Hamilton Bulldogs Alumni
Drafted with the Hamilton Bulldogs 3rd ever selection, 40th overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection Draft
Mackenzie Entwistle immediately stepped right into the Hamilton lineup on the heels of an OHL Cup Championship with the Toronto Malboros. An impact player right out of the gates as a 16-year old, Entwistle showed hockey intelligence well beyond his years and continued to grow his game across 3 seasons as a key member of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Selected for the CHL Top Prospects Game in 2017 and combined with his impressive OHL showings, Entwistle would become the first Hamilton Bulldog selected in the NHL Draft when the Arizona Coyotes called his name with the 69th overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The towering center would take another step forward in the 2017-18 season, recording 13 goals & 25 assists for 38 points in 49 games while adding 10 goals & 7 assists for 17 points in 21 playoff games en route to winning the 2018 OHL Championship. The summer of 2018 would see Entwistle’s NHL rights dealt in a blockbuster moving from Arizona to the Chicago Blackhawks (along with future Bulldogs assistant coach Andrew Campbell). On October 4th, 2018 Entwistle would be named just the second captain in Hamilton Bulldogs’ history, taking the mantle from the graduated Justin Lemcke. Entwistle would once again step forward in the 2018-19 season, recording 15 goals & 12 assists for 27 points in 29 games with the Bulldogs and end his time as a Bulldog representing Team Canada at the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship recording 3 assists in 5 games. A January 2019 trade to the Guelph Storm would see Entwistle finish his junior career with a 2nd OHL Championship recording 30 points in 28 regular season games and adding another 21 points across 24 playoff games to hoist 2nd straight title. After parts of two seasons with Rockford of the AHL, the call the former Bulldogs’ captain had waited for would come on March 23rd, 2021 as Entwistle would suit up for his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks against the Florida Panthers. Entwistle would play 5 games for the Hawks before the end of the 2021 season, recording his 1st NHL point, an assist, on May 4th against the Carolina Hurricanes and his 1st NHL goal on May 9th against the Dallas Stars, a goal assisted by future Hockey Hall of Famer Patrick Kane.
Ancaster’s own Nick Caamano was originally selected by the, then, Plymouth Whalers in the 2nd round, 27th overall in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection Draft and would spend the next 3 seasons becoming a top star in the OHL
Scoring 20 goals for the first time in just his second season, 2015-16, Caamano put himself on NHL radar for his rugged power forward style combined with high end skills and it paid off with a 5th round, 146th overall, selection by the Dallas Stars in the 2016 NHL Draft. Caamano would almost double his offensive output for the now Flint Firebirds in the 2016-17 season recording 35 goals & 29 assists for 64 points in 67 games and earning his first professional run with the AHL’s Texas Stars at the close of the season. Caamano would open the 2017-18 season in Flint with 12 goals and 9 assists for 21 points in 23 games before the Bulldogs would acquire him along with Ryan Moore and bring him home to chase the 2018 OHL Championship. Playing in front of friends and family Caamano would record 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points in 41 games in the regular season and taking his game to the next level
in the 2018 playoffs recording 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points in 21 playoff games en route to winning the 2018 OHL Championship. The 2018-19 season would see Caamano turn pro spending the season with fellow Bulldogs alumnus Ben Gleason with the AHL’s Texas Stars. Nick Caamano would break camp with the Dallas Stars for the 2019-20 season making his NHL debut on October 5th, 2019 against the St. Louis Blues and scoring his 1st NHL goal on October 8th, 2019 against the Washington Capitals. Following the hiatus of the 2019-20 season, Nick Caamano would play in the last 4 games of the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals for the Stars coming within 2 wins of being a Stanley Cup Champion as a rookie.
Robert Thomas began his junior career as a 2nd round, 26th overall pick by the London Knights in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection Draft.
He immediately became a force in helping the London Knights win the 2016 OHL Championship and CHL Memorial Cup. The 2016-17 season would see star centerman put up 16 goals and 50 assists for 66 points in 66 games and adding 3 goals and 9 assists for 12 points in 14 playoff games which would lead Thomas to being selected in the 1st round, 20th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Thomas would open up the 2017-18 season with 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points in 27 games for the Knights before representing Team Canada at the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship recording 1 goal & 5 assists for 6 points in a gold medal effort. Following winning the gold medal Thomas would be the feature piece of the blockbuster trade that would lead him to become the last piece for the Bulldogs run. Recording 4 goals and 25 assists for 29 points in 22 games to close the season in Hamilton that would prove to just be Thomas just getting his footing. In the 2018 playoffs, Robert Thomas would prove to be the best player outside of the NHL as he would record 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points across 21 playoff games in winning the 2018 OHL Championship, his second, as well as the Wayne Gretzky Award for MVP of the OHL playoffs. Thomas would make the St. Louis Blues for the 2018-19 season, making his NHL debut on October 4th, 2018 against the Winnipeg Jets, recording his first NHL point, an assist, on October 11th, 2018 against the Calgary Flames and his first goal on November 21st, 2018 against the Nashville Predators. By the end of the 2019 NHL playoffs, Robert Thomas would become the first player to win the OHL Championship and Stanley Cup Championship in back-to-back seasons as the St. Louis Blues would win their franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The Hamilton Bulldogs’ first major trade addition in franchise history, Ben Gleason became a Hamilton Bulldog on October 7th, 2015 and almost immediately emerged as a fan favourite.
An offensively gifted defenseman originally selected by the London Knights in the 2nd round, 36th overall in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Gleason had played 43 games in the OHL with the Knights before arriving in Hamilton but everything would click for Gleason when he put the Bulldogs’ jersey on. Finishing the team’s inaugural 2015-16 season with 7 goals & 25 assists for 32 points in 64 games, Gleason would see a continued climb in his production year over year. The 2016-17 season would see Gleason record 6 goals and 33 assists for 39 points in 66 games helping the team make the playoffs for the first team in an exciting 7 game series with Kingston that would see Gleason chip in a pair of assists. A record setting 2017-18 season would see Ben Gleason set the single season records in assists and points for Bulldogs’ defenseman while tying captain Justin Lemcke’s goals record ending the season with 9 goals and 39 assists for 48 points 63 points and setting the Bulldogs’ playoff record for points by a defenseman with 3 goals and 15 assists for 18 points in 21 games en route to winning the 2018 OHL Championship. Gleason’s offensive acumen and perseverance (Gleason missed only 5 games across his 3 seasons in Hamilton) would lead to a contract with the Dallas Stars, joining Bulldogs’ teammate Nick Caamano in the lone star state. Gleason would earn his NHL debut with Dallas and record his 1st NHL point, an assist, in the same game against the Nashville Predators on November 10th, 2018.
Just the third CHL Import Draft selection in Hamilton Bulldogs history, Marian Studenic would quickly become the most decorated.
Selected 11th overall in the 2016 Import Draft from HK 36 Skalica, Studenic had already spent a season in the Slovakian professional league as well as representing Slovakia at both the World U17 & U18 Hockey Championship tournaments before arriving in Hamilton. An immediate impact player with the Bulldogs in the 2016-17 season Studenic would wow Hamilton fans with his blazing speed and put up 18 goals as an OHL rookie to go along with 12 assists for 30 points in 58 games while also representing Slovakia at the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship. Following his eye-opening season with the Bulldogs, the New Jersey Devils would select Marian Studenic in the 5th round, 143rd overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The 2017-18 season would see Studenic make another leap forward, recording 20 goals and 28 assists for 48 points in 62 games during the season he would also represent Slovakia at the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship. By playoff time in 2018, Studenic had formed a dynamic combination with Nick Caamano & Ryan Moore that would see the Slovakian star record 3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 21 games on the march to the 2018 OHL Championship. Graduating to the professional ranks for the 2018-19 season spending the next two seasons with the AHL’s Binghamton Devils and eventually earning his way to the NHL with the New Jersey Devils for his debut on April 11th, 2021 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and scoring his 1st goal on April 18th, 2021 against the New York Rangers.
The Hamilton Bulldogs all-time leader in goals and points began his OHL career as a 2nd round pick, 26th overall in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft and Arthur Kaliyev immediately made an impact.
Stepping into the OHL as a 16-year old was made to look easy by the American sniper recording 30 goals in his rookie season to go along with 17 assists for 48 points in 68 games setting Bulldogs records for goals and points as a rookie. For the 2018 playoffs, Kaliyev would find himself up and down the lineup, at times even as a rookie playing alongside eventual MVP Robert Thomas, recording 3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points playing in all 21 playoff games winning the OHL Championship as a rookie. The 2018-19 season would see Kaliyev continue to write the Bulldogs record book, scoring 51 goals & 51 assists for 102 points in 67 games, setting records for single season goals and points for the team. Kaliyev’s success on the ice would be followed by his name being called in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd round, 33rd overall, a record high for a Bulldogs player. The 2019-20 season would see Kaliyev increase his prolific scoring ability to new heights, recording 44 goals & 54 assists for 98 points in just 57 games setting the Bulldogs all-time records for goals and assists. Kaliyev would also excel on the international stage in 2020, representing the United States at the World Junior Hockey Championship leading his team in goals with 4 before following it up at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship finishing 2nd on the team in points with 8 in 7 games winning a Gold Medal for the United States. Kaliyev would head to the American Hockey League for the 2021 season with the Ontario Reign where he would lead his team in scoring as a rookie with 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points in 40 games and earning his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings, where he would score his 1st NHL goal on February 2nd, 2021 against the Anaheim Ducks.
As the Hamilton Bulldogs were finding their way in the inaugural 2015-16 season, the team would look find the goaltender who would provide the building blocks for a championship run. they would find him on January 7th, 2016 acquiring Kaden Fulcher from the Sarnia Sting.
Fulcher would finish his first season with the Bulldogs 4-10-0, the tools he showed were the makings of something special that would start to break out. In the 2016-17 season Fulcher would run up a 19-17-6 record with 3.21 GAA & 0.891 SV% appearing in 43 games and by the end of the season would team with veteran Dawson Carty from whom Kaden would learn getting set for the historic 2017-18 season. As the season got under way, Fulcher would be offered a dream, a contract with the Detroit Red Wings on October 3rd, 2017 and it appeared to energize the star goaltender who would go on to appear in 55 regular season games recording a 2.86 GAA & .899 SV% while posting a tremendous 32-17-6 record leading the Bulldogs to the team’s first division championship. The 2018 playoffs would see Fulcher play every minute for the Bulldogs going 16-5 in the post season with a 2.70 GAA & .905 SV% in backstopping the team to the 2018 OHL Championship. Fulcher would head to the professional level in the 2018-19 season spending the majority of the season with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye but would earn his way up to the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and make his debut on April 6th, 2019 in a relief effort against the Buffalo Sabres. Since that time, Fulcher has earned his way from the ECHL to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins where on May 11th, 2021 he would capture his 1st professional shutout in a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Monsters.
Acquired from the Oshawa Generals on December 28th, 2017, Riley Stillman would become a key piece of the Hamilton Bulldogs run to the 2018 OHL Championship.
The hard hitting, mobile defender came to the Bulldogs with two and a half OHL seasons already under his belt and having been selected in the 4th round, 114th overall, by the Florida Panthers, Stillman was highly thought of but would hit another level in the Steel City. Scoring 4 goals & 17 assists for 21 points in 33 games for the Bulldogs during the regular season, Stillman would ascend to Hamilton’s top pair, playing next to team captain Justin Lemcke, and on March 4th, 2018 sign his NHL Entry Level Contract with the Florida Panthers while a member of the Bulldogs. Stillman would turn in an MVP level performance in the 2018 OHL Playoffs combining his rugged, shutdown defensive style with his added offensive touch scoring 5 goals & 9 assists for 14 points in 21 playoff games, playing a massive part in winning the 2018 OHL Championship. Graduating to the professional level the following season, Stillman would appear in 59 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL while making his NHL debut on February 26th, 2019 against the Arizona Coyotes. The 2019-20 season would see Stillman breakthrough to a more regular NHL role, appearing in 34 NHL games with Florida and recording his first NHL point, an assist, on January 2nd, 2020 against the Ottawa Senators. Stillman would be traded halfway through the 2021 NHL season, heading to the Chicago Blackhawks where he joins former Bulldogs’ teammate MacKenzie Entwistle and immediately became a regular in the Chicago lineup playing 13 games before the end of the season and recording his 1st NHL goal on May 6th against the Carolina Hurricanes.
An original Hamilton Bulldog, arriving with the team for the 2015-16 season, Matt Luff would immediately become an offensive force for the Bulldogs finishing 2nd on the team in its’ inaugural season in goals with 27 while adding 30 assists for a team leading 57 points in 61 games.
An undrafted free agent, Luff would become the first Hamilton Bulldogs player to sign an NHL contract when he agreed on a 3-year, Entry Level Contract with the Los Angeles Kings on September 23rd, 2016. Luff would make the Kings brass look very smart in the 2016-17 OHL season scoring 25 goals & 24 assists for 49 points in just 45 games while adding another 4 goals & 5 assists for 9 points across 7 playoff games. Luff’s performances with the Bulldogs would be more than enough for the Kings to keep him in the organization for the 2017-18 season where he’d record 12 goals & 17 assists for 29 points in 67 games of the AHL’s Ontario Reign as a rookie finishing 8th on his team in points and 6th in goals. Luff would begin the 2018-19 season with Ontario but on November 3rd, 2018 he’d receive the call to the National Hockey League making his Los Angeles Kings debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Luff would score his 1st NHL goal just a couple weeks after his NHL debut on November 19th, 2018 against the St. Louis Blues, the beginning of a 4-game goal streak for the young sniper. Luff would go onto record 8 goals & 3 assists for 11 points in 33 games as an NHL rookie while adding 11 goals & 20 assists for 31 points in 36 games at the AHL level. Since that time Luff 64 games and 17 total points at the NHL level to go along with 89 points across 139 AHL games by the end of the 2021 season.
Growing up in the Bili Tygri Liberec system in the Czech Republic, Jan Jenik was identified as a potential star very early, representing the Czech Republic on the international stage at the U16 & U17 levels, the U18 World Hockey Championship and Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, all leading to his selection in the 3rd round, 65th overall, by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Jenik would go on to represent the Czech Republic on the international stage again at the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship before arriving with the Hamilton Bulldogs via trade in January, 2019. Immediately breaking out as a star with the Bulldogs, Jenik would go on to score 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 27 games as an OHL rookie. To begin the 2019-20 season, Jenik would re-form his incredible duo with Bulldogs record holder Arthur Kaliyev and set the league on fire through the first half, scoring 22 goals & 34 assists for 56 points across just 27 games before heading to the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship where an unfortunate injury would end his season. Returning in the 2020-21 season, Jenik would begin the season on loan with Kettera of the Finnish Mestis league recording 8 points in 7 games, showing the injury was well behind him, and heading to the Tuscon Roadrunners upon the beginning of the 2021 AHL season. Jenik would continue to deliver offensively with 6 goals & 8 assists for 14 points in 29 games before receiving his call to the NHL on May 7th, 2021 against the San Jose Sharks where he’d score his first career NHL goal, repeating the same feat the next night May 8th, 2021 scoring against the San Jose Sharks again.
The Head Coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs 2018 OHL Championship, John Gruden rose to prominence as a player first with the Ferris State Bulldogs from 1990-1994 where the offensively gifted defenseman starred recording 104 points in 155 games and served as team captain from 1992-1994.
Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 8th round, 168th overall, in 1990, Gruden would go on to play with Hamilton Bulldogs President & General Manager Steve Staios while with the Bruins. Gruden would go on to star with the Providence Bruins of the AHL and then the Detroit Vipers of the IHL, while making 22 appearances with the Ottawa Senators. Three productive seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL would lead to a starring role with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL where Gruden would serve as team captain for the 2002-03 season and represent the USA at the 2003 World Hockey Championship. Gruden would wrap up his playing career with the Washington Capitals in the 2003-04 season before turning to coaching. Stops as a Head Coach at Brother Rice & Stoney Creek High Schools in Michigan as well as a stint with the Oakland Grizzlies 14U program would lead Gruden to assistant coach role with the United States Development Program from 2011-2015 where he would also coach Team USA at both the U17 & U18 World Hockey Championships on 5 combined occasions. A tumultuous 2015-16 with the Flint Firebirds would lead Gruden to Hamilton where he would bring his high energy style to the Bulldogs and become the exact right coach for the program. Taking over for the 2016-17 season, Gruden would lead the Bulldogs to the playoffs for the 1st time, falling in an incredible 7 game series with the Kingston Frontenacs. The 2017-18 season would see Gruden lead the Bulldogs to their most successful season to date, winning the East Division in the regular season for the 1st team before capturing the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions and the J. Ross Robertson Cup as 2018 OHL Champions. Following the 2018 Memorial Cup, Gruden would be hired by Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders to serve as an assistant coach where he remains, having helped lead the Islanders to the playoffs in each of his 3 seasons behind the bench.