The Hamilton Bulldogs had their Disney story put to a halt last night in Houston. A controversial goal and a missed call in the dying seconds of the game ended the Bulldogs season. The referees misjudged a play with just 1:13 remaining in the final period in game 7 of the Western Finals. They also failed to see the covering of the puck in the blue paint with just a few seconds remaining that would have given the Bulldogs an automatic penalty shot to give them a chance to take the game to overtime.
If there was anything they would like to change, it would have been the 9 seconds where the Aeros scored two consecutive goals. It was so quick that the announcer was interrupted during his announcement of the first goal and had to repeat the first goal over again.
The comeback boys never gave up, and replied back with two goals of their own in 4:08 minutes. Dustin Boyd scored his 5th of the playoffs when his shot from the face-off circle beat Hackett over his shoulder. Mathieu Carle got the second goal for the ‘Dogs on the power-play.
Houston retook the lead early in the second period. Casey Wellman got his second goal of the night. The ‘Dogs power play unit came back on duty at 8:52 of the second frame. Aaron Palushaj continued his point per game performance in the playoffs with his 7th of the playoffs. Nigel Dawes picked up his second assist of the game.
In the deciding period, both teams were in full cylinders. The referees decided to put their whistles away as no penalties were called in the final period. The ‘Dogs had their chances and so did the Aeros but it was the Aeros who had the bounces and the luck. Patrick O’Sullivan skated across the blue line with the puck before maneuvering the puck around a sliding Frederic St. Denis. He threw the puck on net, where the Chad Rau was whacking at the puck from the side of the net. Drew MacIntyre was hugging the goal post with the puck under him, at the same moment Jon DiSalvatore was skating towards the net before tripping into Drew MacIntyre. Drew lost his balance and fell past the goal line. The referee said the goal was good and all six Bulldogs were surrounding the ref arguing his call. The Bulldogs ouldn’t believe it.
"I don't know what they expect the goalie to do there. My glove was on top. It wasn't on top for long. I'll give them that. You can't just run a goalie in like that. That's unfortunate. That's two good refs. I got a lot of respect for them. It's just unfortunate."said MacIntyre.
With no video replay, the referees couldn’t overturn their call and the game had to go on. Bulldogs took that rage and used it to get a goal of their own, or at least tried to. A frantic scrum ensued in the goal crease of Hackett. At first the ‘Dogs were celebrating thinking it was a goal but the goal light never went on.
The ‘Dogs went at it again, and were back in the blue paint but Hackett kept his ground. One of the defenders had placed his hand over the puck in the blue paint but the referees did not see it. It would have given the ‘Dogs a penalty shot with just 2 seconds remaining. Once again, bad call and the season was over.
"I think it's a combination (of disappointment and anger), but mainly dead silence," Cunneyworth said of the mood in the locker room following the game. "Nobody was losing their composure. Just dead silence. Almost disbelief. We felt that we should have had seconds on the clock and a penalty shot due to Falk grabbing the puck in the crease."
Just like last year, the ‘Dogs ended their season in game 7 of the Western Finals. This time around it was more painful, after the way they came back into the series and a few missed calls could have had the Bulldogs a chance to get themselves into the history books.
This season has been a good test for the young future Habs. Lots of positives can be taken from this run to the Calder Cup. Aaron Palushaj once again continued his strong post season performance. Look forward to see him getting into the big club next season. Nigel Dawes and Drew MacIntyre who came into the organization at the trade deadline were huge factors for the ‘Dogs since day 1. The Canadiens might not have a lot of depth in their farm club but one thing that they do have is that they never give up.