Bulldogs take control with shutout win

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Curtis Sanford pitched a 23-save shutout and defenseman Shawn Belle assisted on two of Hamilton’s three goals as the Bulldogs blanked Texas by a 3-0 count on Saturday at Cedar Park Center in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Bulldogs grabbed a 3-2 lead in the series and can advance to a Calder Cup Finals date with Hershey by winning Game 6 at home on Monday. If necessary, Game 7 would be Wednesday in Hamilton.

Sanford (5-2) bounced back from consecutive shots to record his second shutout of the postseason, making eight saves in the first period, five in the second, and 10 in the third.

Ryan Russell provided all the offense Sanford would need when he scored on the power play 13:22 into the contest, with Belle and David Desharnais picked up the assists.

Mike Glumac provided insurance for Hamilton early in the second period, tallying his team-best 11th goal of the playoffs. Grant Stevenson and defenseman Alex Henry earned helpers.

Desharnais then rounded out the game’s scoring at 15:33 of the second frame, and Aaron Palushaj joined Belle in recording an assist on the marker.

With his fifth multiple-point performance of the postseason, Desharnais extended his scoring streak to seven games (5-6-11) and moved into a three-way tie for second in the AHL with 21 points (9-12-21) in 17 playoff games overall.

Texas rookie Jamie Benn also shows 21 points (13-8-21) in the playoffs but was held off the scoresheet on Saturday after he had tallied both goals in the Stars’ 2-1 overtime win in Friday’s Game 4.

Texas suffered just its second loss at Cedar Park Center this postseason (6-2), while the Bulldogs improved to 4-5 on the road.

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Fri., May 14 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Sun., May 16 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 19 – TEXAS 5, Hamilton 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 21 – TEXAS 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., May 22 – Hamilton 3, TEXAS 0
Game 6 – Mon., May 24 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 7 – Wed., May 26 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30