affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs continue to play some good hockey, but their
first place lead has been narrowed, as they have been off for most of the last
week. The Dogs now hold a four-point lead in their division, as they get ready
to play six games over the next nine days.
Leading the way for the Dogs on offense has been Josef Balej, but they
will need to find another way to score, as Balej has been recently called up to
the Montreal Canadiens. Also out of the
lineup is J-F Damphousse, who had surgery on his thumb and is expected to be
out for 6-8 weeks, and recalled to Tampa Bay, Alex Svitov leaves the Dogs short
down the middle with captain Gratton injured in Montreal.
Josef Balej, RW
– Balej is the Dogs leading scorer, and is currently third overall in league
scoring, as the second year pro is enjoying a breakout season as he leads the
Dogs in just about every area of offense.
His +19 leads the entire AHL, as he has shown he can play in all ends of
the rink, in all situations, which gives him a lot of ice time. Balej has just been called up to the Habs, a
reward for his recent success, as he has exploded offensively as he now has
more then double the amount of goals then any other Hab prospect. Balej, along with Plekanec, have formed an
impressive duo, as they have been a major reason for the team’s success and
have a combined nine game winning goals between them.
Tomas Plekanec, C
— Plekanec has been returned to the team, after seeing some limited ice time
with the Habs, where he dressed for two games.
Another reward for his efforts, Plekanec has been a one of the top
players and main reasons for the Dogs success.
He picked up right where he left off before the call up, with two
assists in his first game back. Plekanec leads all Hab prospects in penalty
minutes even though he was called up for two weeks.
Francois Beauchemin, LD
— Beauchemin is again the Dogs top defensemen, as he has been solid all
season, while cutting down on his trips to the penalty box. Earlier in the season, Beauchemin was paired
with Mike Komisarek but with his call up, Ron Hainsey has taken his spot along
side the now AHL veteran. Both pairings
have been the Dogs top pairing over their select games, a testament to the
steady play of Beauchemin, who is currently second on the team in shots.
Chris Higgins, C/LW
— Higgins has slowed down a bit, as the rookie adjusts to the much longer
schedule of the American League, but he is still getting good chances while
being solid in his own end. Playing a very intelligent and well-disciplined
game, Higgins has spent the least amount of time in the penalty box for all the
prospects, with only eight minutes so far.
Alex Perezhogin, RW
— After a somewhat slow start to his first season in North America, Perezhogin
has been on fire as of late, as he is finding the back of the net with more
consistency. The former first round
pick is tied in rookie scoring for the Dogs with another first round pick in
Chris Higgins, which should give former GM Andre Savard a smile. With the help of fellow Russian Alex Svitov,
Perezhogin seems to be adapting well to his new surroundings, as he is third on
the team in shots on goal showing he will generate offense when he’s on the
Ron Hainsey, RD
— Hainsey has played some solid hockey while down the road in Hamilton, as he
is second on the team in plus/minus and leads all defensemen as well. Also he has been able to help the Dogs power
play, as he moves the puck well, and likes to pinch in on the rush well
possible. Hainsey has improved his play
in his own end, but could stand to be more physical in front of the net and in
the corners. If he’s not called up,
expect him to be a major factor in the teams success should they go far in the
Marcel Hossa, LW — Goals
have been hard to come by for the younger Hossa, as he has lit the lamp only
two times so far since being demoted to Hamilton. But with a shot like his, it’s only a matter of time before he
picks up his touch again. Coach Jarvis
seems to have confidence him Hossa, as he has shown some hard work for the most
part, just can’t seem to find the back of the net and not for lack of chances
as he is getting over two shots a game.
RW — Has had some trouble producing on offense, as the young rookie sees
less ice time but has shown a strong work ethic and solid physical game in the
games he’s played.
Duncan Milroy, RW —
With the limited ice time Milroy has seen, he was still able to get his first
professional goal, as he’s been getting some chances, just has had trouble with
them going in.
Andrew Archer, D
— After missing camp and the start of the season, the rookie Archer has had
some difficulty finding good ice time, as he adapts to the higher level of
Olivier Michaud, G
— With an injury to veteran goalie Eric Fichaud, the rookie Michaud was called
up and put into action when J-F Damphousse injured his thumb. In just his third game ever in the American
League, Michaud was able to get his first win and he did it big by getting back
to back shutouts.
M-A Thinel, RW — After
being sent down from the Dogs early on this year, Thinel is the leading scorer
among Habs prospects in the ECHL. He is
currently second on his team in assists, and third on the team in points, even
though he missed 13 games while with Hamilton. Thinel is a RFA this summer, so
he will need a strong showing with Columbus if he is to remain in the
organization. Producing on offense is one way to earn another contract.
Christian Larrivee, LW — Larrivee has been able to dress for every
game, which should help him gain experience in his first year as a professional
hockey player. The problem for Larrivee has been in his own end, as he has the
second worst plus/minus on the team by a wide margin with a -12.
Matt Shasby, D — Shasby is
also in his first season of professional hockey, as he adjusts to the more
physical ECHL, versus his days of playing in the NCAA. With the team struggling at the start of the
season, Shasby had a tough time in his own end, but with the team finding much
more success, he has been able to greatly improve his plus/minus as he has now
worked his way back to even after being in the negative double digits.
Jerome Marois, LW — After
being demoted from Hamilton, Marois was loaned to the Long Beach Ice Dogs,
where he looked to show management he’s worth keeping in the organization, as
he is in his final contract season this year.
After a strong start to the season, Marois has had trouble getting in
the lineup. He could be injured as he
is still on the active roster, but hasn’t played in some time now.
* Mike Komisarek