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Hamilton on verge of historic AHL comeback

by Emily Kaplan
Three times this past week, the Hamilton Bulldogs found themselves at the brink of elimination.

And three times this past week, the Bulldogs rallied back to keep their Calder Cup dreams alive.

Hamilton fell into a 3-0 hole in its series against the Houston Aeros in the AHL Western Conference Finals. Yet the Bulldogs pieced together an improbable comeback by winning three-straight games -- including a Game 6 victory that was decided in double overtime -- to force a Game 7 at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Should the Bulldogs win, they'll face the Binghamton Senators in the 2011 Calder Cup Finals. They'll also secure a chapter in the AHL history books.

In the 75-year history of the AHL, only two teams -- the 1960 Rochester Americans and the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings -- had won three straight games in a best-of-7 series after falling into a 3-0 hole.

Both the Americans and the Red Wings completed the comeback by winning Game 7.

In 1960 Rochester defeated Cleveland in Game 7 of the league semifinal while the 1989 Red Wings completed their comeback in the divisional finals against Hershey -- led by a game-winning goal by future New York Rangers' great Adam Graves in Game 7.

Hamilton has been led by forward Nigel Dawes in the 2011 playoffs. Dawes, who played 13 NHL games this season with the Thrashers and the Canadiens, set a Bulldogs' franchise record with 14 postseason goals. His most important tally came 9:11 into the second overtime of Sunday night's Game 6 that kept Hamilton alive, yet again.

With the Game 6 victory, the Bulldogs improved to 2-1 in overtime this postseason and a perfect 4-0 in elimination contests.

Real-time scoring of Tuesday’s game can be accessed via or
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