TORONTO – There will be no post-season play for the Hamilton Bulldogs. A pair of weekend losses by 3-1 scores – to the Toronto Marlies on Easter Sunday and to the Rochester Americans on Good Friday – left the Bulldogs 10 points away from the last playoff position with three games remaining in the American Hockey League’s regular season schedule.
The Marlies, who will finish first in the Western Conference’s North Division, dominated the division’s last place Bulldogs during the regular season, taking their series 8-4 in games.
On Sunday, the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead at 11:13 in the first period when Brian Willsie fed a slot pass to Joonas Nattinen, who beat netminder Ben Scrivens with his 11th of the season. Toronto got that one back with 1:23 left in the period when Nicolas Deschamps beat goalie Robert Mayer for his 12th of the season.
Bulldogs’ defenceman Zack FitzGerald established the team’s new single season mark for most penalty minutes by a blueliner after engaging Kelsey Wilson and Colton Orr at the same stoppage of play in the opening period.
With three games to play, FitzGerald has 257 minutes in penalties. That compares to retired player Dennis Bonvie’s team record of 522 MIP, which had been a league record until Hamilton-born Brian McGrattan re-wrote the record book with 551.
After a scoreless second period, which saw Bulldogs’ Philip DeSimone miss on a penalty shot, Ryan Hamilton scored the game winner with 10:52 left in the third period. Toronto added an empty net goal with 17.6 seconds left to play.
Hamilton had a 27-26 edge in shots on net with 4,866 in the stands.
The Bulldogs travel to Lake Erie to take on the Monsters at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13. They conclude the season with home games on Saturday and Sunday at Copps Coliseum against Grand Rapids.