As far as weekends go, they can’t get much better for the Hamilton Bulldogs than the one they just finished (Dec. 18-20).
It started with a 4-0 shutout on Friday night, followed by a 4-1 win on Saturday night, and concluded with a 5-4 overtime victory on Sunday against the Rochester Americans.
When all was said and done, the Bulldogs found themselves atop the American Hockey League’s North Division, one point ahead of the Americans (43 against 42).
Mathieu Darche’s three goals and an assist and Benoit Pouliot’s single marker and two helpers spearheaded the visiting Bulldogs effort to unseat the Amerks.
Hamilton opened the scoring at 9:28 of the first period while on the power play. Darche passed the puck to Benoit Pouliot, whose shot on net bounced off a Rochester defender and past goaltender Alexander Salak. Salak appeared to be injured on the play and was replaced by Chris Beckford-Tseu.
The Americans tied the game eight minutes later. Jamie Johnson’s shot on net was deflected by Daniel Steiner and past goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.
The ‘Dogs regained their one-goal lead at 6:58 of the middle period. After receiving the puck from Mikael Johansson, J.T. Wyman fired a shot which was saved by Beckford-Tseu. Wyman grabbed the rebound before sending the puck over the left shoulder of the goaltender.
Darche added the Bulldogs’ third goal 14 seconds later. Ben Maxwell dished a pass to Darche, who was positioned in front of the net and Darche ripped a shot that beat Beckford-Tseu.
Rochester cut Hamilton’s lead to one less than a minute later with a power-play marker. Clay Wilson blasted a shot from the point through traffic in front of the net. Chris Taylor redirected the shot, sending the puck past Desjardins. The Amerks tied the game, 3-3, at 18:01. Wilson sent a pass across the crease to Johnson, who slid the puck through the legs of Desjardins.
Darche gave the ‘Dogs a 4-3 lead at 2:46 of the third stanza while on the power play. Pouliot sent the puck to Darche, who rifled a shot that bounced off the lower part of Beckford-Tseu’s glove and into the net.
Taylor’s second goal of the game tied the contest at 12:24 of the final frame. Taylor received the puck from Jordan Henry before firing a shot that beat Desjardins.
The Bulldogs needed just 50 seconds of play in the overtime frame. Darche collected his third goal to win the game for the Bulldogs. Tom Pyatt fired a shot that was stopped by Beckford-Tseu. Darche whacked at the loose rebound, squeezing the puck through the netminder’s pads and into the back of the net. Hamilton outshot Rochester, 46-26.
The Bulldogs meet the Americans for a rematch at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 26 in Rochester.
On Saturday night, the Bulldogs defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack 4-1. David Desharnais extended his goal-scoring streak to six games with the game-winning goal while also adding an assist in the victory.
Following a scoreless first period, the Bulldogs opened the game’s scoring at 5:09 of the second stanza. Mathieu Carle received the puck from Alex Henry before ripping a shot from the right point. The puck sailed through traffic and past Hartford goaltender Steve Valiquette.
The Wolf Pack tied the game at 8:06 of the middle frame. Michael Sauer sent a pass to Brodie Dupont, who weaved his way around a Hamilton defender before firing a shot over the right shoulder of Hamilton goaltender Curtis Sanford.
The ‘Dogs took a 2-1 lead at 10:38. While on a 5-on-3 power play, P.K. Subban dished the puck to Desharnais, who was positioned at the side of the net. Desharnais sent a pass to the front of the net that bounced off a Hartford player and squeaked past Valiquette.
Subban scored Hamilton’s third goal at 12:42 while on the power play. He blasted a shot from the point that was stopped by Valiquette. Valiquette was unable to control the rebound, knocking the puck into his own net.
The Bulldogs took a 4-1 lead at 15:09 of the third period. Subban fed a stretch pass to Ryan White, who had just exited the penalty box. White skated in alone on Valiquette before snapping a shot over the left shoulder of the goaltender.
Hamilton outshot their hosts, 34-26.