HAMILTON 8, HOUSTON 1
With its season on the line, Hamilton erupted for an AHL postseason-high eight goals en route to a dominating 8-1 win over visiting Houston on Wednesday at Copps Coliseum in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Bulldogs, who held a commanding 40-15 edge in shots on goal en route to the victory, cut their series deficit to 3-1 and will try to send the series back to Texas when Game 5 goes on Friday night.
Ryan Russell staked Hamilton to a quick 1-0 lead when he scored shorthanded only 1:03 into the game, but Houston rookie Casey Wellman answered 1:22 later while his club was still on the same power play.
Aaron Palushaj put the Bulldogs back on top at 15:09 of the first period, sparking a string of seven unanswered goals by the home team to close the game. The eight-goal total came from a Hamilton squad which had combined for just five goals in the first three games of the series.
Palushaj finished with a goal and two assists and was one of five Hamilton skaters to post multiple points on the night.
Dustin Boyd, held scoreless in the first three games of this series, broke out with a two-goal, two-assist effort and was plus-5 to lead the Bulldogs’ attack, tallying his first goals since ending the division finals with a triple-overtime marker in Game 7 vs. Manitoba.
Nigel Dawes added his 11th and 12th postseason goals, and J.T. Wyman and rookie Gabriel Dumont also found the back of the net. Forward Ryan White and defenseman Kyle Klubertanz chipped in two assists apiece for Hamilton, and rearguard Frederic St. Denis joined Boyd in posting a plus-5 rating.
Bulldogs goaltender Drew MacIntyre was rarely tested but stopped 14 of 15 shots between the pipes.
Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. N1-Hamilton Bulldogs
Game 1 – Fri., May 13 – HOUSTON 2, Hamilton 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 15 – HOUSTON 3, Hamilton 2
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – Houston 3, HAMILTON 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – HAMILTON 8, Houston 1
Game 5 – Fri., May 20 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 22 – Hamilton at Houston, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Hamilton at Houston, 8:05