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Bulldogs keepers clinch Holmes Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has announced that Hamilton Bulldogs goaltenders Cedrick Desjardins and Curtis Sanford have won the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award for the 2009-10 season. Since 1972, the award has been presented to the goaltenders on the team which allows the fewest goals in the regular season.

Hamilton surrendered just 182 goals in 2009-10 and finished its regular-season schedule on Saturday evening with a record of 52-17-3-8, setting franchise records for wins and points (115) in a season. The Bulldogs captured their first North Division title since 2004 and finished with the best mark in the Western Conference. Hamilton will open its division semifinal Calder Cup Playoff series against either Manitoba or Abbotsford on Thursday night.

Desjardins, a Second Team AHL All-Star this season, ranks first in the AHL in goals-against average (2.00), tied for fifth in save percentage (.919) and second in shutouts (six) while going 29-9-4 in 47 appearances. Sanford played 41 games and went 23-11-3, good for third in the league with a 2.13 GAA to go with his .916 save percentage and four shutouts. The pair also shared two shutouts, giving Hamilton 12 as a team for the year.

The Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award, which was first awarded in 1948 to the goaltender with the best goals-against average in the AHL, is named for Hockey Hall of Famer Harry “Hap” Holmes, a prominent figure in early professional hockey and an outstanding goaltender of his time. Previous winners or co-winners of the award include Gil Mayer (1951, ’53, ’54, ’55, ’56), Johnny Bower (1957, ’58), Marcel Paille (1961, ’62), Gerry Cheevers (1965), Gilles Villemure (1969, ’70), Pete Peeters (1979), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Olaf Kolzig (1994), Mike Dunham (1995), Manny Legace (1996), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1998), Martin Biron (1999), Joey MacDonald (2003), Jason LaBarbera (2005, 2007), Dany Sabourin (2006) and Cory Schneider (2009).

Currently in its 74th season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 58 million fans have attended AHL games across North America over the past nine years. The 2009-10 season ends on Sunday, and 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.