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A successful season, one record at a time

by Shane McAdam || AHL On The Beat Archive 

The 2009-10 edition of the Hamilton Bulldogs has enjoyed more than its fair share of success thus far this season, so much so that officials with Guinness World Records would probably have a tough time keeping up with all the team records that have already been broken, or are on pace to be broken by season’s end.

Indeed, if there were a record for most broken records in a single season, this year’s Bulldogs would definitely be in the running.

The manner in which the Bulldogs began the 2009-10 season can now be seen as a precursor for what was to come in the months that followed. The ’Dogs started the year off by earning at least a point in each of the team’s first 11 games – a new franchise record.

And the phrase “a new franchise record” would soon become all too familiar with Hamilton as the season moved forward.

Let us begin with what many would consider the most important individual record for a hockey team – points scored. The most points ever scored by a Bulldogs player in a single season is 77, by Jason Chimera in 2001-02. There are currently two Hamilton players who are threatening to surpass that total.

Center Brock Trotter currently has 28 goals and 34 assists for 62 points in 60 games played. With 16 games left on the schedule, if Trotter is able to keep up his point-per-game pace, he will finish the season with 78 points, a new Bulldogs record.

Center David Desharnais is nipping at the heels of this record as well, as the Quebec native has registered 20 goals and 38 assists for 58 points in just 45 games played. If Desharnais can maintain his season long scoring pace, he will also finish the season with 78 points.

Bulldogs blueliners have also hopped on the record-breaking bandwagon. Rookie defenseman P.K. Subban has wasted little time in making sure his name is etched in the Hamilton record books. The Toronto native has already surpassed the franchise record for points scored in a single campaign by a Bulldogs rearguard, currently sitting with 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points. The previous mark of 44 points scored in a single season was shared between Sven Butenschon (2001-02) and Yannick Weber (2008-09).

Subban’s current total of nine power-play goals is one shy of the franchise mark held by Weber, who scored 10 goals with the man advantage during the 2008-09 season.

Subban is also on pace to break the team’s franchise record for plus/minus, which sits at plus-34 by Marc-Andre Bergeron (2002-03). Subban currently has a plus-38 rating, second in the entire AHL.

Not to be upstaged by his young teammate, Bulldogs defenseman Andre Benoit has set two all-time franchise records of his own. Benoit currently has five goals on the year, giving him a total of 22 for his career, which is one better than the previous record for career goals by a ’Dogs rearguard (Ron Hainsey, 21). Benoit has also registered 24 assists this season, giving him 29 points and a total of 86 points in his Bulldogs career, one point better than the previous all-time leader for points scored by a Bulldogs defenseman, Dan Jancevski (85).

The ’Dogs have also seen plenty of success between the pipes this season. In his second full season with Hamilton, Cedrick Desjardins has taken his play to another level, and has the records to prove it. From Nov. 25 to Dec. 9, Desjardins went 212 minutes and 37 seconds without letting a single puck get past him, over a span that included five games. The Edmundston, N.B., native shattered the previous franchise mark for shutout streak by a goaltender of 158:09, held by Olivier Michaud (2003-04).

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Desjardins was just 37 minutes and 15 seconds away from breaking the all-time AHL record for shutout streak by a goaltender set by Hall of Fame goaltender Johnny Bower during the 1956-57 season with the Providence Reds.

Overall, Desjardins has posted six shutouts this season, which ties him with Jaroslav Halak (2006-07) for the most ever by a Bulldogs netminder in a single campaign. Desjardins has also recorded 24 wins thus far this season, four shy of Yann Danis’s mark of 28 during the 2004-05 season. With 16 contests remaining on the team’s schedule, this record is in danger of falling.

Between Desjardins and Curtis Sanford, Hamilton goaltenders have posted six shutouts on the road this season, one better than the previous franchise record of five set during the 2002-03 season. Hamilton’s tandem is just one shutout shy of the overall record of 12 whitewashes set in 2002-03.

With so many individual records being broken this season, it should come as no surprise that long-standing Bulldogs team records are at risk of being eclipsed as well. The Bulldogs have tied the record for most hat tricks scored in a single campaign with five, equaling the mark set during the 1997-98 season. Forwards Mathieu Darche, Brock Trotter, Tom Pyatt, David Desharnais and J.T. Wyman have each potted a trio of markers in one game this season.

Hamilton was victorious every time a ’Dogs player scored a hat trick, contributing to the 42 wins celebrated by the Bulldogs so far this season. And with 16 games left to play, the franchise record of 49 wins in a single season, set in 2002-03 and matched in 2008-09, is in jeopardy of being surpassed.

Twenty-one of the Bulldogs’ 42 wins have come on the road, and with nine away games left on the schedule, the franchise record of 25 road victories is also in danger.

The most regular-season points ever recorded by a Bulldogs team sits at 110 (2002-03). This year’s club has managed 92 points with 16 games remaining. If Hamilton can continue to win at their season-long pace, this record will also be overtaken.

The Bulldogs’ success this season has been noteworthy to say the least. The team has sat atop the North Division and Western Conference standings for the majority of the season despite the unavoidable compromises an AHL team must make in dealing with injuries and call-ups. An AHL-high 17 players have suited up for both the Bulldogs and their NHL affiliate, the Montreal Canadiens, this season.

The phrase “a new franchise record” is becoming almost commonplace for the Hamilton Bulldogs of 2009-10. But with the Calder Cup Playoffs just around the corner, players, coaches and team personnel alike realize that these records will mean little unless the team can accomplish something more. The ultimate goal – a second Calder Cup championship in four seasons – is well within the grasp of this record-setting squad. These records indicate that this year’s edition is one of the best Bulldogs teams ever assembled, something opposing teams will undoubtedly have to keep in mind as the year moves forward.