MONTREAL -- Despite losing a number of top-players to Montreal since the start of the 2010-11 season, the Hamilton Bulldogs continued to find a way to win over the month of January, showcasing their depth and maintaining a hold on first place in the AHL’s North Division.
With forwards Max Pacioretty
, David Desharnais
and defenseman Yannick Weber
already called up to fill gaps in the Canadiens’ lineup, the ‘Dogs were also forced to make due without the services of Andreas Engqvist
and Ryan White
for three games as they joined their teammates in Montreal.
The Bulldogs, in the midst of a three game winning streak when Engqvist and White were tapped, had no intentions of slowing down at the hands of further personnel loss and extended their streak to six consecutive games thanks to contributions from certain key players.
Defenseman Brendon Nash
enjoyed a breakout game during the Dogs’ 7-3 win over Connecticut on Jan. 21, with the 6’3”, 210lbs blueliner racking up a goal and three assists to post four points on the night. Ben Maxwell answered the call the following night with one goal and one assist in a 4-3 shootout victory over the Adirondack Phantoms and Dustin Boyd would go on to steal the show, potting a hat-trick in the Bulldogs 3-0 shutout of the Manitoba Moose.
With 33 games still left to play, the Bulldogs enter into the most crucial stage of their season, already sitting in a great position as they head down the final stretch. The 59 points that Randy Cunneyworth and his troops have amassed to date are good enough for first place in the North Division and would see them kick off the playoffs with home-ice advantage as they currently sit fourth in the Western Conference, only point back of the first three seeded teams.
Look for the Bulldogs to keep their foot on the gas through the final part of the year as the playoff race is shaping up to be a tight one. In the West, a mere five points are all that presently separate the first place Milwaukee Admirals and the tenth place Lake Erie Monsters. Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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