2016-2017 HAMILTON BULLDOGS SEASON REVIEW COMMENTARY

2016-2017 HAMILTON BULLDOGS SEASON REVIEW COMMENTARY

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. 

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Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 3

Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 3

The Hamilton Bulldogs didn’t play their good style of hockey tonight. But they pulled it off in a semi-ugly fashion as they defeated the Barrie Colts 3-2.

Offense

The Bulldogs offensive unit were in “high noon” mode in the first eight minutes of the contest, scoring two goals in the process. However, despite the very good performance in the first twenty, the team stalled in the middle frame, and large part of the third, as they couldn’t shoot effectively despite the overwhelming number of shots. Furthermore, Barrie kept the pressure at their attack zone for most of that period, and eventually fought back to tie the game at two going into the third. 

Marian Studenic scored two goals and one assist, including the eventual game winner in the third, and was rewarded the first star of the game for his performance. Best performance I have seen him in his first year in the OHL. Brandon Saigeon contributed two points (1 goal and 1 assist), and team captain Justin Lemcke helped out with two valuable assists as well.

Defense and Goaltending

For the large part, the Bulldogs defense and goaltending of Dawson Carty was good tonight, especially in the final few minutes. They allowed only single digit shots in all three periods. Their scheme was very effective, and they did a very good job maintaining discipline. However, there were some shaky moments by Carty, but maintained great composure down the stretch.

Special Teams

In regards to the power play, the Bulldogs capitalized on their most of the oppurtunities in this game. They were 2/3 with the man advantage. On the contary to the penalty kill, Hamilton was above average in their four sessions in this game. In the late stages of the third period, however, they played their best PK of the year (in my opinion) when they had to minimize the Barrie extra attacker along with the man advantage for 90 seconds of the two minutes on the PK.
The Hamilton Bulldogs host Niagara IceDogs on Saturday and travel to Oshawa to take on the Eastern Conference leading Generals.

Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 4

Barrie Colts 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 4

The Hamilton Bulldogs shook off tough start to propel the Colts with a strong second period, to hold off the opposition 4-2.

Offense

The Hamilton offensive attack was at its endless barrage tonight. Once again, they provided multiple scoring chances, but managed to solve the Barrie netminder with three unanswered goals in the second period. Two of the elite forwards of the team, Will Bitten and Matthew Strome, provided the scoring punch, with Strome getting his first ever OHL hat trick. 

Matthew Crammerosa provided support, and was named third star of the game for his efforts. Strome and Bitten were first and second stars of the game respectively. Rookie forward Marian Studenic was the recipient of the Hardest Working Bulldog of the night, as he showed efficient skill with the tenacity to provide oppurtunities to score.

As the game went along, the passing of the puck was much better in both second and third than the opening twenty. The finesse around the net was bit overwhelming though, as their decision making early on was average, given the number of oppurtunities around the vincinity of the Barrie Colts net.

Defense and Goaltending

Overall, the Hamilton Bulldogs defense was good, but not crisp in this game. The discipline was shaky (several minor committed penalties weren’t necessary) as well the coverage of the ice had its errors. 

Fortunately, the Hamilton netminder, Dawson Carty, was again great in between the pipes. He salvaged the defense with multiple timely saves, and had a quality performance.  

Give credit to guys like Nikki Petti and Stephen Templeton for standing ground for the club, and took the bait the right way. Hamilton clearly intimated and made Barrie look like fools.

Special Teams

Great job by the Bulldogs penalty kill unit in this game. Defenseman Cole Candella was the most notable defender in all of the penalty kills, as he dumped the puck out of harms way during the times Hamilton was down a man (best performance of the year). Overall, the Bulldogs PK cleared all seven attempts tonight without conceding a goal. 

Although the power play was not much of a factor to oversee, they managed to score once on just their three attempts. 

In all, the PK played a monumental factor in the outcome of this game.
The Hamilton Bulldogs hosts the Kingston Frontenacs this Saturday. Both teams are currently deadlocked in points as far as the Eastern Conference is concerned.

Hamilton Bulldogs 5 Oshawa Generals 1

Hamilton Bulldogs 5 Oshawa Generals 1

The Bulldogs delivered a commending performance in Oshawa as they beat the top ranked conference leaders 5-1.

Offence

Hamilton managed to score at every period, with majority of goals came in the second and third period alone. Forwards Will Bitten led the team in scoring with two goals and one assist, while Matt Luff (2 assists) led the supporting contributors in the game. Matthew Strome, Zackary Jackson and Luke Kutkevicius also scored for the Bulldogs. 

The team managed a lot of shots at every period. They overwhelmed the Oshawa defense with a plethora of scoring chances, especially in the first period. 

Defense and Goaltending

The defense and goaltending performance of this squad was both gutsy and commendable. The defensive unit had a strong outing, containing the Oshawa attack with near perfect success. In the third period, the Bulldogs managed to contain the Oshawa offensive unit to just six shots in goal, despite giving up a combined 25 shots in the first two periods. Discipline was good, as well as shutting down Oshawa when it needed the most.

Goaltender Dawson Carty had another solid showing in between the pipes in this game. He stopped 30 shots, with several great saves and a good poke checking. He has started to become a beneficial insurance asset for the Bulldogs. 
Special Teams

It was another great performance in both units of special teams for the Bulldogs. In the penalty kill, the squad showed effective tactics and they complicated the power play unit of Oshawa in all of the outings in this game. 

The Bulldogs had a great showing in the power play as well. They produced multiple oppurtunities at their attacking zone, eventually scoring a goal in their four tries in this game.
The Bulldogs faces off against the Ottawa 67’s on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM. This game will be televised nationally on Sportsnet.

2016-2017 Hamilton Bulldogs Trade Deadline Recap

2016-2017 Hamilton Bulldogs Trade Deadline Recap

The Hamilton Bulldogs ended the OHL trade deadline of this season with mixed reviews, but appears to refrain from getting important top tier talent for a major playoff run this year. 

Make no mistake, I’m all in favour in investing talent that will contribute to the team long term instead of getting a rental-esque player (overager for this season). However, when you are making noise in this time of the year in which you are within striking distance of top spot in the conference, and let alone the way Oshawa unload two major names to western superpower teams in the league, one must wonder if this season should be a gamble by taking an elite forward with playoff experience. 

After Hamilton let go Trent Fox (Mississauga), Adam Laishram (Windsor) and Jesse Saban (North Bay), and only getting draft picks, a mid-level defenseman with Memorial Cup experience (Stephen Templeton), and an unproven forward in return (Ben Garagan), the Bulldogs have received mixed criticism from the OHL experts and writers. 

I’m for one, happy that Fox gets a fresh start with the Steelheads, and Laishram goes to play for the Memorial Cup with Windsor Spitfires (this years Memorial Cup hosts). Furthermore, I’m all in on increasing leadership within the locker room. With the addition of Stephen Templeton, you got a defenseman with many years of critical playoff experience and a Memorial Cup. Then you got an unproven forward looking to have a fresh start in Hamilton named Ben Garagan. He was a force in minor midget hockey, and had a strong showing at the 2015 OHL Gold Cup. However, his contribution and productivity in Sudbury does not reflect his potential. Given the opportunity, he can be a benefit for this club going forward.

Looking into the coming weeks ahead, one would expect the similar situation from last year arise. Marian Studenic and Connor Roberts should be expected to get critical amount of minutes down the stretch, and into the postseason. As for the team, it’s playoffs or bust this season going forward.

Niagara IceDogs 1 Hamilton Bulldogs 3

Niagara IceDogs 1 Hamilton Bulldogs 3

The Hamilton Bulldogs defeated their QEW rivals to the west in Niagara IceDogs 3-1. With the win, they are now 5-1 since Christmas break concluded, two out of three in their home stand this week. 

Offense

Hamilton Bulldogs offence continued to shoot the puck effectively, with another strong showing tonight. They were winning battles along the boards, and found ways to shoot the net when prompted the opportunity.  

Forwards and respective line mates Nikki Petti (2 goals) and Will Bitten (1 goal and 2 assists) did the damage for the home team. Their line mate Matt Luff also provided the insurance helper with three assists of his own, including two great passes near the net in the first period. Brandon Saigeon won the face off battle for the Bulldogs (11/15 on the face off wins).
Defense & Goaltending

Hamilton netminder Dawson Carty was very good tonight for the Bulldogs, as he saved 25 out of 26 shots, and made key saves during the third period. Defense did a good job as well, limiting Niagara to single digits in the shooting total, and was physical. They were very well in their discipline all game, made trip to the penalty box only once.
Special Teams

Hamilton Bulldogs power play unit had its best outing in many weeks, scoring two goals on five attempts. Likewise to the penalty kill unit as well, despite only killing off one IceDogs power play. 


The Hamilton Bulldogs travel to Sarnia next week  (Wednesday January 11) to start their mini road trip. They go to Oshawa on the Friday, with Ottawa at home on Saturday. 

Oshawa Generals 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 8

Oshawa Generals 2 Hamilton Bulldogs 8

The Hamilton Bulldogs stormed out of the gate in the opening minutes, and never coughed the lead up as they dominated with a convincing 8-2 win over the mentally overwhelmed Oshawa Generals.


Offense

This was the best performance by the Bulldogs offense since October. Multiple players contributed at least one point. Forwards Michael Crammerosa, Matt Luff, and Will Bitten each contributed heavily with two goals each. The new top line of Petti-Luff-Bitten buried the Oshawa defense all game long.

Defense

Strong showing all around by the Hamilton Bulldogs defense. After the first period, they minimized the Oshawa offense to under ten shots a period. Kaden Fultcher had another quality performance in net, although he wasn’t really busy for majority of the game, but made some timely saves when needed to. The discipline was better this evening, although there were a couple of ten minute misconducts negated by the Bulldogs in the final frame.

Special Teams

Better job in both phases by the Bulldogs tonight. The penalty kill was in top form, even killing both five-on-three and a couple off minors in the second period. The power play was more effective tonight, as they shot the puck at the net more than being too conservative.
The Hamilton Bulldogs wrap up their week long honest and against the Niagara IceDogs tomorrow night.