broadcaster Al Craig, who returns for his 13th full season with the Bulldogs as colour commentator for all home games. Now in his 45th year of broadcasting, the native of Toronto, Ont. became the most recognizable sports broadcaster in Hamilton during his 23 years at CHML. Serving as the sports director for the majority of his long tenure with the station, Craig covered a wide variety of sports and leagues including the NHL, Major League Baseball, Canadian Football League, Canadian Soccer League and Ontario Hockey League. Craig has also covered a number of historical sporting events, including the 1972 Canada-Soviet Summit Series, the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups, the 1992 and 1993 World Series, won by the Toronto Blue Jays, the 1997, 2003 and 2007 Calder Cup Finals, as well as numerous World Championships in a number of different sports.

Rick Zamperin, assistant brand, news and sports director at CHML, will also return to host the pre-game show, which features commentary and one-on-one interviews with Bulldogs’ players and staff. Zamperin has been in radio for nearly 20 years and has worked in numerous cities, including Fort McMurray, Alta. and Chatham, Ont. Since 2007, Zamperin’s been the play-by-play announcer of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  You can hear his sportscasts every weekday morning on CHML.

Also new to the broadcast team will be post-game show host Anthony Urciuoli, who has anchored sports on CHML for the past four years. Anthony is from Hamilton and is a Mohawk College graduate. The post-game show this season will feature game recaps, player interviews and call-in segments.

The first regular season broadcast with the new lineup will be on Saturday, Oct. 11 when the ‘Dogs visit the Rochester Americans. The broadcast will begin with the pre-game show at 6:30 p.m.

Hamilton Bulldogs 2014-15 season tickets, flex tickets and group tickets are on sale now. For more information, call 1-866-DOGS-TIX or visit

Listen to all Bulldogs regular season and post-season games live on Hamilton’s AM 900 CHML, on or watch live on Catch select games live in high definition on Cable 14.

Press release

Single Game Tickets Available for Hamilton Bulldogs

Single-game tickets starting at $20; Special pre-sale for all ‘Dogs season ticket holders


Hamilton Bulldogs MEDIA RELEASE

HAMILTON, ONTARIO – The Hamilton Bulldogs announced today that single-game tickets for 2014-2015 regular season games at FirstOntario Centre will go on sale Wednesday, September 17th at 11 a.m.

All ‘Dogs existing season ticket holders will have a access to a special pre-sale beginning TOMORROW, Thursday, September 11th at 11:00 a.m. Single-game tickets available during this pre-sale will be offered at a special season ticket holder discounted price. The pre-sale will conclude on September 16th at 5:00 p.m.

Single-game tickets purchased in advance of their game will be $20 in the “blue” section, $23 in the “red” section and $29 in the “gold” section. Game day walk-up ticket prices will be $24 in “blue”, $28 in “red” and $32 in “gold”. To view the coloured seating chart, visit

Thirty-seven of the Bulldogs’ 38 home games will be played at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, while the other will be played at Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, home of their National Hockey League parent club, the Montreal Canadiens. 29 of the home games will be played on weekend dates while the other eight fall on weekdays including a 1:00 p.m. Family Day game on Monday, February 16th and the club’s annual School Day Game at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, November 4th.

The Bulldogs open their 19th American Hockey League season on Saturday, October 11th as they visit the Rochester Americans at Blue Cross Arena for 7:05 p.m. game. The ‘Dogs will return to Hamilton for their 2014-2015 home opener at FirstOntario Centre against their archrival the Toronto Marlies on Friday, October 17th at 7:30 p.m.


Hamilton Bulldogs 2014-2015 season tickets, flex tickets and group tickets are on sale now. Starting as low as $10 per game, we have great packages available for you to enjoy more Hockey Unleashed!  For more information, call 1-866-DOGS-TIX or visit


Press release

Bulldogs to Meet IceCaps for Mary’s Cup Pre-season Series


Three-game series takes place in Newfoundland and Labrador from October 2nd – October 5th


Hamilton Bulldogs Media Release

HAMILTON, ON – The Hamilton Bulldogs announced today that the team will travel to Newfoundland and Labrador to compete in the Mary’s Cup pre-season series against the St. John’s IceCaps. The ‘Dogs will play three exhibition games as part of the series, which runs from Thursday, October 2nd until Sunday, October 5th.

The series begins on Thursday, October 2nd at 5:30 p.m. EST at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor before the club travels to the town of Gander for a 5:30 p.m. EST game on Friday, October 3rd at the Gander Community Centre. The series concludes in St. John’s at the home of the IceCaps, Mile One Centre, on Sunday, October 5th at 2:30 p.m. EST.

“The Hamilton Bulldogs are excited to face off against the St. John’s IceCaps in the Mary’s Cup,” said Hamilton Bulldogs President Stephen Ostaszewicz. “This exhibition series will allow us to see how our club matches up against the defending Eastern Conference champions and it affords us a chance to bond as a team in a unique setting while preparing for the season ahead.”

The Bulldogs open their 19th American Hockey League season on Saturday, October 11th as they visit the Rochester Americans at Blue Cross Arena for 7:05 p.m. game. The ‘Dogs will return to Hamilton for their 2014-2015 home opener at FirstOntario Centre against their archrival the Toronto Marlies on Friday, October 17th at 7:30 p.m.

Hamilton Bulldogs 2014-2015 season tickets, flex tickets and group tickets are on sale now. Starting as low as $10 per game, we have great packages available for you to enjoy more Hockey Unleashed! For more information, call 1-866-DOGS-TIX or visit

Listen to all Bulldogs regular season and post-season games live on Hamilton’s AM 900 CHML, on or watch live on Watch select games live in high definition on Cable 14.

IceCaps game report

‘Dogs Comeback Falls Short in Shootout [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Connor Crisp | Gabriel Dumont | Joonas Nattinen | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – With little but pride left to play for, the Bulldogs turned to a surprising starter Saturday night in their return to First Ontario Centre from a nine-game road trip. The same day as Dustin Tokarski signed his new two-year contract with the organization, Robert Mayer was given another chance to prove he has value to Hamilton beyond this season, and he supported a ruthless Bulldog penalty kill that helped stage an improbable comeback from a 3-1 deficit. In the end, however, the visiting Rochester Americans – battling tooth and nail for a playoff spot – would prove too much, prevailing 4-3 in a shootout in the second-to-last game of the season at First Ontario Centre.


Connor Crisp's OHL scoring touch has carried over to Hamilton, notching his 2nd goal in 6 games on Saturday. (PHOTO: Scott Haddow, Northern Life)
Connor Crisp’s OHL scoring touch has carried over to Hamilton, notching his 2nd goal in 6 games on Saturday. (PHOTO: Scott Haddow, Northern Life)

Hamilton got the game’s first quality scoring chance when a Christian Thomas point shot hit a crowd of bodies in front of Rochester starter Andrey MakarovSven Andrighetto dug the puck out, spun, and fired a backhander on goal, but the netminder had the last word.

Andrighetto would make good on his next drive to the net, however. With five minutes to go in the opening period, the Swiss native entered the Americans zone with speed, cut towards the goal, and saw his shot attempt bounce off Makarov’s pads to a wide open Connor Crisp, who made no mistake in hitting the empty side of the net. The goal was Crisp’s second in his sixth professional game on a tryout with Hamilton.

Rochester would tie the game just two minutes later, however. Nathan Beaulieu attempted a clear off a defensive zone face-off, only to see it kept alive by Tim Schaller at the line. Beaulieu was then beaten to the net by Colton Gillies, who accepted a pass and fired a shot inside the post on Mayer.

A bit of bad luck to start the second, as Mayer made an ill-fated attempt to stop a dump-in behind the goal. A weird bounce had the puck squirt out front to Kevin Porter, who quickly tapped it into the goal before the netminder could recover.

Mayer would redeem himself not long after, sliding across to miraculously stop a Mikhail Grigorenko point-blank shot into what looked like a gaping cage. He couldn’t stop them all, however, as the ‘Dogs were heavily outchanced, and Brayden Irwin found a loose puck at the lip of the crease, slapping a rebound past the keeper just before the period’s halfway mark for a 3-1 advantage.

A 5-on-3 powerplay gave Rochester the chance to put the game out of reach, but strong defensive work by the P.K. unit and even a semi-breakaway for Joonas Nattinen allowed the home side to kill it off. Hamilton seemed to take some momentum from the kill, with each of Gabriel Dumont and Christian Thomas earning quality scoring chances in the period’s final minutes, but both turned aside by the Amerk rookie.

Any chance at a comeback took a serious blow when Dumont was assessed a four minute high sticking penalty as the second period expired. But the aggressive penalty killers got the job done once again, even generating chances for defensemen Nathan McIver and Drew Schiestel.

They say many things can turn the tide in a hockey game, and the two big penalty kills were no exception in this one. The line of Joonas NattinenJack Nevins, and Nick Tarnasky stormed the Rochester crease, and a rebound landed on the Finnish centre’s blade. A slick forehand to backhand shift gave him a clear shooting lane, which he deftly capitalized on to pull his side within one.

Nattinen earned third star honours for a hard-working game on a line with Jack Nevins and Nick Tarnasky. (PHOTO: Vincent Éthier)
Nattinen earned third star honours for a hard-working game on a line with Jack Nevins and Nick Tarnasky. (PHOTO: Vincent Éthier)

The hounds smelled blood with that goal, and Hamilton controlled flow over the next few minutes, but was unable to get anything through to Makarov. Until, that is, Gabriel Dumont turned in a dominant shift. After blocking a shot in his own end, he collected a turned over puck and raced down the ice, roofing a laser beam shot over Makarov’s arm to tie the game.

And the ‘Dogs didn’t stop there. They looked poised to collect a regulation win  when in the game’s final minute, the newly assembled unit of Andrighetto, Thomas, and Nick Sorkin – who logged big minutes in perhaps his best AHL game to date – generated three shots on a dangerous offensive zone sequence, but couldn’t seal the deal.

Overtime would solve nothing, and if several big glove saves from Mayer allowed the ‘Dogs to reach the shootout, his play in the skills competition tiebreaker ended things quickly, ceding on three consecutive shots.

Still, the stirring comeback provided an entertaining evening for what was one of the best crowds seen in Hamilton in months, with 6,314 in attendance in addition to 84 dogs for the team’s annual Pucks and Paws night.

“It shows a lot about the guys in the room. Obviously we wish we’d be in the race for the playoffs, and making comebacks to get in, but everybody’s playing for something,” summed up Dumont, the third goal scorer. “The road trip and here today again, the penalty kill was really big for us. We’ve had some success because of special units.”

The shorthanded units were a common theme post-game as a source of motivation that had the bench believing in a comeback. “Obviously with things like that, the team gets some life and power off of it. I can’t say I’ve ever had a 3-on-5 scoring chance before,” added Nattinen, a key role player who had recently spent time in the press box to make room for some of the younger junior call-ups.

Coach Sylvain Lefebvre agreed with Nattinen’s assessment, lauding the efforts of his two-way centreman. “It’s been a tough time for Nattinen. He had some big blocks, and came up with a big game tonight. We killed some big penalties with the 3-on-5 and the four minutes to Dumont. We came up short in overtime and the shootout, but showed some grit and character against a team that needed those points.”

The ‘Dogs close out their schedule with a game in Lake Erie on Tuesday, and then a home date against Syracuse on April 19th. Hamilton fans can get tickets for the last chance to see their team in the 2013-14 season at


NOTES: The game marked the professional debut of Montreal prospect Jack NevinsBrady Vail will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. Martin St Pierre also missed the game with an injury suffered in practice on Friday. Morgan Ellis was a healthy scratch.

IceCaps game report

Americans Snap Bulldogs Streak at Six [with POST-GAME AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Greg Pateryn | Robert Mayer | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – The Hamilton Bulldogs came home from a four-game road trip riding a six-game win streak, but a strong first period was insufficient to extend the streak to seven Saturday night against the Rochester Americans. It looked through twenty minutes as though the ‘Dogs might continue the dominance they displayed on the road, but the visiting Amerks got revenge from the first half of the teams’ home-and-home, slowly taking control starting at the game’s halfway point, and then controlling the flow in the final minutes to secure a 3-1 victory.

Greg Pateryn's powerplay marker gave Hamilton an early end, but the home team couldn't keep up the rest of the way. (PHOTO: HAMILTON BULLDOGS)
Greg Pateryn’s powerplay marker gave Hamilton an early end, but the home team couldn’t keep up the rest of the way. (PHOTO: HAMILTON BULLDOGS)

The game marked Robert Mayer‘s first start since winning the Spengler Cup during a brief loan to Genève-Servette. Mayer was phenomenal in the tournament’s final, particularly as Genève-Servette held on under siege during the third period.

Mayer’s shaky confidence has often been a knock against him throughout his professional career, so the hope was that the championship might give him something to build on back in the American Hockey League, but the extended time off between games saw him look hesitant off the bat. The first shot his way – coming from the blueline – squeaked through him, but fortunately trickled just wide of the cage.

From there, the Bulldogs took over the first period. On the team’s first powerplay at the midway mark of the period, Greg Pateryn took a feed from Christian Thomas along the blueline and took a few strides in from the point before firing a hard wrister past Nathan Lieuwen for a 1-0 lead. The goal was Pateryn’s seventh of the season, putting him just two behind Louis Leblanc‘s team leading nine. As much as Pateryn could help the Montreal Canadiens as an upgrade on D immediately, he has been Hamilton’s MVP through the first half of the season, and would be an enormous loss for the ‘Dogs.

Nathan Beaulieu and Sven Andrighetto had quality scoring chances looking to extend the Hamilton lead before 20 minutes were through. Beaulieu accepted a drop pass and displayed soft hands in weaving through the Amerks’ defense before firing a shot that rang off the post. A few shifts later, Andrighetto’s stickhandling ability allowed him to find open ice in the offensive zone, but his shot was narrowly wide.

The Bulldogs picked up right where they left off in the second period. Gabriel Dumont battled hard in front of Lieuwen on an early powerplay, finally leaving the puck for Mike Blunden to crash the goal and try to sneak one through the Rochester netminder, but to no avail.

After successfully killing ten penalties in Rochester the night previous, Hamilton was again set on not making the night an easy one for themselves. The Americans – who began to find their legs as the period moved on – hemmed the ‘Dogs in their own end for an extended period of time, eventually earning a powerplay thanks to a Christian Thomas failed clear attempt that sailed over the glass. Mayer was forced to make a big save lying on the ice in snow angel formation to help his ‘mates survive the kill.

But Rochester’s momentum only grew from there. Mayer – who also settled down as the game wore on – made the initial stop on a rush, but kicked the rebound all the way back to the point where Chad Ruhwedel was waiting. The blueliner’s shot would be tipped in front by Brandon MacLean to tie the game before Mayer could recover.

The third period started with both teams afraid to make mistakes. The biggest moment in the early-goings was a successful Hamilton kill of a Greg Pateryn penalty. It took till the midway point of the frame for the first real scoring chance, when Maxim Macenauer and Louis Leblanc broke in on a two-on-one. Macenauer opted to keep the puck and identified the nearside top corner, but Lieuwen got the blocker up in time.

Seconds after the unsuccessful rush, Luke Adam – always a thorn in Hamilton’s sign – deftly stickhandled inside the Bulldogs blueline to create room before spotting Johan Larsson alone in the slot. Larsson – acquired from Minnesota as part of last season’s Jason Pominville trade – quickly redirected the pass into an empty net as Mayer attempted to slide cross-crease, giving Rochester its first lead of the night.

By this point, the Americans had taken control of the flow of the game, and coasted the rest of the period with Hamilton unable to generate much in the way of chances to tie the game. Mayer skated to the bench following a Bulldog dump-in, but Rochester recovered, and Luke Adam – yes, him again – lobbed a puck into the empty cage with just under a minute to play, sealing the Amerks victory and ending Hamilton’s run.

“That first goal was really big for us, and I thought we were going to be able to feed off that, but we played one and a half periods of hockey, and that third period we gave the game away,” summarized the night’s second star, Greg Pateryn. “It happens sometimes. We have to break away from it.”

Pateryn was perhaps the biggest reason outside of Dustin Tokarski for Hamilton’s recent success, having found solid chemistry on a pairing with Jarred Tinordi after spending much of the early season beside Nathan Beaulieu. The 23-year old believes he and his new ‘mate can make a solid shutdown duo. “We’re starting to really build some chemistry. We’re talking out there, always trying to get better with the little things. He’s a really good player and I’m really happy to play with him.”

Critical for the Bulldogs is not to fall into the same trap they have earlier this year, where multi-game win streaks were essentially negated by extended losing streaks. They’ll have a chance to put tonight’s loss behind them quickly, as they hit the season’s official halfway point with a home date against the Iowa Wild Sunday. In the words of Pateryn: “We need to not let this loss get to us and take the positives from it. There are a lot of games in the season.”


IceCaps game report

Bulldogs Close Season with Strong Effort but Lose to Americans [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Sebastian Collberg | Nathan Beaulieu | Frederic St. Denis

HAMILTON, ON – Let’s face it: It’s been a difficult AHL season for the Hamilton Bulldogs. The team finished the season in last place in the league, and this attributable to a combination of inexperience on the ice and behind the bench, poor play, and bad luck. Sunday, the ‘Dogs at least turned in a strong effort for the fans in their season finale, though they would ultimately fall to the Rochester Americans by a 4-1 score.

Nathan Beaulieu was named Hamilton's Rookie of the Year and M.V.P., while sharing top defenseman honours with Jarred Tinordi (PHOTO: HAMILTON BULLDOGS)
Nathan Beaulieu was named Hamilton’s Rookie of the Year and M.V.P., while sharing top defenseman honours with Jarred Tinordi (PHOTO: HAMILTON BULLDOGS)

The Bulldogs got off to a strong start, generating some opportunities but this without showing any killer instinct to create high percentage scoring chances. It would end up biting them as a harmless looking Luke Adam shot was deflected by Maxime Legault and squeaked through starter Jacob Gervais-Chouinard to put the visitors on the board. The goal seemed to deflate the home side, as the momentum they had been building slipped away for the remainder of the first.

It returned in the second, however, in a period the Bulldogs impressively dominated. The first quality chance belonged to Nathan Beaulieu, the player named the team’s MVP for the 2012-13 season prior to the game. Beaulieu collected a Charles Hudon feed and very nearly split the Rochester defense, but in the end could only muster a weak shot on goal.

Next it was Louis Leblanc – a player certainly not receiving any end-of-year awards after a disappointing season – with a clear shorthanded breakaway. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the puck to settle, and wound up fanning on a shot attempt after putting a move on Matt Hackett.

A powerplay would allow the Bulldogs to draw even. Frederic St. Denis took a Greg Pateryn pass and skated in off the point, beating Hackett cleanly with a quick shot. And the team wouldn’t stop there, with glorious chances to go ahead, coming off the sticks of Beaulieu, Adam Ross, and Sebastian Collberg, all turned away by Hackett’s glove.

The saves seemed to spark the Americans, as a Beaulieu pinch left Rochester captain Matt Ellis completely alone in front of Gervais-Chouinard, who had a strong game in only his second professional start, easily sliding the puck past the fallen netminder and restoring the Amerk lead.

The ‘Dogs didn’t quit, battling hard to try to draw even in their 2012-13 swan song into its final period, but Hackett was repeatedly up to the challenge. An Alex Belzile shot met his glove. A nifty move by Frederic St. Denis saw his wraparound saved, with a Belzile rebound opportunity meeting the same fate. When the netminder wasn’t standing on his head, he was also benefiting from some less-than-opportunistic Bulldogs, as Sebastian Collberg – turning in a standout effort in only his second North American game – narrowly missed two rocket shot chances from the slot.

But try as they may, as has been the story many nights this season, the comeback effort fell short, with the Americans prevailing on the back of Hackett’s 29 stops. Phil Varone put it out of reach in the final minutes, alone in front at the end of a 2-on-1 rush, sliding a backhander between Gervais-Chouinard’s pads. An empty netter by Frederik Roy was all the scoring to be seen at Copps Coliseum until the Fall.

A disappointing result to cap a disappointing season for the Hamilton faithful, but the addition of many Hab prospects for the stretch run gives all some positives to bank on for the near future. One bright spot was the play of Collberg, who is expected to return to Sweden next year where he is under contract with Frolunda, but looks to have a promising career ahead of him. The Swede missed Saturday’s game as the club chose to not force him into a 3-in-3 situation coming off a concussion, but generated scoring chances on both Friday and Sunday night. “It was two weeks ago that my season was over and of course I wanted to play more. Easy decision for me to come here. I was in Montreal for a week with the doctors and practiced all of last week. It was good to have two games instead of none.”

On his concussion, Collberg assures that he is 100% and wouldn’t have played if he wasn’t. The adjustment to North America has looked natural on ice, but he does note some challenges in the different style of play. “The smaller rinks make it go a little quicker and it’s a tougher game out there. I’ve started getting used to it after two games, but everyone is stronger and bigger so I have to be stronger around the net. I’ll work on that back home.”

Collberg’s goal in joining the Bulldogs was simply to continue improving his game, as the Swede isn’t thinking of changing his mind as to where he’ll play next year, excited about a new coach in Frolunda and a mix of younger players.


IceCaps game report

Vail Shines but Amerks Come Back to Top ‘Dogs [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Louis Leblanc | Dustin Tokarski | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – Hamilton Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre wouldn’t be the first to struggle to figure out where to play 19-year old Brady Vail. The tryout getting a first taste of American Hockey League action after his Windsor Spitfires failed to qualify for the OHL playoffs was used on three different lines over the past three games, getting limited minutes on a fourth unit in a loss to Abbotsford on Friday.

But Saturday night, Coach Lefebvre seemed to have found some magic, placing the natural center who was even forced to spend some time on defense for Windsor between Louis Leblanc and Steve Quailer, with the trio providing a spark that should have been sufficient to get the ‘Dogs back in the win column. Unfortunately, the two goals they produced wouldn’t hold up to a third period rally from the Rochester Americans, who ultimately escaped with a 4-2 win on truly a one period effort.

Quailer may have found a home with Vail and Leblanc, the trio combining for two goals (PHOTO: Cathie Coward/The Hamilton Spectator)
Quailer may have found a home with Vail and Leblanc, the trio combining for two goals (PHOTO: Cathie Coward/The Hamilton Spectator)

To a man, the Bulldogs have spoken about the importance of quick starts to their success this season, and they took it to heart against the Americans. After earlier being denied on back-to-back chances off a Rochester giveaway, Vail opened the game’s scoring by deflecting a Peter Merth point shot past starter Nathan Lieuwen while mucking it up in front of the net. The goal was Vail’s first (and second point) at the professional level, coming in his fifth game.

Greg Pateryn had a couple of good opportunities to add to the lead for the home team, but a powerplay point shot and an uncharacteristic pinching one-timer were both turned aside, as Hamilton held a 13-6 shot advantage through twenty minutes.

An injury scare saw Lieuwen pulled for David Leggio for the visitors to start the second period, a bad omen for the Bulldogs considering the netminder has recorded two shutouts at Copps Coliseum this season. But the Bulldogs didn’t let up, taking the play to the Amerks again in the second set, winning most races for the puck and one-on-one battles.

Vail continues his strong play, working hard on the penalty kill and effective in his own end, notably making one diving interception and clear to break up a dangerous scoring chance. His line would be rewarded again for their hardwork in the period’s final minute when a Louis Leblanc forecheck got the puck back to Jarred Tinordi whose point shot was tipped by Steve Quailer and just trickled across the goal line for a 2-0 lead.

Rochester wouldn’t go quietly into the night, however. After an Evan Rankin wrister on a rush down the wing got the Americans within one, it was Rankin again leading a charge and taking a shot which got through Dustin Tokarski – who hadn’t been tested much through two periods – and sat in the crease. Zack Stortini was first to get a stick on it, but unfortunately for Hamilton, he inadvertently tapped it into his own cage.

Coach Lefebvre tried to settle his side down with a timeout, but the Amerks kept on coming, taking the lead for the first time of the night on a Jerome Gauthier-Leduc shot from the blueline which hit off Tokarski before finding the back of the net. It wasn’t the goaltender’s finest outing of the season, and the crowd let him know, offering up a Bronx cheer for his next save.

The Leggio storyline would pick back up in the third period, as he made numerous high calibre saves, including on rebound chances for Gabriel Dumont and Alex Belzile to preserve the comeback victory, sealed with an empty netter. It marked the second night in a row where a solid home effort from the Bulldogs still saw them leave Copps Coliseum without a point.

“A loss is a loss. And tonight we came up short,” summarized Tokarski, clearly upset over the result but showing a brave face in facing reporters all the same. “I think we came out fired wanting to win the game, but we gotta learn how to win and how to close out games, starting with myself. It’s a mental thing.”

The positive the ‘Dogs can take on the road is the chemistry on the newly formed Quailer – Vail – Leblanc line, provided Quailer won’t miss any time with a banged up knee after being seen with an ice pack taped around it post-game. “It’s been a tough season, but every player has tough seasons. Keep working hard and keep a good attitude. That’s all I can control and that’s all I’m doing,” explained Leblanc after one of his better performances in recent weeks. “I played with Quailer earlier on this season, and Brady is a new young player who brings some energy. It worked well tonight.”


IceCaps game report

Tokarski Shines but ‘Dogs Winning Streak Ends at Four [with AUDIO]

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

POST-GAME AUDIO: Dustin Tokarski | Sylvain Lefebvre

HAMILTON, ON – The cellar-dwelling Hamilton Bulldogs entered their Monday afternoon matchup against the Rochester Americans as – surprisingly – one of the AHL’s hottest teams, winners of four straight and five of their last six.  But in this game, the ‘Dogs looked to be at their early season form rather than continuing their recent strong play, unable to generate anything in the way of offense, and coming up on the short end of a 3-0 final, flattering only because of stellar netminding from Dustin Tokarski.

It was another slow start for the Bulldogs, who were outshot 18-7 in the first period and fell behind 1-0 when a Brayden McNabb wrist shot from the point found the corner of the net behind Tokarski. It then became further clear that this wasn’t going to be Hamilton’s night when the second began in the same way, with Luke Adam converting on a two-on-one to double the Americans’ lead.

"If you didn't think Tokarski could stop the puck, now you know," said Sylvain Lefebvre of his message to the team. (PHOTO: Dan Kramer,
“If you didn’t think Tokarski could stop the puck, now you know,” said Sylvain Lefebvre of his message to the team. (PHOTO: Dan Kramer,

The ‘Dogs seemed to steady the ship a bit around the midway mark of the period, and drew a penalty looking to get on the board. But a terrible powerplay saw the team struggle to even gain entry into the offensive zone, and the ice re-tilted in Rochester’s favour thereafter, with the visitors holding a dominant 37-13 shot advantage through 40 minutes.

“I won’t lie, I haven’t faced that many in a long time. But as a goaltender, you gotta be ready to make 20 saves or 50 saves. Ultimately, they scored more than we did, and their goalie outplayed me. I gotta be better,” said Tokarski post-game, clearly his own harshest critic.

Tokarski notably came up big on one goalmoth stand as the Americans crashed the net, but on four occasions couldn’t slipped one passed the newest member of the Bulldogs.

Despite the lack of effort, down just 2-0, Hamilton seemed to find some stored up energy for the third, increasing their shot total to a respectable 30 on the night, and making David Leggio earn his second shutout of the season (the first also came against the Bulldogs). Sylvain Lefebvre‘s new top six combinations of Mike BlundenJoey Tenute, and Patrick Holland and Gabriel Dumont, Michael Bournival, and Louis Leblanc both had their chances, particularly after Tokarski was pulled for an extra skater with 2:47 to play.

“Nothing was happening before that, so might as well pull him right away and see if we can get one quick, and it’s a 2-1 game,” explained Lefebvre on a night where his squad looked weak at both ends of the ice for two periods.

It’s easy to say that Hamilton had earned an off-night based on their recent strong performances, but still near the basement of the AHL standings, there is no room for error if the team wants to get back into playoff contention. Thus, every game is a must-win as the team moves on to the Bell Centre in Montreal for a rematch with Rochester Friday night.