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On the right track

Wednesday, 29.04.2009 / 2:00 PM / News
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On the right track
David Desharnais
MONTREAL – Back in October, it was hard to know what to expect of the 2008-09 Hamilton Bulldogs, with many rookies and new faces among them.  Nearly seven months later, despite an early playoff exit, the club has shown more bite than anyone could have anticipated.

Not only did the Habs’ farm team record the second-highest points total in franchise history but they did so by deciding all but four games in regulation.  They also rebounded well from losses, never enduring a losing streak of more than three games all year long, and closed out the regular portion of the campaign on a season-high five-game winning streak.

Individually, four players reached or surpassed the 20-goal mark while two others were knocking at the door. All but one regular (minimum 25 games played) completed the campaign on the positive side of the plus-minus differential, including 11 players in double digits in that category.

Here’s a look at some of the notables from the Bulldogs’ season:

David Desharnais: The diminutive center had a solid first year in the AHL, amassing 58 points in 77 games. That total earned him a second-place tie in team scoring with teammate and fellow freshman Ben Maxwell and also saw the pair sit together in third among all league rookies. He also efficient with the puck, with 24 of his 97 shots finding the back of the net, a success rate of nearly 25% that led all Bulldogs.

Ben Maxwell: Hampered by injuries in the seasons preceding his professional debut, Maxwell was just hoping for a healthy campaign. He got that and more, impressing the Canadiens’ brass enough to earn a call-up in December as the big club battled with injuries.

Shawn Belle
Kyle Chipchura:
The 23-year-old established a career-high in goals and was just four points shy of his best point totals from two years ago, all in 29 less games than the 2006-07 season. Often pitted against his opponent’s best players, Chipchura excelled in his role, earning a team-best plus-28 differential.

Shawn Belle: Acquired over the summer from the Minnesota Wild, Belle proved to be a reliable addition to the Bulldogs’ blue line, posting a defense-best plus-19 while chipping in with 13 points in 60 games.

Mathieu Carle: Yannick Weber got the brunt of the attention among Hamilton’s offensive rearguards but Carle enjoyed a five-point increase on the scoresheet in his sophomore season, despite appearing in five less games. He also upped his defensive abilities, with a plus-10 rating.

Cedrick Desjardins: Coming into the season, he knew he’d play second fiddle to free agent acquisition Marc Denis. Despite his backup role, Desjardins came through when called upon, going 16-12-0 in 30 appearances – including an 8-2 run in his final 10 outings - while recording four shutouts.

Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com

See also:
Previous Bulldogs report