It’s deja vu for the Hamilton Bulldogs as they open the 2019 OHL playoffs against the Ottawa 67’s — kind of.
While it is the same opponent as last year’s, the circumstances are very different.
The defending OHL champions finished the 2017-18 regular season as the top team in the Eastern Conference with 93 points — 24 points better than Ottawa. The Bulldogs were the favourites and showed why, dismantling the 67’s in just five games in a best-of-seven series. The Dogs also outscored Ottawa 27-11.
This year’s edition of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal projects to be much different. The 67’s surged to the top of the conference in a dominant 106-point campaign. Hamilton, meanwhile, limps into the postseason, having with 63 points and in eighth place.
The Bulldogs also finished winless in five meetings against Ottawa this season (0-4-1-0). The good news for Hamilton, though, is that aside from an 8-1 blowout loss last month, the games were close.
Head-to-head in 2018-19
Ottawa 67’s (5) v Hamilton Bulldogs (3)
Hamilton Bulldogs (1) v Ottawa 67’s (8)
Ottawa 67’s (4) v Hamilton Bulldogs (3)
Hamilton Bulldogs (3) v Ottawa 67’s (5)
Ottawa 67’s (4) v Hamilton Bulldogs (3) – OT
Not only do the 67’s have the second-most potent offence (4.35 goals per game) in the OHL, they also sport a league-leading goals against of 2.69 per game. Hamilton, on the other hand, gave up an average of 4.16 goals per game.
The 67’s are led by the OHL’s top scorer, Tye Felhaber (59 goals, 50 assists, 109 points in 68 games). His breakout season led to an NHL contract with the Dallas Stars in February.
Ottawa also boasts NHL talent in goal as Michael DiPietro started for the Vancouver Canucks this season.
Outside of pro-bound Arthur Kaliyev (51 goals, 51 assists, 102 points in 67 games), Hamilton has gotten it done by committee this season after the club lost more than a dozen regulars from their title campaign.
The series gets underway in Ottawa with a pair of games this weekend before shifting to FirstOntario Centre next week.
1. Fri Mar 22 – Hamilton Bulldogs @ Ottawa 67’s
2. Sun Mar 24 – Hamilton Bulldogs @ Ottawa 67’s
3. Tue Mar 26 – Ottawa 67’s @ Hamilton Bulldogs
4. Wed Mar 27 – Ottawa 67’s @ Hamilton Bulldogs
5. Fri Mar 29 – Hamilton Bulldogs @ OTT
6. Sun Mar 31 – Ottawa 67’s @ Hamilton Bulldogs
7. Tue Apr 02 – Hamilton Bulldogs @ Ottawa 67’s
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