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AHL Morning Skate: Bears poised to bounce back

Every game day from now until the end of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the AHL Morning Skate takes a spin around the AHL ice with recaps and previews, news and notes, facts and figures, and the top headlines from around the American Hockey League.


THURSDAY’S SCORES:
Game 1 – Texas 2, HERSHEY 1 (TEX leads series, 1-0)


THURSDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Scott McCulloch scored the game-winning goal early in the third period as Texas pulled out a 2-1 win at Hershey to open the Calder Cup Finals.

2. Hershey goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopped 24 of 26 shots in the losing effort

3. Texas netminder Matt Climie made 26 saves on 27 shots to earn the victory in net.


TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Calder Cup Finals Game 2 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00 (TEX leads series, 1-0)


2010 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Complete Results || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

2010 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Thu., June 3 – Texas 2, HERSHEY 1
Game 2 – Sat., June 5 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., June 7 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., June 9 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., June 11 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
*Game 6 – Mon., June 14 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 16 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs

Game 1 – Wed., May 12 – HERSHEY 4, Manchester 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 15 – HERSHEY 3, Manchester 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Mon., May 17 – MANCHESTER 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Tue., May 18 – MANCHESTER 1, Hershey 0
Game 5 – Thu., May 20 – Hershey 3, MANCHESTER 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Sat., May 22 – HERSHEY 3, Manchester 2 (OT)

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Fri., May 14 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 16 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 19 – TEXAS 5, Hamilton 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 21 – TEXAS 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., May 22 – Hamilton 3, TEXAS 0
Game 6 – Mon., May 24 – Texas 3, HAMILTON 2 (OT)
*Game 7 – Wed., May 26 – Texas 4, HAMILTON 2

*if necessary… All times Eastern


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 2 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
    Video Webcast: AHL Live
    Satellite Radio: XM 204, Sirius 208
    Series Preview: http://theahl.com/calder-cup-finals-series-preview-p142897

The Texas Stars took on the Hershey Bears juggernaut on Thursday night and came away with a 2-1 win in Game 1 of the 2010 Calder Cup Finals… The AHL’s championship series resumes tonight with Game 2 at Giant Center… Scott McCulloch’s unassisted goal off a Hershey turnover 2:10 into the third period held up as the game-winner as Matt Climie made 12 of his 26 saves in the third… Greg Rallo also scored for Texas, and Aaron Gagnon picked up the lone helper on Rallo’s second goal of the postseason… Texas took Game 1 despite the fact that AHL leading goal- and point-scorer Jamie Benn (14-10-24) was held off the scoresheet… Benn remains tied for the AHL rookie playoff record for goals and four points shy of the rookie mark for points… Climie (6-3, 2.47, .925) collected his third straight win, stopping 118 of 123 shots (1.51, .959) over that span… The Stars held a 12-2 shots advantage in a scoreless first period in Game 1, but Hershey outshot Texas 25-14 over the rest of the contest… The Bears grabbed a 1-0 lead early in the second frame when Francois Bouchard connected for his third of the postseason… Bouchard now shows a goal in two of his last three games (2-0-2) after going his previous 12 outings without finding the back of the net… Forward Mathieu Perreault and defenseman Patrick McNeill earned the assists on Bouchard’s tally; Perreault has a point in three straight games (0-3-3) and seven of his last nine contests (3-6-9), while McNeill boasts three points (1-2-3) in his last two tilts… Michal Neuvirth (10-3, 2.12, .917) stopped 24 of 26 shots but lost for just the third time in 19 career home playoff starts (16-3, 1.55, .941)… Texas has now allowed the game’s first goal in 11 consecutive contests but has gone 7-4 in those games… Thursday’s loss was the Bears’ first in nine home games this postseason and just the second in their last 39 home games overall; including the regular season, the Bears now hold a cumulative home-ice record of 42-5-0-2 for the 2009-10 campaign… Texas (0-for-4 in Game 1) and Hershey (0-for-2) are both an identical 15-for-74 (20.3 percent) on the power play during these playoffs… The Bears are trailing in a series for the first time since losing Game 1 of the 2009 conference finals to Providence…Excluding shootouts, Hershey is 17-3 this season following a loss… The team that wins Game 1 of the Finals has taken the Cup on 56 of 73 previous occasions (76.7 percent), including three straight and 14 of the last 16… Only four teams in AHL history have won the Calder Cup after losing Game 1 at home (Saint John Flames in 2001, Maine Mariners in 1978, Nova Scotia Voyageurs in 1977, Cleveland Barons in 1951)… Ten of the last 11 Calder Cup Finals have now opened with a one-goal margin in Game 1.


ALL-TIME CALDER CUP PLAYOFF LEADERS

Points
1. Darren Haydar, 135
2. Willie Marshall, 119
3. Jason Krog, 118
4. Jody Gage, 110
5. Fred Glover, 104
6. Alexandre Giroux, 94

Goals
1. Darren Haydar, 59
2. Jody Gage, 51
3(t). Willie Marshall, 48
3(t). Fred Glover, 48
3(t). Alexandre Giroux, 48
6. Brad Smyth, 46
7(t). Jason Krog, 42

Assists
1(t). Darren Haydar, 76
1(t). Jason Krog, 76
3. Willie Marshall, 71
4. Mike Nykoluk, 62
5. Domenic Pittis, 61
6. Jody Gage, 59
7. Keith Aucoin, 57

Games Played
1. Bryan Helmer, 133
2. Ken Gernander, 123
3. Fred Glover, 120
4. Jody Gage, 115

8(t). Alexandre Giroux, 107
8(t).
Boyd Kane, 107
8(t). Glenn Merkosky, 107


MORNING HEADLINES:
PRESSURE IS ON BEARS IN GAME 2 OF CALDER CUP FINALS – Harrisburg Patriot-News

A victory over the Hershey Bears in Game 1 of the Calder Cup finals gave the Texas Stars a confidence boost. Of course, it also gave them the mathematical boost of a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and put them in position to take strong command with a win in Game 2 Saturday night at Giant Center. But Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said Friday that he wants to keep the focus on simple one-game arithmetic, not broad-view calculus.
http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2010/06/pressure_is_on_hershey_bears_i.html

MIKE EMRICK RETURNS TO HERSHEY FOR GAME 1 – Harrisburg Patriot-News
Objectivity has never been a problem for Mike Emrick on the job. But on those rare occasions when the voice of the NHL playoffs returns to his old home, Hershey, it’s hard for the 63-year-old not to root. The long-time friend of the Bears’ organization took advantage of a day off from the Chicago-Philadelphia Stanley Cup Finals to drop the ceremonial puck at the start of Game 1 of the Bears’ Calder Cup battle with Texas Thursday night at Giant Center.
http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2010/06/mike_emrick_a_long-time_friend.html

TEXAS STARS IN OPENER – Lebanon Daily News
Leave it to the new team in the league to put Hershey in an unfamiliar postseason position. Playing in its first Calder Cup finals game on Thursday night at Giant Center, the Texas Stars, who are in their inaugural season, beat the Hershey Bears 2-1 to win Game 1 of the finals. For the first time in the playoffs, the defending Calder Cup champion Bears lost a game at home and will also have to try and rebound from suffering their first Game 1 series loss during these playoffs.
http://www.ldnews.com/hersheybears/ci_15223179

BEARS’ COMEBACK FALLS SHORT – Lancaster Intelligencer Journal
You could say that the Hershey Bears long ago beat the odds when they came back to win nine postseason games in which they were trailing in the third period. The Bears tried those odds again Thursday night but this time, there was no comeback. Scott McCulloch of the Texas Stars turned a Hershey turnover into the game-winning goal early in the third period and Texas goalie Matt Climie and his shot-blocking teammates made the one-goal lead stand up.
http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/257631

DEFENSE KEYS STARS’ GAME 1 WIN OVER HERSHEY – Austin American-Statesman
Defense trumped offense Thursday night in Game 1 of the Calder Cup finals. Texas put on a shot-blocking clinic, and the defensive oriented Stars kept Hershey’s potent offense under wraps in front of 10,505 American Hockey League fans at Giant Center. “There’s no secrets here when you get to this point. Defense has been the anchor of this team,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, whose gritty club earned its third consecutive road victory.
http://www.statesman.com/sports/pro/defense-keys-stars-game-1-win-over-hershey-726466.html

STARS CLAIM GAME 1 – Harrisburg Patriot-News
After Game 1 of the Calder Cup finals, the Hershey Bears find themselves in a place they haven’t been all season. Under .500. With a tight defense backed by goalie Matt Climie and an opportunistic offense, the Texas Stars claimed a 2-1 victory Thursday night at Giant Center to seize home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven series.
http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2010/06/texas_stars_claim_game_1_of_ca.html

BEARS DROP GAME 1, 2-1 – WashingtonCaps.com
The Hershey Bears dropped Game 1 of their 2010 Calder Cup final series with the Texas Stars by a 2-1 score at Giant Center on Thursday night. The loss puts the Bears behind in a series for the first time in the 2010 playoffs. “There is still a lot of confidence in the room but obviously we’ve got to rebound and play a better 60-minute game and probably a smarter, more intelligent game in Game 2,” says Bears coach Mark French.
http://capitals.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=530950

BEARS’ PATH TO CUP BLOCKED IN GAME ONE – CSNWashington.com
The Hershey Bears boast the deepest collection of scorers in the American Hockey League, but no advantage in talent or depth is enough to overcome not being able to put the puck on the net. Frustrated by a group of committed defenders, the Bears dropped Game 1 of the Calder Cup finals 2-1 on Thursday night to the Texas Stars at Giant Center. The Stars did a pretty good job of keeping the Bears away from the danger areas in front of goaltender Matt Climie, and when they didn’t, they blocked shot after shot.
http://www.csnwashington.com/pages/landing_capitals?blockID=246785&tagID=10482

WATHIER STILL ON DALLAS’ RADAR AFTER BIG YEAR IN AHL – DallasStars.com
By the time they reach the age of 25, conventional wisdom dictates that most NHL prospects should have already established themselves with the big club if they’re ever going to, but there are plenty of cases where some late bloomers take a little longer to develop and eventually evolve into valuable players at the big-league level. The Dallas Stars still believe that Francis Wathier belongs in the latter category.
http://stars.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=531002

AROUND THE AHL: STARS TAKE ADVANTAGE – TheHockeyNews.com
Two themes emerged early in the 2009-10 American League season as the Hershey Bears tore up opposing defenses and threatened to completely rewrite the league’s record book: The Bears seemed a solid bet to bring the Calder Cup final back to the Keystone State for the seventh season in a row, and anything short of a second consecutive Calder Cup championship for the Bears would be considered a severe disappointment.
http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/33935-Around-the-AHL-Stars-stake-advantage.html

EAKIN USES SPEED, SMARTS TO PROVE A SMART CHOICE FOR CAPS – CSNWashington.com
What a swing of emotions it must have been for two Washington Capitals prospects in their Regina, Sask., hotel room in December. Cody Eakin and Stefan Della Rovere, roommates during Canada’s selection camp for the 2010 world junior championship team, received very different phone calls. Della Rovere, a year older and a veteran of the 2009 squad, found out he was on the team for a second straight tournament. Eakin found out he was going home.
http://www.csnwashington.com/pages/landing_capitals?blockID=247261&tagID=10482

FORMER GRIFFINS KOPECKY, LEINO MAKE AN IMPACT IN STANLEY CUP FINALS – Grand Rapids Press
The paths of Tomas Kopecky and Ville Leino crossed a few times during their short tenure together with the Detroit Red Wings. They’re seeing each other a lot more often these days as opponents in the Stanley Cup finals. The two forwards are no strangers to the Stanley Cup stage thanks to the Red Wings’ recent back-to-back runs to the finals, but both are making more significant contributions than ever they did with Detroit.
http://www.mlive.com/griffins/index.ssf/2010/06/ex-griffins_tomas_kopecky_vill.html


FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
AHL alumni scored all eight goals and recorded six assists in Philadelphia’s 5-3 win over Chicago in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals last night… Mike Richards, Matt Carle, Claude Giroux, Ville Leino and Jeff Carter scored for the Flyers, while Patrick Sharp, David Bolland and Brian Campbell had the Blackhawks goals… Michael Leighton, the AHL’s Goaltender of the Year in 2008, made 31 saves in the victory.


BY THE NUMBERS:
8 – Teams in AHL history who have lost the first two games of a Calder Cup Finals on home ice, a fate Hershey is looking to avoid tonight… All eight teams went on to lose the series.

10,505 – Attendance in Game 1 on Thursday night, the ninth consecutive crowd of over 10,000 and the eighth sellout to watch a Finals game at Giant Center since 2006.


ON THIS DATE:
June 5, 1999 – Current Texas captain Landon Wilson scores a goal as Providence defeats Rochester, 4-2, in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals.

June 5, 1998Jim Montgomery’s hat trick leads Philadelphia to a 6-4 win over Saint John and a 3-1 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals.

June 5, 1997 – In Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals, Kent Hulst nets the winning goal in Portland’s 3-2 win over Rochester, cutting the Americans’ series lead to two games to one.


AHL CHAT ROOM:
Texas Stars forward Jamie Benn steps into the AHL Chat Room on Tuesday, June 8, to answer fans’ questions… Visit theahl.com to submit questions for Jamie.


AHL LIVE:
Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2010 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.