Hamilton Bulldogs giving fans replica OHL rings at home opener


Published August 31, 2022 at 1:35 pm

Hamilton Bulldogs wing George Diaco with the OHL trophy. (OHL Images)

A moment of triumph cannot be relived, but the Hamilton Bulldogs are offering some bling to the fans who believed in them last season.

The Bulldogs, who won the Ontario Hockey League title in June, revealed today (Aug. 31) that they will be giving out 5,000 replica championship rings at their home opener. Season-ticket holders and monthly ticket members will be guaranteed a ring.

Hamilton, guided by head coach Jay McKee and president-general manager Steve Staios, is currently in training camp. The Bulldogs will start the OHL regular season with three away games before their home opener on Oct. 8 against the Oshawa Generals.

Last season’s iteration of the Bulldogs won the OHL title in a seven-game championship series against the Windsor Spitfires, capturing Game 7 in front of a league-record crowd of 11,779. Battling an injury bug, they were the last league champion to fall at the season-ending Memorial Cup tournament, falling in the final against the host Saint John Sea Dogs on June 29. Saint John had over five weeks to rest and reset for the tournament after being eliminated in the first round of the Québec league (QMJHL) playoffs.

Hamilton, which has hired Olympic gold medallist Laura Fortino as the OHL’s first female assistant coach, likely faces a transitional season. Contending teams in the OHL, which is a professional-format league for players aged 16 to 20, typically have older rosters. Last season, Hamilton had nine 19-year-old players.

Six players from that age cohort remain on the preseason roster, but ultimately only three of those 20-year-olds will be able to stay. Hamilton-born goalie Marco Costantani, defenceman Gavin White, centre Logan Morrison and wings Avery Hayes, George Diaco and Marco Duarte are those half-dozen players.

Forward Mason McTavish, an Anaheim Ducks first-round choice who was the most valuable player of the recent world junior championship, may also move up to NHL to stay. McTavish had a nine-game NHL stint in Anaheim last season before returning to the OHL.

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