The Hamilton Bulldogs are already in the record books for the American Hockey League by becoming only the third team in the league’s 75 year history to win three games after losing the first three. The Bulldogs play game 7 on Tuesday night against the Houston Aero’s, winner moves on to play the Binghamton Senators for the Calder Cup.
The other two teams to make such comebacks? The 1959/1960 Rochester Americans and 1988/1989 Adirondack Red Wings. Both teams won game seven and advanced to the finals, the Bulldogs are hoping to do the same.
The Red Wings won the Calder Cup during their season, unfortunately the Amerks lost in five games in 1960.
In 1960, the Rochester Americans were still a fledgling franchise, in their fourth season of play in the AHL. Only four clubs in the seven-team league qualified for the playoffs that spring, so the Amerks’ first-round meeting with the Cleveland Barons amounted to a league semifinal series.
After leading the league in both offense and defense in the 1959-60 regular season, Rochester was considered a heavy favorite to win the series. But the Barons stunned the Americans in the first two games of the series at the Rochester War Memorial, winning a pair of defensive battles by 2-0 and 2-1 scores. A 7-5 decision back home in Game 3 put Cleveland on the verge of an upset.
Former Barons defenseman Steve Kraftcheck, a future AHL Hall of Famer who was now Rochester’s player/coach, guided his club into the win column with a 5-3 victory in Game 4. The Amerks took Game 5 at home, 4-1, then evened the series with another 5-3 win back in Cleveland. With all the momentum and none of the pressure, Rochester finished off the comeback with a 4-1 victory in front of 7,762 home fans.
Good luck to former Amerk player and coach Randy Cunneyworth who is coaching the Hamilton Bulldogs this season!