Last game could give Bulldogs North Division title

Aaron Palushaj had a hat trick and an assist while Nigel Dawes collected three assists as the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Manitoba Moose 6-3 on Friday night (April 8). The ‘Dogs have clinched home ice advantage through the first round of the American Hockey League’s 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs and with a win Saturday (April 9) against the Moose, can clinch first place in the North Division for the second year in a row.

Following a scoreless first period, Hamilton opened the scoring at 7:30 of the second period. Dawes shot on net was stopped by goaltender Eddie Lack. Palushaj grabbed the loose puck before firing it between the legs of Lack and into the net. Palushaj added his second goal a minute later while on the power play. Palushaj received the puck from Kyle Klubertanz and fired a shot that bounced of the left pad of Lack and into the net.

Manitoba got on the scoreboard at 11:08 of the middle frame. Aaron Volpatti received the puck from Garth Murray before skating down the left side of the ice and carrying the puck into the Bulldogs zone. Volpatti released a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that bounced off the glove of goaltender Drew MacIntyre and into the net.

The ‘Dogs took a 3-1 lead at 17:16 of the second stanza with a power-play goal. While stationed in front of the net, Dustin Boyd got a pass from Frederic St. Denis before using a forehand-to-backhand deke move and depositing the puck behind Lack and into the net.

The Moose cut the lead to one at 3:28 of the final frame while on the power play. Mark Flood received the puck from Sergei Shirokov before sending a pass to Marco Rosa. Rosa rifled a shot over the right shoulder of MacIntyre and into the top of the net.

Palushaj scored his hat-trick goal at 3:48 of the third period. Klubertanz sent the puck to Dawes, who proceeded to centre the puck to Palushaj, who had skated towards the net. Palushaj whacked the puck past Lack and into the net.

Shawn Weller scored the Moose’s third goal at 11:26 of the third stanza with a power-play goal. Guillaume Desbiens sent the puck to Alexandre Bolduc, who passed the puck to Weller. Weller finished the three-way passing play by firing a shot past MacIntyre.

Hamilton took a 5-3 lead at 13:03 of the third period. Lack came out from his net to play the puck but Andrew Conboy stripped the puck off a Moose defender before firing it into the open net. Ian Schultz scored the Bulldogs’ sixth goal of the game at 15:00. Dany Masse passed the puck to Schultz, who proceeded to fire a shot past Lack and into the net.

A crowd of 8,583 took in the game.

The Bulldogs close out the 2010-11 regular season when they meet the Moose Saturday.