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. 

Mississauga Steelheads 3 Hamilton Bulldogs 1

Mississauga Steelheads 3 Hamilton Bulldogs 1

The Hamilton Bulldogs couldn’t able to solve the Steelheads defense and mentor errors once again as the home team falls down in defeat in the hands of the Mississauaga Steelheads 3-1. 

Offense

Despite generating quality scoring chances in many occasions throughout the contest, they were unable to solve the Steelheads netminder in this game. Give Mississauga defense a lot of credit. They stonewalled the attacking Hamilton unit with timely shot and pass blocking at the front of the net. The puck control was adequate at best tonight as well.

Defence/Goaltending

The Bulldogs defense were again strong today for the most part. However, they had three mental breakdowns that led to Mississauga goals (Bastian and two goals from scoring leader Tippett). Other than that, the defense had a great outing. Dawson Carty, the goaltender that was picked up via trade from Kitchener last week, delivered a good outing behind the crease for the Bulldogs. The squad showed grit, but again lacked discipline.

Special Teams

It was another case of missed golden oppurtunities for the Hamilton Bulldogs power play unit. There were proper effort made, but poor execution, especially when they had a five-on-three for several minutes, early in the third, to tie the contest. The penalty kill unit was solid tonight, especially killing a double minor and a five-on-three. 
The Hamilton Bulldogs continue their important home swing this weekend as they host the Oshawa Generals and Niagara Icedogs on Friday and Saturday night respectively.

Erie Otters 3 Hamilton Bulldogs 5

Erie Otters 3 Hamilton Bulldogs 5

In what was a very good performance by the Hamilton Bulldogs for the most of the night, they survived the thunderous rally by the top rated team in the OHL, and won the game 5-3.

Offense

The Hamilton Bulldogs offensive unit was choppy, yet very effective. They rattled the Erie goaltender with 3 goals on 10 shots by the time first period ended. The second period was tough, and was unable to shoot given the opportunity. The third period was more grinding, but managed to find the net twice more to seal the victory. Adam Laishram came up big with the two critical goals, including the eventual game winner early in the final frame. The only significant criticism was the control of the puck, especially in the attack zone. Need to be more better with the puck.

Defense and Goaltending

In regards to the Bulldogs defence this game, they played very good. They made Erie earn their shots at Hamilton netminder Kaden Fultcher, especially forcing the Otters to score from the outside within the attacking zone. Fultcher played good with another quality outing, but had a glaring miscue that ignited the nearly-successful comeback effort by the Erie Otters.

Special Teams

When it came to the penalty kill, to be able to shut down the first overall power play unit in this game was beneficial to their victorious outcome. The team overall was, for the large part, well disciplined.
The Hamilton Bulldogs travel to Erie for the road tilt with the Otters on Saturday.

2016/2017 Hamilton Bulldogs Midseason Review

2016/2017 Hamilton Bulldogs Midseason Review

As the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) approaches the holiday break period of the schedule, the Hamilton Bulldogs players and staff are sure fortunate to be .500 despite the luck lustre finish that is almost repetitive from last year. 

This is the team coming out of the gate this season by fire and precision. At one point, for the first month of the season, the Bulldogs were ranked #7 in the country. All sides were very good.  Less than a month into the season, Will Bitten withdrew his holdout with the Flint Firebirds and went to Hamilton to reunite with his old bench boss John Gruden.

But when November came along, the Bulldogs stopped winning. A couple series of losing streaks turned what was a solid start to a challenging season. Key injuries to Nikki Petti and Matt Luff didn’t help the team depth, let alone provide solid presence in the front six in which it has been rotated a few times during the November struggle. 

Although the scoring wasn’t much of an issue, it was the play of the defense and the discipline of the club as a whole that has become the major issues #1 and #2 during the slumps. Furthermore, the special teams (power play and penalty kill) are not very strong as they are both in the bottom ten in the league. If they want to become a playoff threat this year, this team has got to significantly improve.

The goaltending of Kaden Fultcher (12-11-2) has been good all year, but not at the level of elite yet. Cole Ceci has regained his confidence during the course of the season after a ruckus start. 

Here are my three keys to the Bulldogs forthcoming stretch ahead…

  1. Improve the discipline. Cut down the senseless minors, especially in the second period. Maintain the toughness but stay cool.
  2. Get rid of Petti and Fox. With all due respect, they had a good run, especially Petti. Great guys in the community, but they both played luck lustre hockey this year thus far, albeit for Petti for his injuries as the cause.  Get a good promising forward that can contribute in the power play, and be with the team through 2018. 
  3. Need more fans. Hamilton can’t get the hosting rights for the 100th Memorial Cup until this fan base accepts the reality that we don’t see a NHL team here in the horizon. This is a great hockey community that needs to come and support this great product.