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Hamilton Bulldogs host Ottawa 67’s to begin playoff run

The Hamilton Bulldogs host the Ottawa 67's Thursday night to open the OHL playoffs.
The Hamilton Bulldogs host the Ottawa 67's Thursday night to open the OHL playoffs. Hamilton Bulldogs

The Hamilton Bulldogs host the Ottawa 67’s to open the OHL playoffs Thursday at 7 p.m. at FirstOntario Centre.

Hamilton won all five of their games against Ottawa in the regular season and outscored the 67’s 26-8.

Bulldogs head coach John Gruden is a big fan of his team’s depth going into the post-season, “I just like our depth, I like our character… it’s a tough matchup for our opposition.”

Gruden believes special teams will play a big part in the playoffs.

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“Our power-play is really, really working well. Our PK [penalty killing] is starting to get better now… we have to make sure that is a priority,” said Gruden.

The Dogs, who are the top seed in the Eastern Conference, finished 24 points ahead of eighth-place Ottawa in the OHL standings.

READ MORE: Hamilton Bulldogs making ‘win now’ moves in pursuit of Memorial Cup

But despite the statistical disparity, coach Gruden promised that his club will not take their opening-round opponent lightly while providing a glowing scouting report on the 67’s.

“They have one really good line. They’re very fast, they’re young, but they have nothing to lose. They’re going to be a fast team and a team that’s going to come out and play hard and fast, and so we have to be ready for it. Nothing is going to be handed to us.”

Gruden, whose Bulldogs racked up a franchise-best 93 points this season, believes last year’s first-round playoff exit against Kingston will serve his team well entering this post-season.

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He points to how the team played on the road, taking the first two games against the favoured Frontenacs on their home ice, before ultimately losing the series in seven games.

“We weren’t ready to win” last year, but the “three-and-a-half-hour bus ride of pure silence [from Kingston to Hamilton following their loss in Game 7] … I knew that was going to be the best thing for us moving forward.”

He added this year, his team is “ready for it.”

OHL Playoffs opening-round playoff schedule:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Hamilton Bulldogs (1) vs. Ottawa 67’s (8)
Game 1, Thurs., March 22 at Hamilton – 7 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 25 at Hamilton – 7:30 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Ottawa – 7 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 28 at Ottawa – 7 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., March 30 at Hamilton – 7 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Ottawa – 2 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Hamilton – 7 p.m.

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Barrie Colts (2) vs. Mississauga Steelheads (7)
Game 1, Thurs., March 22 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.
Game 2, Mon., March 26 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Mississauga – 7 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at Mississauga – 7 p.m.
Game 5, Sat., March 31 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Mississauga – 2 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Barrie – 7:30 p.m.

Kingston Frontenacs (3) vs. North Bay Battalion (6)
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Kingston – 7 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 25 at Kingston – 6 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at North Bay (in Sudbury) – 7 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at North Bay – 7 p.m.
Game 5, Sat., March 31 at Kingston – 7 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at North Bay – 7 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Kingston – 7 p.m.

Niagara IceDogs (4) vs. Oshawa Generals (5)
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Niagara – 7 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 25 at Niagara – 2 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at Oshawa – 7:05 p.m.
Game 5, Sat., March 31 at Niagara – 7 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Oshawa – 6:05 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Niagara – 7 p.m.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (1) vs. Saginaw Spirit (8)
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 25 at Sault Ste. Marie – 3 p.m.
Game 3, Mon., March 26 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 28 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., March 30 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.
Game 6, Sat., March 31 at Saginaw – 7:05 p.m.
Game 7, Mon., April 2 at Sault Ste. Marie – 7:07 p.m.

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Kitchener Rangers (2) vs. Guelph Storm (7)
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Kitchener – 7:30 p.m.
Game 2, Sun., March 25 at Kitchener – 7 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Guelph – 7 p.m.
Game 4, Wed., March 28 at Guelph – 7 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., March 30 at Kitchener – 7:30 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Guelph – 2 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Kitchener – 7 p.m.

Sarnia Sting (3) vs. Windsor Spitfires (6)
Game 1, Fri., March 23 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 24 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3, Tues., March 27 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at Windsor – 7:05 p.m.
Game 5, Fri., March 30 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.
Game 6, Sun., April 1 at Windsor – 2:05 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Sarnia – 7:05 p.m.

Owen Sound Attack (4) vs London Knights (5)
Game 1, Thurs., March 22 at Owen Sound – 7 p.m.
Game 2, Sat., March 24 at Owen Sound – 7:30 p.m.
Game 3, Mon., March 26 at London – 7 p.m.
Game 4, Thurs., March 29 at London – 7 p.m.
Game 5, Sat., March 31 at Owen Sound – 7:30 p.m.
Game 6, Mon., April 2 at London – 7 p.m.
Game 7, Tues., April 3 at Owen Sound – 7 p.m.

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