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Barons lose series to Hamilton by 4-2 margin
3-1 loss to Bulldogs Sunday ends season
5/10/04 - by Craig Haueter

The Cleveland Barons fell Sunday afternoon to the Hamilton Bulldogs by a final score of 3-1 to lose the best of seven series by a 4-2 margin. The loss concluded the most successful season in Barons history, as it marked the best record in franchise history (37-28-8-7), highest home attendance, and first appearance in the Calder Cup playoffs.

The Barons managed a 54-point season in 2002-03. By gaining 89 points this season, Cleveland became the AHL’s most-improved team, bettering their total by 35 points. The Barons did not lose back-to-back games in regulation until March 13th against Chicago.

Cleveland was tied for the second fewest road losses in the league. The offense on the road was sparked by the AHL’s second best road power play unit. The Barons converted on 17.3% of their power play opportunities on the road.

Miroslav Zalesak was the Cleveland Barons Most Valuable Player for the 2003-04 season. The Slovakia native ended the season tied for third in the AHL with 75 points, third in goals with 35, 12th in assists with 40, and fourth in power play goals with 13. The 75 points by Zalesak are a Cleveland Barons franchise record.

The Barons started the season with 9 rookies on the roster. At season’s end, the Barons had 11 rookies. Garrett Stafford, Jon DiSalvatore, Ryane Clowe and Grant Stevenson all finished in the top-15 of AHL rookie scoring.

Cleveland predominately used Seamus Kotyk, Dimitri Patzold and Nolan Schaefer in net this season. Interestingly, all three netminders faced a penalty shot this season. At season’s end, 19 players at the NHL level were Roy Sommer products including three starting goaltenders—Evgeni Nabokov in San Jose, Miikka Kiprusoff in Calgary and Johan Hedberg in Vancouver.

Nine players have skated for both the Cleveland Barons and the San Jose Sharks thus far. These players are Niko Dimitrakos, Christian Ehrhoff, Jim Fahey, Todd Harvey, Lynn Loyns, Milan Michalek, Patrick Rissmiller, Miroslav Zalesak and Marcel Goc. Seamus Kotyk and Nolan Schaefer each dressed as back-up goaltenders in San Jose, but neither appeared in a game.

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