Bull­dogs on the brink … of a play­off berth

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TERI PECOSKIE

With 11 games left in the reg­u­lar sea­son, the Bull­dogs are on the brink of a berth in the On­tario Hockey League play­offs — a first since mov­ing to Hamil­ton at the start of last sea­son.

For the team, its f ans and this city, it’s no small deal.

The last time the Bull­dogs made the post-sea­son was 2011, when — as Mon­treal’s Amer­i­can Hockey League af­fil­i­ate — they were sunk in seven games in the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nal.

Since then, it’s been a six-year drought.

That could all change as early as Sun­day, though, with a cou­ple of points and a lit­tle bit of luck. Here’s how. Go­ing into the week­end, the Bull­dogs are in fourth place in the OHL’s East­ern Con­fer­ence — 17 points ahead of the Ot­tawa 67’s and North Bay Bat­tal­ion, who are duk­ing it out for the eighth and fi­nal play­off spot.

They play in Ot­tawa Satur­day and Kingston Sun­day, while Ot­tawa and North Bay both have three games on their sched­ules.

That means the Bull­dogs will clinch in the fol­low­ing sce­nar­ios:

They win two games and ei­ther North Bay or Ot­tawa lose two in

reg­u­la­tion

They win one game and ei­ther North Bay or Ot­tawa lose three in reg­u­la­tion

They lose two games in ex­tra time and ei­ther North Bay or Ot­tawa lose three in reg­u­la­tion

They win one game and lose one in ex­tra time and ei­ther North Bay or Ot­tawa lose three in reg­u­la­tion

They win one game and lose one in ex­tra time and ei­ther North Bay or Ot­tawa lose two games in reg­u­la­tion and one in ex­tra time

Al­ter­na­tively, it’s im­pos­si­ble for the Bull­dogs to clinch this week­end if they rack up two reg­u­la­tion losses.

Be­tween North Bay and Ot­tawa, the Bat­tal­ion likely have the tougher sched­ule with games in Flint Fri­day, Sag­i­naw Satur­day and Sault Ste. Marie Sun­day. The 67’s host Oshawa, Hamil­ton and Ni­a­gara in the same 48hour span.

The Bull­dogs go into Ot­tawa on a six-game win streak bol­stered by a huge 8-3 ef­fort in Bar­rie Thurs­day. They’re two points up on Kingston, which starts the week­end in fifth place. At Ot­tawa Satur­day, 2 p.m. The sto­ry­line: The 67’s go into the week­end tied for eighth spot in the East­ern Con­fer­ence and cold — they’ve lost their last seven straight and have just a hand­ful of wins since Christ­mas

Player to watch: Rus­sian im­port Ar­tur Tyan­ulin is tops on the team in scor­ing and has points in each of his last five games

No­table alumni: De­nis Potvin, Dar­ren Pang, Gary Roberts, Bobby Smith Hamil­ton con­nec­tion: None At Kingston Sun­day, 2 p.m. The sto­ry­line: The fifth-place Fronts have been up and down over their past 10 games, with five wins and five losses, in­clud­ing one in OT

Player to watch: Jeremy Helvig al­ways gives Kingston a chance against the Bull­dogs — in three tilts with Hamil­ton this sea­son, he has a 2.3 3 goal­sagainst av­er­age, a 0.919 save per­cent­age and a win

No­table alumni: Paul Cof­fey, Drake Bere­howsky, Kirk Muller, Mike Smith

Hamil­ton con­nec­tion: None

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