Bulldogs: Scouting the Enemy

These are the Hamilton Bulldogs. We only see them twice in a season and once in Milwaukee. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

In their last three-games the Admirals have played beyond regulation. In two of those three games they’ve lost. Three game point streak for the team – but now, with the homestand continuing, it’s time to get greedy and claim the maximum amount of points from struggling Hamilton Bulldogs team.

The Bulldogs have a record of 20-21-0-4 (44 points). They are currently third in the Western Conference’s North Division behind the Toronto Marlies (56 points) and Rochester Americans (50 points). In their last ten games the Bulldogs have been a dreadful 3-7-0-0 including four-straight losses:

Jan. 26 vs. Chicago: L, 4-1
Jan. 31 @ Abbotsford: L, 6-0
Feb. 1 @ Abbotsford: L, 4-1
Feb. 4 @ Rockford: L, 6-4

While the Admirals rested up and practiced from the comforts of Milwaukee – the Bulldogs were in a slugfest in Rockford last night. 10 goals in the game. 2 fights. And, unknown if there will be instant repercussions for it, but an illegal check to the head delivered by Stefan Fournier.

I suppose it should come as a surprise to see such mayhem from the Bulldogs though. They currently have 873 penalty minutes. That is the second most, only to fellow North Division opponent the Lake Erie Monsters (976 penalty minutes), in the Western Conference. They are tied for third most shorthanded situations in the entire AHL with the Binghamton Senators with 233 shorthanded chances. Despite having 40 more shorty scenarios than the Admirals the Bulldogs actually have a better penalty kill (83.3%) than the Ads (82.4). It might be a statistical factoid but if you give any team that many chances with an extra skater – it’s a dangerous game to play.

Martin St. Pierre. Remember him? You should because last year, while playing for the Rockford IceHogs, he was an Admiral killer. In 12 games against the Ads last season he scored 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists). No one in last seasons match up, Ads and IceHogs, scored more goals than St. Pierre. This season with the Bulldogs he has played in 42 games, produced a team-best 29 points (8 goals, 21 assists), has a plus/minus of -12, and has logged 34 penalty minutes. Last season with the IceHogs he had 204 shots on goal in 76 games. This season with the Bulldogs – just 68 shots on goal from 42 games (well off last year’s offensive pace). He has a stellar month of November, 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists), but has since been very miss and not so hit. In his last 23 games he has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). For all we know, a game against a team like the Admirals, that he did so well against the year prior, could ignite a fire under him.

Leading the Bulldogs in goal scoring is first-year pro Sven Andrighetto who has 10 goals this season. In the Bulldogs game last night in Rockford he earned second star honors for contributing a 4 point night (1 goal, 3 assists). He might have only played in 33 games this season but has been one of the better and more consistent performers for Hamilton. The 20-year old played two seasons with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL before playing in the AHL this season. His numbers were sharp in juniors: 115 games, 172 points (67 goals, 105 assists), a plus/minus of +2 (first season, -23… second season, +25), and 95 penalty minutes. The native of Switzerland has enjoyed a decent first season of professional hockey so far. He’ll be a man to stop tonight.

The Bulldogs top goalie this season has been 24-year old Dustin Tokarski. Entering tonight’s game he has played in 30 games, won 15 games, has a 2.32 GAA, and a 0.919 SV%. He has lost his last four-starts. And he has also conceded 11 goals in his last two starts – including 5 goals against the IceHogs in last night’s game. Should the team decide against using him in their two-in-two scenario tonight that would mean seeing Bulldogs’ backup goaltender Robert Mayer. The 24-year old Czech has not played on a regular basis at all this season: October, 4 games… November, 4 games… December, 3 games… January, 3 games… February (so far), 1 game… In 15 total games in net this season, Mayer has won only 4 games, has a 2.97 GAA, and a 0.902 SV%. No matter who the Admirals face – it could be to their advantage. They will get the struggling goalie or the cold goalie.

The Admirals will play tonight’s game after enjoying some downtime after a hectic two-in-two that saw them travel down to Iowa and back to Milwaukee. They won in overtime on the road in Iowa and then lost a shootout against Grand Rapids. This pushed their record to 21-13-6-4 (52 points). They are still third in the Midwest Division behind the Chicago Wolves. The Ads might be trailing their Amtrak Rivals by 4 points but they have 2 games at hand. If the Ads win those 2 games – we’re all even.

Colton Sissons is back in the lineup for tonight’s game after enjoying his first taste of the NHL. I’m still not too sure if this is a truck stop game for him tonight with a possible post-game trip over to Minnesota where the Predators play tomorrow. If it happens, it is a solid win-win for all involved. If not, this is still a win for the Admirals and Sissons. The Admirals get back one of their top scorers and all-around (power-play and penalty kill) players. Sissons gets to play lots and lots of minutes – minutes that were already alluding him at the NHL level on the Preds’ fourth-line. He has 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists). I expect his presence to be a big boost to the team in multiple facets of the game tonight.

Marek Mazanec will start tonight. That’s a shot in the dark from me. Just a guess. But, considering he has started in all 8 games since he was reassigned to the Admirals from the Predators, it’s probably a safe bet on my part. In his last game he looked incredible against the Griffins. It may have been a shootout loss. He may have given up 2 goals again (continuing his wacky stat of always conceding 2 or more goals per game in the AHL). But, he made more than enough clutch saves that allowed the Ads to take a point from the Griffins in the first place. He stopped 35 of 37 shots by the Griffins. With some much needed rest for the Ads’ workhorse – I expect a nice night in net for Maz. Bold Prediction: tonight he will end his string of 2 goals or more allowed.

What are your thoughts for tonight’s game? Will last night’s physical game against Rockford hurt or help the Hamilton Bulldogs as they play tonight? How will Colton Sissons play in his return to the AHL? Should the Admirals continue to dress 7 defensemen and scratch a forward or should they scratch a defenseman and keep the forward group stacked?

3 thoughts on “Bulldogs: Scouting the Enemy”

  1. Casey: It’s fun seeing a team from another division. Could be a different style hockey game – especially the first period. After playing the same divisional opponents again and again, everyone knows everyone and the way that they play. Not the case tonight. Puts a big emphasis on coaching and player smarts/skill to get the leg up – not just memory.

  2. A couple of other names to keep an eye on tonight for Hamilton: 1) Jarred Tinordi, son of former NHL blue liner Mark Tinordi. Like his father, Jared is big (6-6), tough (61 PIMs) and is not far off an NHL career of his own. 2) Another Bulldogs player with NHL family roots is Justin Cournall, son of Geoff Courtnall. Though not skilled like his dad, Justin is also a very tough player with 61 PIMs this year. 3) Defenseman Nathan McIver can also really throw the mitts, as his 287 PIMs last season with Bridgeport attest. The Summerside, PEI native, with 36 games of NHL experience, has 51 PIMs this year in just 22 games.

    Overall, these games are my favorites on the schedule since I grew up as a Boston Bruins fan. It’s been a long while since the Baby Bs of Providence have ventured into town, but I’m glad to see Boston’s rival development squads (Toronto and Hamilton) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center here every year.

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