Throw the Bulldogs a new bone and they tear it apart every time.
The North Bay Battalion is the latest Ontario Hockey League club to serve as lunch for Hamilton’s red-hot junior hockey club, which has not lost a game at home in the calendar year 2022.
The Bulldogs won the opening game of the best of seven Eastern Conference final 5-2 Friday night, before what this scribe views as a disappointing crowd of 4,162.
That’s from a Greater Hamilton (including Burlington, Flamboro, Dundas, Ancaster, Glanbrook and Stoney Creek) population of just shy of a million people.
The London Knights, by comparison, attracted a crowd of 5,908 for Game 7 of their playoff series against the Kitchener Rangers on May 4, the same night the Toronto Maple Leafs had a nationally televised game.
The Leafs had been dispatched by Tampa Bay and were off the air waves long before Friday night’s game against North Bay at First Ontario Centre.
Still, Friday’s attendance did surpass the crowd of 3,734 spectators who filed through the turnstiles for the first game of the 2018 Eastern Conference final between the Bulldogs and Kingston Frontenacs.
The Bulldogs went on to win the OHL championship, eventually drawing 8,863 fans in the final game of their league title series against the Soo Greyhounds.
Now that’s a number owner Michael Andlauer wouldn’t mind seeing when the Bulldogs host North Bay in Game at First Ontario Centre tonight (Sunday) at 7 p.m.
The club’s longterm goal is to bring the Steel City its first Memorial Cup championship in 46 years. The Hamilton Fincups won the cup in the season of 1975-76.
The Hamilton Red Wings also were national champions in 1961-62.
By DENIS GIBBONS