EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Hamilton Bulldogs vs. Binghamton Senators
In game one the Binghamton Senators traveled to Canada to take on the Hamilton Bulldogs. The first period the two teams went scoreless, and the Bulldogs broke free in the second period for five goals, while keeping the Senators off the scoreboard. In the third period the Senators scored the only goal of the period.
The Bulldogs continued their winning streak in game two. Hamilton scored the only goal of the first period, while each team scored one goal in the second period. Neither team was able to score and the Bulldogs took a two game lead in the best of seven series.
The two teams traveled to Binghamton, NY for game three, and the visiting Bulldogs, again scored the only goal of the first period. In the second period each team lit the lamp twice. The Bulldogs scored the first goal of the third period to take a two goal lead, but this would not be enough as the Senators scored four goals in the final period and won the game by the score of 6-4.
The Bulldogs showed that they were beaten in one game but not in the series when they came out in game four and scored the first two goals of the opening period, the Senators cut the lead in half before the end of the first period by scoring one goal. In the second period the Bulldogs continued their dominance and added two more goals to their lead. The third period saw each team score two goals, and the Bulldogs took a 3-1 series lead by winning the game by a final score of 6-3.
The Hamilton Bulldogs entered game five with a mission, the mission was to show the Western Conference that they were going to be the team to beat. Hamilton scored twice in the opening period while keeping the Senators from scoring. In the second period the Senators scored the first goal, but the Bulldogs added two more goals before the end of the period to take a 4-1 lead. The Bulldogs continued their dominance and scored the first two goals of the third period before the Senators scored. Hamilton scored another goal, before allowing the Senators to score their last goal of the series. The Bulldogs added an insurance goal, and won the game by a finals core of 8-3, and won the series 4-1.
STANDOUT PLAYERS – Right Wing Brad Smyth of the Binghamton Senators scored four goals, one assists for five points in five games. Right Wing Jason Ward of the Hamilton Bulldogs scored six goals, three assists for nine points in five games, and scored the game winning goals in games one and two.
Houston Aeros vs. Grand Rapids Griffins
Game one in the west was up for grabs, as both teams scored one goal in the first period. In the second period the Aeros scored the only goal, and the Griffins scored their second goal late in the third period to tie the game 2-2. The overtime lasted under six minutes before the Aeros won the game on a goal by Tony Tuzzolino.
In game two the Aeros scored the only goal in the first period, and the Griffins scored the only goal in the second period. The Griffins continued their scoring and their defense in the third period as they scored two goals and didn’t allow any in their own net. With the 3-1 win the Griffins tied the series at 1-1.
For game three the teams traveled down to Houston Texas, and this would be another low scoring game. This game would see all the scoring in the first period, with Houston scoring the first and third goals and the Griffins scoring the second goal. With the win the Aeros took a 2-1 series lead.
The final score in game four would be the same as the score in game three, but in this game there was no scoring in the first period. The two teams each scored on goal in the second period, and the Aeros scored the only goal in the third period to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
The Griffins were looking for the win to send the series back to Michigan and extend their season. The Griffins cored the first goal of the game, but allowed three Aeros goals before the end of the first period. In the second period the Griffins scored the only goal of the period to cut the Aeros lead to one goal. In the third period the Griffins cored twice to take the lead, but the Aeros tied the game with just over five minutes left in regulation. The two teams were scoreless in the first overtime, and with under seven minutes into the second overtime time Stacey Roest scored to send the series back north with the Aeros leading 3-2.
Game six saw the two teams go scoreless in the first, and the Aeros scored the only goal in the second period. The Griffins tied the game in the third period with under three minutes left to play. For the second time in as many games the two teams would play an extra period, but this time the Griffins only needed 5:12 until Mark Mowers would scored and tie the series 3-3 and force a seventh and deciding game.
This is a winner take all game with the winner advancing to the Calder Cup Finals and the loser going home. The two teams continued their low scoring even matched contests with a scoreless first period. The Aeros scored the first goal of the game in the second period, and didn’t allow the Griffins to score. The third period saw the Aeros tale a two goal lead. The Griffins scored one goal, but it was to little to late and the Aeros won the series 4-3.
STANDOUT PLAYERS – Goaltender Marc Lamothe of the Grand Rapids Griffins stopped 207 of 222 Houston shots, won three games, and played 457 minutes 16 seconds in seven games. Center Marc Cavosie of the Houston Aeros scored two goals, three assists, five points in seven games. Cavosie scored the series win goal in game seven.
CALDER CUP FINALS
Hamilton Bulldogs vs. Houston Aeros
From Michigan the Houston Aeros traveled east over the boarder and into Canada to take on the Hamilton Bulldogs. Hamilton opened up the scoring in game one when Mike Komisarek scored a power play goal, with help from Jason Ward and Benoit Gratton at 1:58 of the first period.
Stephen Vailleux of the Aeros tied the game with less than two minutes left in the first period. Kyle Wanvig and Rickard Wallin picked up the assists on the goal, and the first period ended with the score tied 1-1.
The second period saw the two teams go scoreless. The Bulldogs were assessed two penalties, Nate Dicasmirro for holding the stick and Sylvain Blouin was penalized with a Boarding major. While on the five minute power play the Aeros Rickard Wallin was caught for a High Sticking minor.
Ex-Falcon Jean-Guy Trudel scored at the 7:25 mark of the third period to give the Aeros the lead for the first time in the game. Ratislov Pavlikovsky and Hnat Domenichelli picked up the assists. Johan Holmqvist stopped all 14 Bulldogs shots in the period to give the Aeros a 1-0 series lead.
With 6,312 in attendance the Houston Aeros were 0 of 7 on the power play, and Johan Holmqvist stopped 35 of 36 shots to improve his playoff record to 12-5. The Hamilton Bulldogs were 1 of 4 on the power play, and Ty Conklin stopped 37 of 39 Aeros shots to drop his playoff record to 6-3.
Game two saw the Bulldogs score the first goal of the game again, this time off of Michael Ryder scored on the power play with help from Jarrett Stoll and Marc-Andre Bergeron. Domenichelli scored to tie the game 1-1 with the assists going to Curtis Murphy and Trudel.
In the second period the Bulldogs had two power plays and were unable to score. The Aeros were also scoreless but they didn’t have any power play attempts in the period. The two teams were again scoreless in the third period and the game would go into overtime with the score tied 1-1.
The game would now turn into a marathon with a scoreless first overtime period. The second and third overtimes would also be scoreless. The Bulldogs were unable to score on three power play attempts over the three overtime periods, while the Aeros were unable to score on five power plays in the three overtimes.
In the fourth overtime period and the seventh period of the game neither team had a power play, but the Bulldogs finally scored at the 14:56 mark of the period. Ryder scored his second goal of the game and the first goal in 124 minutes 41 seconds. Marcel Hossa and Ron Hainsey picked up the assists to win the game for the Bulldogs and tie the best of seven series at 1-1.
10,419 people watched the marathon game, and saw the Houston Aeros go 1 of 9 on the power play, and Johan Holmqvist stop 79 of 81 shots to drop his playoff record to 12-6. The Hamilton Bulldogs were 1 of 8 on the power play and Ty Conklin stopped 83 of 84 shots to improve his playoff record to 7-3.