Categories
Feature

A First Look at Hamilton Bulldogs 2014-15 Lineup

By Dale Lamontagne, Lead Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report

(Photo by Hamilton Bulldogs)
(Photo by Hamilton Bulldogs)

MILTON, ON. — The Hamilton Bulldogs have added some veteran depth up front in signing T.J. Hensick to a one-year deal on Thursday.

It’s no secret the Bulldogs lack veteran help up the middle with just Jacob De La Rose and Gabriel Dumont  currently penciled in on the depth chart. But by adding Hensick, the Bulldogs get a proven forward at the AHL level that will likely center Sven Andrighetto and Christian Thomas on the first line, which could end up being the Bulldogs most offensive line in the 2014-15 campaign.

Hensick, 28, has 371 points in 363 AHL regular season games. He split the 2013-2014 season between the Hartford Wolf Pack and the Swedish Hockey League’s MODO.

In 42 games with Hartford, he scored 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists), and in 31 regular season games with MODO, he scored 15 points (four goals, 11 assists.)

Overall, this is a good depth move for the Bulldogs and I’d expect Hensick to score 30+ points next season, which is something the ‘Dogs desperately need.

There will be several changes in the 2014-15 Bulldogs lineup from last season with 18-goal man Mike Blunden being signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning and goaltender Devan Dubnyk being picked up by the Arizona Coyotes.

Forward Joonas Nattinen is a restricted free agent who received a qualifying offer from the Canadiens but he will be playing for MODO in the Swedish Eite League in the Fall. The Habs chose not to give qualifying offers to the following restricted free agents: forward Robert Czarnik and goaltender Peter Delmas.  Goalie Robert Mayer was released from the final year of his contract instead signing a three year deal with Genève-Servette HC of the Swiss hockey league.

With a hole in their goaltending depth resulting from the departures of Dubnyk, Delmas and Mayer, the Canadiens signed free agent Joey MacDonald to a one-year, two-way deal. MacDonald will likely share the crease with Mike Condon who spent most of his season in the ECHL.

Jacob de la Rose has committed to playing in Canada this season and will likely center the second line.  It will be interesting to see what happens with defenseman Magnus Nygren who has declared that he will not go back to Hamilton after an unsatisfying experience both on and off the ice. Both parties are likely open to a trade.

Mac Bennett could get a chance to play with his Michigan teammate Greg Pateryn. The puck-moving Bennett paired with the stay-at-home Pateryn formed an effective duo for the Wolverines. Also on defense Dalton Thrower was signed to a three-year entry-level contract days after the conclusion of the Canadiens season.

In other changes the Habs finally parted ways with the underachieving Louis Leblanc trading him to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional fifth round pick. Montreal decided to pass on signing Brady Vail and Erik Nystrom to entry-level contracts. Back in April, the Habs signed forwards Connor Crisp and Daniel Carr from the NCAA champion Union College Dutchmen to contracts. Rugged forward Jeremy Gregoire signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Canadiens but he has one more year of junior hockey left with Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

Below is an updated depth chart of the Bulldogs:

 

0vPGnCLGBulldogsDepthChartFinal2

 

As you can see, the Bulldogs lack veteran depth up front and on the back end whereas the goaltending situation seems fine.

Nonetheless, this signing is the start of many changes that need to be addressed in Hamilton.

Categories
Press release

Mayer Returns to Bulldogs; Condon, Schiestel Assigned to Nailers

MAYER REASSIGNED TO BULLDOGS; CONDON, SCHIESTEL ASSIGNED TO NAILERS

Hamilton Bulldogs Media Release

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – Montreal Canadiens and Hamilton Bulldogs General Manager Marc Bergevin announced today the Canadiens have reassigned goaltender Robert Mayer to the Bulldogs after a stint in the Spengler Cup with Geneve-Servette HC, while the Bulldogs have assigned goaltender Mike Condon and defenceman Drew Schiestel to the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers.

(Photo by Bradley Kalpin)
(Photo by Bradley Kalpin)

Mayer returns to Hamilton after winning the Spengler Cup with Geneve-Servette. In two games in the tournament, the Havirov, Czech Republic-born goaltender had a record of 2-0-0 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. In 11 games with the Bulldogs this season, the 24-year-old has a record of 3-6-2 with a 3.05 goals-against average and .896 save percentage. In 38 games with the Bulldogs last season, the 6’1”, 199-pound goaltender posted a record of 16-17-3 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. He was originally signed as a free agent by the Canadiens on September 25th, 2008.

Condon has split this season between Hamilton and Wheeling. In three games with the Bulldogs, the Holliston, Massachusetts native has a record of 1-1-0 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. In 18 games with the Nailers, the 23-year-old has posted a record of 10-4-4 with a 2.33 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and one shutout. The 6’3”, 195-pound goaltender spent last season with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Princeton University Tigers, the ECHL’s Ontario Reign and the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros. In 24 regular season games with Princeton, he had a record of 8-11-4 with a 2.48 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and two shutouts. In four regular season games with Ontario, he posted a record of 3-1-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout. In five regular season games with Houston, he had a record of 3-0-0 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Condon was signed by the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent on May 8th, 2013.

Schiestel has spent the entire 2013-2014 season to date with Hamilton. In 21 games with the Bulldogs, the Hamilton native has recorded six assists and 16 penalty minutes. The 24-year-old split the 2012-2013 season between the AHL’s Rochester Americans and the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. In 35 regular season games with Rochester, he recorded three points (one goal, two assists) and 16 penalty minutes. In three games with Greenville, he recorded no points and no penalty minutes. The 6’2”, 193-pound defenceman was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round, 59th overall, in the 2007 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He was signed by the Bulldogs as a free agent on July 29th, 2013.

Hamilton’s next game is scheduled for Friday, January 10th, when they will visit the Rochester Americans (AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres) at 7:05 p.m. at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. The ‘Dogs return to Copps Coliseum on Saturday, January 11th, when they will host the Americans at 7:00 p.m.

Categories
IceCaps game report

Tryout Filled Bulldogs Drop Preseason Opener to Marlies

By Dan Kramer, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

OAKVILLE, ON – The Hamilton Bulldogs opened their preseason calendar Friday night, and for the first few minutes, picked right back up where they left off last year. A weak line-up filled mostly with tryouts was dominated early by a Toronto Marlies squad highlighted by some of the Leafs’ top prospects, but fought back to make a game of it after Toronto had staked out a 2-0 lead. In the end, however, a valiant effort would fall short, with a late Spencer Abbott goal snapping a 3-3 tie and en empty netter rounding out the 5-3 Marlies victory.

Condon's debut in a Bulldogs sweater was a success, despite the loss (PHOTO: Ontario Reign)
Condon’s debut in a Bulldogs sweater was a success, despite the loss (PHOTO: Ontario Reign)

The Marlies opened the scoring when Mike Condon gave up a juicy rebound on a Kevin Marshall shot, kicking it cross-crease to where Jerry D’Amigo had an easy tap in. Condon appeared shaky when moments later, no one could clear Greg McKegg from in the crease, and his third whack at the puck snuck across the goal line to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. In fairness to the ‘Dogs, their roster contained few players expected to be major contributor to the team this season, while the Marlies iced multiple top Leafs prospects for the first half of a back-to-back.

But the tryouts on the Hamilton side were determined to strut their stuff in what could be their only chance to do so, given the Bulldogs’ short three game pre-season schedule. Though a 5-on-3 proved unfruitful, before the second penalty could expire, a Dalton Thrower point shot was narrowly missed on a deflection attempt by Alex Belzile, but the puck would bounce back in front off Akim Aliu for a Chad Wiseman tap-in before Christopher Gibson could recover, cutting the lead in half. Erik Nystrom – who left Sweden for a mere 25-game tryout deal with the Bulldogs – tied the score with a nifty deflection of a Joel Chouinard blast before the first frame was out.

The Bulldogs stormed out of the gates to start the second period, with the best scoring chance coming from Wiseman again off an Aliu rebound. Aliu was easily Hamilton’s most dangerous forward on the night, but Wiseman couldn’t find the puck in his skates quickly enough to capitalize for what would have been Aliu’s third assist. Though the Dogs were outchancing their rivals, it would be Toronto’s Wade MacLeod who would break the tie, tipping a Sam Carrick point shot past Condon during a delayed penalty.

After appearing shaky on the first two goals, Condon was solid between the pipes, notably robbing a Marlie with a cross-crease dive during a 4-on-3 penalty kill where it seemed he had no chance. The Princeton University alum will be in his first professional season, though he is almost certain to begin in the ECHL with Dustin Tokarski and Robert Mayer in the picture for Hamilton.

The second period ended on a bit of a scary note when Matt Lashoff took a hard hit while pinching in the offensive zone and was slow to get up. That ended his night, and perhaps his entire disappointing tryout with the organization.

Just before the ten minute mark of the third, Kelsey Wilson – the originator of a line-brawl in the game’s first period – appeared to tie the game on a great feed from Belzile, but despite him being the only player near the net, the goal was strangely waved off. The official announcement was that the net had come off its moorings, but the Oakville complex unfortunately offered no in-game replays.

Stefan Fournier would managed to knot things up a minute later, squeaking a shot through Sparks. Fournier nearly went from hero to goat, taking a penalty shortly after his tying goal, but sound goaltending and good defensive work from Chouinard (to go with his pair of helpers) kept it even.

Despite continued strong play from Condon, the Marlies would regain the lead with under two minutes to play. Jerry D’Amigo would spot Spencer Abbott alone on the doorstep after Matt Grassi lost his man in coverage, and Abbott had an easy tap-in to an open side of the net.

Shortly after Condon got to the bench for an extra attacker, Alex Belzile would turn the puck over in the neutral zone, and D’Amigo completed his night as the best skater for either side with an empty netter, icing the 5-3 victory.

The game should have ended there, but there was a strange dust up with fifteen seconds to play. Wilson again dropped the gloves, this time with Sam Carrick, and after a good bout of several blows exchanged each way, a fired up Wilson walked behind Hamilton’s bench, shouting on his way to the dressing room.

 

Hamilton line-up:
Erik Nystrom – Ben Duffy – Jordan Owens
Chad Wiseman – Akim Aliu – Alex Belzile
Justin Courtnall – Joonas Nattinen – Andre Morrissette
Stephen MacAulay – Stefan Fournier – Kelsey Wilson

Dalton Thrower – Matt Lashoff
Jeremy Price – Joel Chouinard
Matt Grassi – Nathan McIver

Mike Condon
Robert Mayer

 

The Bulldogs are next in action Saturday night with a rematch against the Marlies in Cobourg, Ontario. Their final preseason game is scheduled for Thursday, October 3rd against the Utica Comets in Dundas, Ontario, before opening their regular season at home on Friday, October 11th. You can tune in via radio throughout the season on the new home of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Hamilton AM 900 CHML, which will feature brand new pre- and post-game shows sure to highlight many Montreal Canadiens’ prospects.