Bulldogs on the brink … of a playoff berth
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
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