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Leblanc, Palushaj, Engqvist Among Bulldogs Award Winners

Much like their parent club, the Hamilton Bulldogs will not be part of the post season in the AHL. The ‘Dogs wrapped up their season Sunday, closing out the 2011-12 campaign at 34-35-2-5, finishing last in their division and 14th overall in the Western Conference.

Bulldogs coach Clement Jodoin is already looking ahead to the next season that he hopes will be void of a revolving door of call-ups and injuries. “I have my plan, I would like to have a structure of 14 guys and after that there are 10 rookies,” Jodoin said. “There’s a lot of things out of our control. It was important to finish the season on a positive note.”

Throughout their final game, a 3-2 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins, the team announced their annual individual award winners, many of whom saw time with the Habs this past season.

Brian Willsie and Andreas Engqvist tied for the teams’s Most Valuable Player award, with Willsie also picking up the leading scorer and “Workhorse of the Year” awards.

Aaron Palushaj, who unofficially was the Canadiens frequent flyer winner, picked up the Molson Cup and Fan’s Choice awards.

“My goal is to be an impact player in Montreal next year,” Palushaj said Sunday. “I’ve got a long road ahead of me. As bad as it sucks not making the playoffs, it gives me four solid months of working out and getting ready for next training camp.”

Louis Leblanc was the team’s Rookie of the Year, and Frederic St-Denis was named the clubs top defenseman.

Brendon Nash and Hunter Bishop shared the “Man of the Year Award” for their community involvement.

The full release from the team can be read here.

Thought there is no official team award, or for that matter an AHL award, the team and league leader in the sin bin went to Zack Fitzgerald. “Fitz” picked up his second AHL penalty minute title in three seasons, edging out the Hershey Bears Joel Rechlicz by one minute, with a total of 268. The Bulldogs defenseman picked up a pair of minor penalties (which he despises getting over major penalties) in the final game to lay claim to the crown.

“It’s not something to be too, too proud of,” Fizgerald said in last Wednesday’s feature in the Hamilton Spectator, “But you have to get your name out there somehow.”

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