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AHL Morning Skate: April 25

Take a game-day spin around the AHL ice with latest from around the American Hockey League in today’s Morning Skate.

Complete Schedule || Playoff Brackets || Today’s Scoreboard || League Leaders

Tonight’s Previews

nor  mch
Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live
Manchester and Norfolk meet in the conference quarterfinals for the second time in three years, kicking off their best-of-five series at the Verizon Wireless Arena tonight… The Admirals, then Tampa Bay’s affiliate, defeated the Monarchs in four games in 2012 on their way to the Calder Cup championship… Manchester is the top seed in the Eastern Conference after racking up 105 points and winning the third division title in franchise history… The Monarchs were the only AHL team to rank among the league’s top five in both offense (5th, 244 GF) and defense (3rd, 188 GA) in 2013-14… Jordan Weal (23-47-70, +26) finished fifth in the league in scoring, and he joined teammates Andrew Bodnarchuk (+43, 1st), Vincent LoVerde (+37, T-2nd) and Brian O’Neill (+31, 4th) among the top six in the league in plus/minus… After taking over starting duties from Martin Jones, the Monarchs’ Jean-Francois Berube (28-17-2, 2.37, .913) went on to rank third in the AHL in wins… John Gibson, who had a successful stint in his NHL debut with Anaheim to close out the regular season, was 21-17-4 (2.34, .919) in 45 appearances for Norfolk… Three of the Admirals’ leading scorers from the regular season — Emerson Etem (24-30-54), Devante Smith-Pelly (27-16-43) and Rickard Rakell (14-23-37) — are on NHL recall to Anaheim… Norfolk led the AHL in penalty killing (88.1 percent) during the regular season.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “A” (best-of-5)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 8-Norfolk Admirals
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Norfolk at Manchester, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Norfolk at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:15
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:30
*Game 5 – Sat., May 3 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:15
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

pro  spr
Game 2 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live (SPR leads series, 1-0)
Andrew Joudrey‘s goal 2:21 into overtime on Wednesday night in Providence gave Springfield a 3-2 win and a 1-0 series lead heading home for Games 2 and 3 this weekend… It was Joudrey’s second career playoff overtime goal, and moved the Falcons to 10-3 all-time in postseason OT games… Jean-Francois Jacques and Ryan Craig also scored for the Falcons in Game 1, and Mike McKenna made 35 saves for the victory in his first playoff action since 2010… David Warsofsky and Ryan Spooner were the Bruins’ goal-scorers… Niklas Svedberg made 31 stops but Providence dropped its fifth straight playoff game going back to last spring… The Falcons, who set a franchise record with 47 wins and tied the team mark with 100 points in the regular season, were 23-12-0-3 at home… The Bruins were 8-5-0-3 in their last 16 road games during the regular season.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “B” (best-of-5)
2-Springfield Falcons vs. 7-Providence Bruins

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 23 – Springfield 3, PROVIDENCE 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Providence at Springfield, 7:00
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Providence at Springfield, 7:00
*Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 29 – Springfield at Providence, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 3 – Providence at Springfield, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

stj  alb
Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live
St. John’s and Albany meet for the first time this season as they open their first-round playoff series tonight at the Times Union Center… The IceCaps posted a 27-point improvement over last season and grabbed the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference with 99 points… The Devils set franchise records with 40 wins and 93 points, and earned their first postseason trip since 2010 when they were based in Lowell… Albany’s record was the best for a New Jersey AHL affiliate since 1998-99… Albany was 24-9-3-2 at home this season (24-7-2-1 at the Times Union Center), while St. John’s was 23-13-0-2 on the road… IceCaps leading scorers Jason Jaffray (18-41-59) and Andrew Gordon (23-34-57) have a combined 121 games of AHL playoff experience, totaling 49-43-92 between them in their Calder Cup careers… St. John’s forward Jerome Samson (27-29-56) starred for three seasons with the Albany River Rats from 2007-10… Joe Whitney (22-31-53) has been the Devils’ team scoring leader in each of the last three seasons… Defensemen Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas, along with forwards Tim Sestito and Mike Sislo, all returned to Albany for the playoffs after finishing the regular season in New Jersey.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “D” (best-of-5)
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 5-Albany Devils
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – St. John’s at Albany, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – St. John’s at Albany, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Albany at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Albany at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 3 – Albany at St. John’s, 6:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

wbs  bng
Game 1 – 7:05 ET, AHL Live
Interstate 81 rivals Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton meet in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row… Last spring, the Penguins swept the Senators in three straight… Binghamton won the East Division and claimed the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 5-4 win over Wilkes-Barre last Friday night… The home team won seven of the eight regular-season meetings between the teams… Thirteen skaters netted at least 10 goals for Binghamton’s league-leading offense this season, led by Mike Hoffman and Matt Puempel with 30 each… Binghamton scored a league-high 16 shorthanded goals in 2013-14; Wilkes-Barre was second with 14… The Penguins led the league in goals against (185) for the third time in four seasons under head coach John Hynes… Tom Kostopoulos, a member of the Penguins’ Calder Cup finalist teams in 2001 and 2004, led Wilkes-Barre in scoring with 22-25-47 during the regular season… Since 1969, this is the 16th playoff meeting between the AHL’s #1 offense and #1 defense; the top offensive team has won 12 of the previous 15 series (17 of 26 all-time).

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
3-Binghamton Senators vs. 6-W-B/Scranton Penguins

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Binghamton at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Binghamton at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 5 – W-B/Scranton at Binghamton, 7:05
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

chi  rch
Game 1 – 7:05 ET, AHL Live
An opening-night win on Oct. 4 left Chicago tied for first in the Midwest Division after one game; the Wolves didn’t return to the top spot until clinching the division title on the last day of the regular season… With the #2 seed in the Western Conference, Chicago draws Rochester in a first-round matchup… The Wolves rode the goaltending of Jake Allen to a 100-point season; Allen led the AHL in wins (33), goals-against average (2.03), save percentage (.928), shutouts (7) and minutes played (3,138) in winning the Baz Bastien Award as the league’s outstanding goalie… Offensively, Chicago was paced by first-year pro Ty Rattie (31-17-48), who tied for the league lead in goals among rookies… Rochester offset a nine-game losing streak to end March by going 7-1-0-1 in April, taking the seventh seed in the West for the third year in a row… Phil Varone (18-43-61) led the Americans in assists and points, while Luke Adam (29-20-49) was tops in goals while ranking second in the AHL with 16 power-play tallies… Rochester has lost nine straight playoff games; only four teams in AHL history have lost as many as 10 in a row during the postseason.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “F” (best-of-5)
2-Chicago Wolves vs. 7-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Chicago at Rochester, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Chicago at Rochester, 7:05
Game 3 – Thu., May 1 – Rochester at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Rochester at Chicago, 8:30
*Game 5 – Sun., May 4 – Rochester at Chicago, 4:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

tor  mil
Game 1 – 8:00 ET, AHL Live
Toronto enters the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs after winning the North Division for the third year in a row and becoming just the sixth team in AHL history with three straight first-place finishes… Milwaukee, meanwhile, extended its postseason streak to 12 consecutive appearances thanks to a 16-5-0-1 surge in its final 22 games… The Marlies’ T.J. Brennan (25-47-72) won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman in 2013-14, scoring more goals than any AHL blueliner since 2000… Former Admirals goaltender Drew MacIntyre (29-15-3, 2.53, .917) finished second in the league in wins, and is 32-26 (2.09, .925) in 62 career Calder Cup Playoff appearances… Forward Miikka Salomaki (20-30-50) paced Milwaukee with 50 points, one of five AHL rookies to lead his team in scoring this season… Colton Sissons (25-19-44) was the Admirals’ top goal scorer… Milwaukee won both regular-season meetings with Toronto, outscoring the Marlies, 8-3.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “G” (best-of-5)
3-Toronto Marlies vs. 6-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Toronto at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Toronto at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Thu., May 1 – Milwaukee at Toronto, 7:00
*Game 4 – Sat., May 3 – Milwaukee at Toronto, 3:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 4 – Milwaukee at Toronto, 3:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

gr  abb
Game 1 – 10:00 ET, AHL Live
Grand Rapids earned 92 points in the regular season in 2012-13 before going on to win four playoff series and the franchise’s first Calder Cup championship… Despite a significant roster turnover — 13 members of last year’s club saw time with the parent Detroit Red Wings this season — the 2013-14 Griffins improved to 99 points (46-23-2-5) and will be #4 seed in the Western Conference, facing Abbotsford in round one… Only three of Grand Rapids’ top 10 playoff scorers from last spring begin this year’s playoff run with the club… Second Team AHL All-Star Petr Mrazek (22-9-1, 2.10, .924) played every minute of last year’s postseason in net for the Griffins… Mrazek was joined on the AHL’s Second All-Star Team by defenseman Adam Almquist (4-49-53)… Grand Rapids forward Teemu Pulkkinen (31-28-59) and defenseman Ryan Sproul (11-21-32) and Abbotsford goaltender Joni Ortio (27-8-0, 2.33, .926) make up half of the 2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team… Heat defenseman Chad Billins (10-31-41) was a key member of the Griffins’ Calder Cup team last year.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “H” (best-of-5)
4-Grand Rapids Griffins vs. 5-Abbotsford Heat
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Grand Rapids at Abbotsford, 10:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Grand Rapids at Abbotsford, 10:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Abbotsford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Abbotsford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 –Sat., May 3 – Abbotsford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Playoff Perennials
Milwaukee and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton both begin their 12th consecutive Calder Cup Playoff appearance tonight… Here are the longest postseason streaks in AHL history:

24 — Cleveland Barons (1941-64)
17 — Hershey Bears (1961-77)
16 — Rochester Americans (1990-2005)
15 — Montreal/Nova Scotia Voyageurs (1970-84)
14 — Adirondack Red Wings (1986-99)
12 — Hartford Wolf Pack (1998-2009)
12 — Milwaukee Admirals (2003-present)
12 — Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2003-present)

Alumni Watch
Congratulations to AHL alumni Ben Bishop, Tuukka Rask and Semyon Varlamov, named today the three finalists for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy for 2013-14… In Stanley Cup Playoff action last night, Rask, a 2008 AHL All-Star, made 35 saves as Boston defeated Detroit in overtime, 3-2… 2012-13 AHL Rookie of the Year Tyler Toffoli scored the game-winning goal in Los Angeles’s 6-3 win over San Jose… AHL grads Jared Spurgeon and Charlie Coyle scored for Minnesota in a 2-1 victory over Colorado… Joey Hishon made his NHL debut for the Avalanche last night, becoming the 133rd AHL player to make his National Hockey League debut in 2013-14.

AHL Live

Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2014 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet all season long with live video webcasts and free highlights of every AHL game… Visit ahllive.com for details.