The Marlies and Bulldogs rivalry is more than just a rivalry within each organization alone, it stems much deeper than that. Being the farm teams of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiéns, respectably, the rivalry exists in the National Hockey League and has done so for several decades.
From players like Nazem Kadri, who was called up to play for the Leafs and has been since December 21st after Center Philippe Dupuis suffered an undisclosed upper body injury, to coaches like Randy Cunneyworth taking on the Head Coach responsibility as an interim after Jacques Martin was released on December, 15th, each organization currently seems to put developmental and in-house first - an important trait in developing the team (competing) within the team (the organization).
More on the Bulldogs and Marlies though, the competition heats up as the Outdoor Classic in Hamilton, Ontario at Ivor Wynne Stadium approaches. The Marlies, who currently sit in 1st in North Division, with a record of 21-15-3-2 and 47 points on the season, look to even the score with the Bulldogs, who currently sit in 3rd in the North Division, with a record of 17-16-1-4 and 39 points on the season.
Expectations seem high for Left Winger and Oshawa, Ontario native Ryan Hamilton who leads the Marlies with 17 goals, ranking 9th overall in the AHL, and Center and Toronto, Ontario native Mike Zigomanis also leading the Marlies with 36 points, 28 of which from assists, who is coming off a 10-point performance (3 goals and 7 assists) over the past nine games. The Marlies also look to keep their 87% penalty kill percentage in tact, only letting in three power play goals in the past 8 games.
For the Bulldogs, expectations are also high for the arsenal with the firepower. Right Winger and Belmont, Ontario native Brian Willsie, who is looking for or to set up a goal or two at the Outdoor Classic, leads his team with 137 shots on goal and currently has 20 points on the season, with 5 goals and 15 assists. Center and Québec City, Québec native Oliver Fortier also looks to continue his hot streak with 3 goals and 4 assists in his last six performances.
Generally and statistically, the Outdoor Classic looks to be a very exciting and worthwhile game for Ivor Wynne Stadium attendees, with both teams in strong standing in the North Division, though the Bulldogs have a 3-1-0-0 advantage over the Marlies this season. Team chemistry and proper match-ups on the offensive and defensive ends will prove to be the difference in this affair. And that is what Head Coach Clement Jodoin of the Hamilton Bulldogs and Dallas Eakins of the Toronto Marlies plan to focus on as the countdown to the Outdoor Classic.