In the 2016/2017 season, the Hamilton Bulldogs made significant strides this season.
New coach, new jersey, restructured administration, and a major early season acquisition of Will Bitten proved to the revolving fan base that the Bulldogs are making a major push for the championship.
Despite the hot start in which they, at one point, were seventh in the top ten CHL rankings in October, the team had a rough stretch from November through mid December. But by the time the holiday break ended, the Bulldogs caught fire.
For the majority of the season, the Bulldogs were not a consistent team. They played well in several winning streaks of four and five in several occasions in the year. But when they lose, they have a long streak of five or six games. In other words, they were hot and cold. Dawson Carty took over the starting goaltender job mid-February and didn’t totally relinquish.
The special teams were a downer for most of the year, but showed glimpses of what can become. The power play improved from the bottom five at the start of the year for three months to the top ten by the final week of the year. The penalty kill showed several bright spots, but wasn’t a consistent force, largely due to the discipline issue.
The playoffs were a roller coaster. Despite the early exit, the main core of the team (Luff, Strome, Entwhistle, Studenic and Roberts just to name a few) gained substantial key game experience in which they can utilize for a championship run next year.
At the end of the year, Bulldogs say farewell to graduates Niki Petti, Dawson Carty, and Michael Crammerosa.
If I could grade the team overall this year…I would give them a B.