The Hamilton Bulldogs concluded their illustrious and unforgettable 2017-2018 season with a Memorial Cup semifinal loss to the Regina Pats. Despite the gut wrenching defeat, this squad should reflect this season with a great deal of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Heading into the season, there were considerable thoughts into what the forthcoming campaign would unfold. The biggest question mark headed to the year was the year-long play of starting Goaltender Kaden Fultcher. How would he handle the everyday grind and also the gruelling postseason where anything could’ve happen? Well, not only the Brighton, Ontario native stepped up in big games, he was clearly the difference maker in the OHL championship run.
Furthermore, the defence and the great depth scoring prowess (led by Matthew Strome, Will Bitten and rookie sensation Arthur Kaliyev) alleviated the tension from early season struggles. Brandon “The Office Man” Saigeon and Isaac Nurse stepped up with a strong season.
Aside from the above, the hockey administrative management of the Bulldogs led by President and General Manager Steve Staios delivered a boatload of talent as the season progressed. The acquisitions of Landry, Mattinen, Cammano, Moore, Thomas and Stillman were a major gamble, but at the end, a greater reward as the hockey club proceeded into the postseason as the #1 seed at the Eastern Conference. At the playoffs, they went through Ottawa, Niagara, Kingston, and the number one team in the country Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds to win the OHL championship and a berth at the centennial Memorial Cup.
Give the Head Coach of the Bulldogs John Gruden and his staff a great amount of credit due to the great product they assembled every night and gettisoned these talented core through late-season leadership changes and delivered on the former’s mandate to earn the right to compete for the Memorial Cup the hard way.
Now, knowing the Bulldogs will undergo considerable overhaul for the next couple of years, it is worth knowing that patience will be acquired from this fanbase. As supporter of this team since its inception, one give critical and commendable praise to the team operations from both hockey and business standpoints on their effort. I’ll look forward to see the Bulldogs in the coming season ahead!