By: Hamilton Bulldogs
06/07/2013 7:11 AM -
HAMILTON 2 HERSHEY 1
HAMILTON, ON – With a 2-1 win over the Hershey Bears in Game 5 on Thursday night at Copps Coliseum, the Hamilton Bulldogs won the best-of-seven series 4-1 and took home their first Calder Cup Championship. Ajay Baines scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period and Bulldogs rookie netminder Carey Price was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as Playoff MVP for the 2007 Calder Cup playoffs.
After a scoreless opening period, Hamilton struck first for the fifth time in as many games in the series when Maxim Lapierre banged home his sixth goal of the post–season at 14:37 of the middle stanza. Andre Benoit drew the lone assist on the goal.
The Bears pulled even at 18:42 of the second period Jakub Klepis scored his 7th goal of the playoffs. Dave Steckel and Mike Green earned assists on Hershey’s lone tally of the game.
The Bulldogs took a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish when Baines scored the eventual Calder Cup winning goal shorthanded at 9:33 of the final frame. Baines converted a pass from Lapierre on a 2-on-1 brake to give the ‘Dogs a 2-1 lead.
Between the pipes, Price made 29 saves on 30 shots to earn the win for the Bulldogs, while Cassivi turned aside 24 of 26 shots in a losing effort for the Bears.
Price becomes the third goaltender in AHL history, and the first since Patrick Roy in 1985, to lead his team to a Calder Cup title as a teenager. It's the culmination of a season in which the Williams Lake, B.C., native was named the tournament MVP for Canada at the 2007 World Junior Championships and the outstanding goaltender in the Canadian Hockey League.
Don Lever, 20 years removed from winning the Calder Cup as a player for the Rochester Americans, earned his first AHL title as a head coach as the Bulldogs captured the championship in their third trip to the Finals. Hamilton was the lower seed in each round but never trailed in any of its four series, defeating Rochester (4-2), Manitoba (4-2) and Chicago (4-1) before ousting the defending Calder Cup champs from Hershey.
Hamilton's victory brings the curtain down on the AHL's 71st season. In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 83 percent of today's NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and this season marked the sixth consecutive year in which more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games across North America.
Fans can join the Bulldogs tomorrow when HECFI and The City of Hamilton host a Civic Reception on Friday, June 8th at 12:00 p.m. at City Hall in honour of the Calder Cup Champions. The reception will take place directly in front of City Hall and will be hosted by Derek Wills and Al Craig. The reception will include a presentation of civic awards to individual players, coaches, training staff as well as the unveiling of the Bulldogs Championship banner.
This event is open to all fans and there will be food and beverage available to all who attend. Do not miss your opportunity to show your support and congratulate your hometown Hamilton Bulldogs for their fantastic season.