It will be the Bulldogs vs. the Rochester Americans in Hamilton’s opening playoff round in the run for the Calder Cup.
Hamilton’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday (April 11) gave the Bulldogs one point and set the playoff matchup with Rochester. To be decided, is which team gets home ice advantage for the American Hockey League playoff series.
Hamilton plays the Griffins again tonight (Friday) at Copps Coliseum to complete the home schedule of the regular season and wraps up the schedule in Grand Rapids on Saturday and in Rochester on Sunday.
On Wednesday, the Bulldogs appeared headed to a win, leading 3-1 with less than half of the third period to play.
The Griffins opened the scoring just 2:31 into the contest when the puck bounced into the net off a crowd in front of Hamilton’s netminder Yann Danis. Tony Voce was credited with his 12th goal of the season.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the second period with a pair of goals 43 seconds apart. At 3:34, Maxim Lapierre, recently returned from the out-of-the-National-Hockey-League-playoffs Montreal Canadiens, tipped an Eric Manlow pass over the shoulder of Griffins’ goaltender Jimmy Howard. Then Jonathan Ferland scored his 22nd goal of the campaign by banging in a rebound from a Mathieu Biron shot at the 4:17 mark.
The ’Dogs scored again at the 15:00 mark of the middle stanza when Matt D’Agostini fired a slapshot past Howard from the top of the right face-off circle to extend Hamilton’s lead to 3-1. Corey Locke and Duncan Milroy assisted on D’Agostini’s 21st tally of the season.
Evan McGrath (13:39) and Matt Ellis (17:09) scored two late third-period goals for Grand Rapids to force overtime.
After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout. Kyle Chipchura and Maxim Lapierre tallied for the ‘Dogs but it wasn’t enough as Evan McGrath, Jonathan Ericsson and Kip Miller won the game for the Griffs with three consecutive goals in the shootout.
Between the pipes, Danis made 24 saves on 27 for the Bulldogs in a losing effort while Howard made 25 saves on 28 shots and earned the win.
Hamilton was 0-for-4 on the power play while Grand Rapids was 0-for-7 with the man-advantage.