The Hamilton Bulldogs enter the 2019-2020 season with a level of confidence and level-minded optimism.
Mixed in with a promising blend of youth and veteran talent, the Bulldogs would like to make strides following a season that experienced growing pains both on and off the ice.
Here are the positional breakdowns of the roster set to take to the ice on Friday in Sarnia…
From November onward, Zackary Roy showed glimpses of strong play and noticeable retractions on other games as a starter. Roy ultimately led the Bulldogs to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and started all four games against Ottawa in the playoffs – an impeccable feat for a rookie netminder which led to him being awarded the part of the OHL Second All-Rookie Team.
Expect another season of growing pains for Roy, but needs to minimize mistakes to avoid a sophomore jinx.
Marco Constantini is projected to be the backup to Roy. The 17-year-old netminder played well as the main man between the pipes for the Hamilton Kilty B’s last season, leading to a playoff berth in the OJHL. Don’t expect Constantini to challenge Roy for the starting job this year, but should get considerable playing time at times during this season barring injury.
This core last season was largely scrutinized by fans and observers alike and battle-tested based on their level of play. This shouldn’t be the case this year.
The effective core consists the likes of Kade Landry, Josh Wainman, Michael Renwick, Jake Gravelle, Cameron Supryka, the newly acquired Nathan Staios, Frank Jenkins, Peyton Vescio, and Gavin White rounds out the core that will look to better protect the second year Roy with stability on the blue line.
Longtime fan favourite Matthew Strome has left Hamilton for professional endeavours with the Philadelphia Flyers organization, leaving an invaluable mark on the five-year-old franchise. Despite Strome’s departure, the leadership and talent level hasn’t been regressed as initially expected for a revamped, competitive team.
Franchise player Arthur Kaliyev return from NHL training camp with the LA Kings to jumpstart a promising flux of youth and veteran talent on the frontline. Tag Bertuzzi looks to stay healthy and produce.
Liam Van Loon, Logan Morrison, Narvin Mutter, Avery Hayes and local fan favourite Issac Nurse return to stabilize the unit that the team will rely on for production every game. Rookies George Diaco, Ryan Winterton, Mark Duarte, Lawson Sherk and Davis Young rounds out the core that look to accumulate more scoring from last year.
Prediction – Hamilton finishes in sixth in the Eastern Conference. The team has many building blocks to grow and prosper for another championship run in the foreseeable future.