Strong Bulldogs flavour in Stanley Cup throw down

Eight former Bulldogs – players or coaches – are competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup finals which began Wednesday night (June 1) in Vancouver between the Canucks and the Boston Bruins.

Boston forward Michael Ryder, goaltender Tim Thomas, head coach Claude Julien and assistant coaches Doug Jarvis and Geoff Ward will be battling Vancouver forwards Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre and Raffi Torres for the chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Ryder was a member of the 2002-03 American Hockey League’s Bulldogs who lost in Game 7 of the 2003 Calder Cup final to the Houston Aeros and were crowned the AHL’s regular season champions with a league-high record of 49 wins, 19 losses, eight ties, and four overtime losses for 110 points. Ryder recorded 67 points (34 goals, 33 assists) in 69 regular season games that season and earned 17 points (11 goals, six assists) in 23 post-season games.

Julien and Ward were with the ‘Dogs from 2000-03 when Julien was head coach and Ward was an assistant. Together they compiled a record of 114-90-24-12 (W-L-T-OTL). During the 2002-03 season, Julien was called upon by the parent Montreal Canadiens of the NHL to assume head coaching duties while Ward took the reins of the Bulldogs, bringing them to Game 7 of the Calder Cup final.

For that season, both were co-winners of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award which is given annually to the AHL’s coach of the year. Jarvis became Hamilton’s bench boss from 2003-05 compiling a record of 79-54-10-11-6. He coached the 2003-04 team that was crowned North Division regular season champions.

Thomas played in 15 games with the ‘Dogs during the 1998-99 campaign posting a record of 6-8-0 with a 3.23 goals -against-average and .905 save percentage.

Higgins spent two seasons with Hamilton – 2003-04 and 2004-05 – registering 99 points (49 goals, 50 assists) in 143 regular season games and 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 14 post-season games. He was coached by Jarvis both seasons and was a member of the 2003-04 which won the North Division regular season champions banner and was also named the team’s MVP for 2004-05.

Lapierre played in Hamilton from 2005-08 and was a part of the 2006-07 Bulldogs club which won that season’s Calder Cup. Lapierre recorded 74 points (31 goals, 43 assists) in 129 regular season games with Hamilton and recorded 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 22 playoff games. He was given the Flamboro Downs Workhorse of the Year award in 2005-06.

Torres was a teammate of Ryder and coached by Julien and Ward on the 2002-03 ‘Dogs team, recording eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 11 regular season games and seven points (six goals, one assists) in 23 playoff games.

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