Fresh off establishing a single-season franchise record with 51 wins and 107 points, the Hamilton Bulldogs open what many hockey pundits believe could be a lengthy playoff run Thursday night.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at FirstOntario Centre.
Hamilton head coach Jay McKee says cracking the 50-win plateau was great, but it doesn’t mean much at this time of the year.
“Everything is reset here when you get to the playoffs,” said McKee. “The players took a lot of pride in the way that they worked over the season and the different accomplishments that were made but those things are all awash now and we start season two.”
The Bulldogs (51-12-3-2) are riding an OHL-best 10-game winning streak into Thursday’s contest with two of those victories coming against the eighth place Petes (29-33-5-1).
Despite winning six of their eight meetings this season against Peterborough, McKee says they will not take their opponents lightly.
“It’s going to be a grind. We’re up against a very good hockey club in Peterborough, a team that we need to be on top of our game in order to beat and that’s where the focus is right now.”
Hamilton outscored the Petes 47-26 in their eight-game season series including two outings in which the Dogs scored 10 goals.
Bulldogs’ forward Logan Morrison became just the second player in team history to reach the 100-point plateau with 34 goals and 66 assists and finished sixth in league scoring.
Defenceman Nathan Staios led all OHL blueliners with 66 points (15 goals, 51 assists) while goalie Marco Costantini established the team record with an OHL-leading 2.32 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Costantini also compiled a league best six shutouts.
The Bulldogs are the favourites to represent the Ontario Hockey League at the Memorial Cup championship tournament from June 20-29 in Saint John, New Brunswick.
OHL playoffs, first-round series
Hamilton vs. Peterborough
Game 1, Thurs., April 21 at Hamilton, 7:00
Game 2, Mon., April 25 at Hamilton 7:00
Game 3, Wed., April 27 at Peterborough 7:00
Game 4, Thurs., April 28 at Peterborough 7:00
Game 5, Sat., April 30 at Hamilton 7:00 *
Game 6, Mon., May 2 at Peterborough 7:00 *
Game 7, Wed., May 4 at Hamilton 7:00 *
Head-to-head (2021-22 season)
Oct. 28 in Peterborough – Petes 4, Bulldogs 3
Nov. 12 in Hamilton – Bulldogs 4, Petes 2
Nov. 18 in Peterborough – Bulldogs 10, Petes 6
Dec. 17 in Hamilton – Bulldogs 10, Petes 5
Feb. 6 in Hamilton – Bulldogs 7, Petes 3
Mar. 15 in Peterborough – Petes 3, Bulldogs 1
Mar. 29 in Peterborough – Bulldogs 6, Petes 2
Apr. 3 in Hamilton – Bulldogs 6, Petes 1