Bulldogs Report: First Impressions

By Jim Harnock

    With only nine players returning to the Hamilton Bulldogs
from last season, two of whom played fewer than five regular-season games
for the team in 01-02 (those two being C Mike Bishai and LW/C Nate DiCasmirro),
one would think that it would take some time for the team to mesh. 
Instead, the Bulldogs find themselves with a respectable 5-2 record and laying
claim to one of the leagues top goal-scorers (LW Jani Rita, tied for first
with five goals in five games) and the league’s top goaltender (Ty Conklin,
with a GAA of 1.67).
    While it’s always exciting to watch new players and scout
new prospects, having so many new names on the roster makes the writing of
my usually style of Bulldog Report somewhat difficult.  Quite honestly,
I haven’t seen enough of the new players to make anything more than “first
impression” reports.  So, let’s start with that and once I compile enough
notes to do more in-depth player profiles, I’ll be getting back to my usual
modus operandi.

The First Impressions

At 5’9” and 176 lbs, Salmelainen is the smallest member of the team, but
he makes up for his lack of stature by having the fastest feet on the team. 
He has great acceleration abilities.  Unfortunately, his size allows
him to be knocked around a lot on the ice, though to his credit, he battles
the best he can to keep the play going.

RW  Jozef BALEJ  57: 
Playing in his first professional season, Balej comes to Hamilton with impressive
junior numbers (51 goals, 41 assists in 65 games with Portland in the WHL). 
Much like Salmelainen, Balej appears to be getting pushed around quite a
bit, though at 6’1” and 187 lbs, he’s not quite so easily knocked off the
puck.  Hasn’t yet shown any concept of defence and even though that’s
never really been his job, he’ll need to do better to be successful in the
AHL and NHL, should he make it that far.

D  Mike KOMISAREK  55: 
Next to Jani Rita, Komisarek is perhaps the highest-profile Bulldog. 
One of the final cuts from the Canadiens training camp, Komisarek’s size
alone is impressive – 6’4”, 240 lbs.  He’s played adequately, but aside
from a couple big hits, hasn’t done anything to make himself stand out. 
I suppose in one way that’s a good thing – he hasn’t made any glaring mistakes,

D  Ales PISA  4:  Pisa
has all but been handed the #1 defenseman position with the departure of
Sven Butenschon (though Bobby Allen may argue that point) and based on last
year’s performance, I’m honestly surprised that Pisa is even on the Bulldogs
roster as I picked him to make the Oilers this season along with Kari Haakana. 
Pisa has developed a mean streak he didn’t seem to have last season – perhaps
grumpy about being sent back to the AHL – and is currently tied with C Jarret
Stoll for the team-lead in PIM with 12 in 5 games.

Other Notes

    Montreal property C Benoit Gratton was named team captain,
with Edmonton prospects RW Fernando Pisani and D Bobby Allen as his alternates.

    Edmonton prospect RW Michael Henrich is skating with the
team again after being off the ice for several weeks.  Henrich contracted
a nasty case of mononucleosis during training camp.

    Former Bulldog C Peter Sarno has signed a tryout contract
with the Espoo Blues in the SM Liiga, Finland, but has yet to play a regular-season
game for the team.

    Former Bulldog RW Kevin Brown is playing for the Agusta
Lynx of the ECHL, where he has 1 goal and 3 assists in five games

    Former Bulldog D Alex Henry, who had been playing for
the Oilers, was claimed off waivers by the Washington Capitals on October
24th, 2002.

    And finally, I’ve found a Hamilton Bulldogs connection
to the newest hockey league on the block.  The Orlando Seals of the
newly established Atlantic Coast Hockey League feature RW Joe Seroski, who
played four games for the Hamilton Bulldogs between 1997 and 1999, notching
a single goal.

Jim Harnock
Hockey’s Future, Hamilton