The Hamilton Bulldogs wrapped up an incredible season with an OHL Championship on Sunday afternoon.
Despite a 23-point difference between the two teams after the regular season, the Bulldogs put an end to Sault Ste. Marie’s magical season. After 55 wins in the regular season, the Greyhounds breezed through a round one sweep. After that, it was back-to-back seven game series that definitely wore them down for the OHL Championship series.
Hamilton Bulldogs win the 2018 OHL Championship
#OHLPlayoffs #SSMvsHAM @BulldogsOHL defeat Sault Ste. Marie to win the #OHLChampionship. 23 point difference in the regular season, a new record for "Biggest Upset" in the Final series dating back to 1987. OTT over PLY in 2001, PBO over GUE in 1996 was previous record, -16.
— Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) May 13, 2018
Conversely, the Hamilton Bulldogs quickly and confidently moved through the East. They worked their way through Ottawa, Niagara and Kingston in five games each. Then found themselves face-to-face with the team many had already anointed as OHL Champions. Hamilton became just the second team to win in the Soo during the playoffs, taking Game 1 in overtime, 4-3.
Everyone doubted this team. No one said they’d be here. The players believed and here they are now. Unreal. OHL Champions pic.twitter.com/VulkzhaxZY
— Laura Barney (@l_barney) May 13, 2018
The two teams would end up splitting the first four games of the series. As things shifted back to the Greyhounds’ turf, Hamilton held off the Soo’s frantic comeback in Game 5. Then they completed one of their own in Game 6, bringing an OHL championship to Hamilton. The first since 1975/76 (Hamilton Fincups).
Hamilton will have little time to revel in this win. They’ve punched their ticket to the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup, and will kick the tournament off against the host Regina Pats on Friday night. But before they embark on staking their claim to being the best of the OHL’s final four, let’s look back at their magical run.
By the Numbers: The Hamilton Bulldogs path to the OHL Championship
4: Four players finished the OHL playoffs with 20 or more points for Hamilton. Their lone 30-point man was St. Louis Blues prospect Robert Thomas. He was joined by Overager Ryan Moore (26), career Bulldog/Belleville Bull Brandon Saigeon (25), and Nicholas Caamano (22). On the other side, the Greyhounds had six with 20 or more points, including the top two scorers in the post-season. The depth won out for Hamilton though, as 12 Bulldogs finished in double digits (10 from the Soo).
6: It’s been a long run of dominance for the Western Conference. Since the 1999 playoffs, just six teams have won the J. Ross Robertson Cup while residing in the East. From 1999-2001 it was the Belleville Bulls, Barrie Colts and Ottawa 67’s. In 2006 it was the Peterborough Petes and in 2015 it was the Oshawa Generals.
Since the turn of the century only 4 eastern conference teams have won the OHL title
Hamilton tries to become the 5th today.
— Steve McLean (@SteveMcLean888) May 13, 2018
9: The Hamilton Bulldogs knocked off the 50 win Greyhounds. In the process, the Soo became the ninth 50 win team to fail to win a championship since 2001. Since 2014 the Greyhounds have suffered defeat after a 50 win season twice (2014/15 as well). The Erie Otters, of course, only won one championship amid their four-straight 50 win seasons. The list also includes the Mississauga/St. Michael’s Majors (2010/11), the Barrie Colts (2009/10), and the London Knights (2003/04, 2006/07).
21: It took 21 games for the Bulldogs to win the championship. After winning the first, second and third rounds in five games (4-1), Hamilton took care of Sault Ste. Marie in six. The Bulldogs are one of six teams to win the championship in 21 games since 2001. Owen Sound and Guelph both took 22 games, while five took it in 20 (Guelph, Windsor, Rangers, Whalers, 67’s). The fastest road to the championship was taken by the London Knights. It took them 18 games to book their spot in the Memorial Cup in both 2005 and 2016.
32: Thomas, the playoff MVP, racked up 32 points en route to earning the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award. Thomas had 12 goals and 20 assists, including multiple points in three of Hamilton’s four victories in the final. The total seems somewhat low considering the electric nature of the OHL, but it lands him in the middle of the pack since 2001. The lowest total for a leading scorer on a winning team in that span was Seth Griffith and Olli Maatta‘s 23 points each for the 2012 London Knights. The highest? Mitch Marner’s 44 points in 2016.
32 points in 21 playoff games
OHL Playoff MVP
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 13, 2018
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) May 14, 2018
“Hamilton, the fans, they are so proud of their city. They came in numbers and hopefully we made them proud today.” – Owner Michael Andlauer
“We’ve been down all year going into the third period. We were confident that we could get the job done. We’ve got a hell of a group and our character is unbelievable.” – Playoff MVP Robert Thomas
“This wasn’t Miracle on Ice. The better team won.” – Head Coach John Gruden
My favourite quote of the night (that didn’t make it into my story) comes from @BulldogsOHL coach John Gruden, who said:
“I have so much emotion going through my mind at the moment I can’t even have any emotion.#SSMvsHAM #OHLChampionship
— Teri Pecoskie (@TeriatTheSpec) May 14, 2018
First Round: 8/8
Second Round: 4/4
Third Round: 1/2 (Kingston over Hamilton)
OHL Championship: 1/1
Embed from Getty Images