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AHL Morning Skate: Bulldogs on the verge


Every morning, take 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.


2007 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
2007 Calder Cup Final – Series "O" (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. N3-Hamilton Bulldogs || Preview
Game 1 – Fri., June 1 – Hamilton 4, HERSHEY 0
Game 2 – Sat., June 2 – HERSHEY 4, Hamilton 2
Game 3 – Mon., June 4 – HAMILTON 5, Hershey 2
Game 4 – Wed., June 6 – HAMILTON 6, Hershey 2 (HAM leads series, 3-1)
Game 5 – Thu., June 7 – Hershey at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 6 – Tue., June 12 – Hamilton at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Fri., June 15 – Hamilton at Hershey, 7:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern


WEDNESDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Mikhail Grabovski’s goal 2:07 in sets the stage for Hamilton’s Game 4 win.

2. Eric Manlow pots the game-winning goal and adds an assist for the Bulldogs on Wednesday.

3. Three-assist night gives Andre Benoit six points in the last three games.


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
her-ham8_200.jpgGame 5 – Hershey at Hamilton, 7:30 (HAM leads series, 3-1)
TV: ABC27 Harrisburg with John Walton and Gregg Mace
Video Webcast: B2 Networks
Radio:
XM 204, 100.1 FM/960 AM (Hershey), 820 AM (Hamilton)
Official Media Notes (PDF – 404 KB)

Hamilton took a 3-1 lead in the 2007 Calder Cup Finals with a 6-2 win over Hershey last night… The Bulldogs are one victory away from their first championship, with Game 5 set for Copps Coliseum tonight… Duncan Milroy recorded a goal and two assists – his first points of the series – along with a plus-4 rating in Game 4… Defenseman Dan Jancevski added two more assists for his fourth straight two-point game… Andre Benoit recorded three assists, giving him six points (1g, 5a) in the last three games… Carey Price (14-6) made 33 saves in Game 4, and now has a 2.01 GAA and .950 save percentage in the Finals… Jakub Klepis scored his fourth goal in three games for the Bears… Hamilton is 7-for-26 on the power play in the series (26.9 percent); Hershey is 3-for-33 (9.1 percent)… The Bulldogs have outscored the Bears 15-4 in their three wins… Hershey is 7-5 this postseason when outshooting its opponent, and 5-0 when outshot… Hamilton has allowed a total of eight goals in its last six home games… Excluding shootouts, Hershey has lost three straight games only once all season: Jan. 3-6, 2007… Thirteen teams in AHL history have won a series after trailing, 3-1; in a Calder Cup Final, it’s happened only three times, and not since 1949.


MORNING HEADLINES:

DOGS CAN SMELL CALDER CUP WIN
Garry McKay, Hamilton Spectator
The Calder Cup is in the building. The Hamilton Bulldogs really don’t want to know this but American Hockey League officials will have the championship trophy on hand tonight at Copps Coliseum as the Dogs try and win their first Calder Cup Championship. The Bulldogs beat the Hershey Bears 6-2 last night to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. “It wasn’t long after the game, maybe five minutes, before somebody said ‘take a deep breath because we haven’t won anything yet,’” said Eric Manlow who scored what turned out to the winning goal at 4:51 of the second period. … Link

HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Scott Radley, Hamilton Spectator
Back in Hershey, the Bears’ marketing staff has been running a campaign called ‘Let’s Make History.’ Because if they win this year, they pass Cleveland to become the city with the most Calder Cup championships. But tonight, the team with a chance to do something historic is the Hamilton Bulldogs. A win in Game 5 and this city will have its first professional hockey championship since … well … since ever. The Hamilton Tigers came close in 1925, but they decided not to play in the Stanley Cup finals and took their act to New York the next season. And the Hamilton Canucks? They never won a single playoff game in their short history. … Link

A LEGEND IN THE MAKING
Steve Milton, Hamilton Spectator
He was always out there, Marietta Cahoose recalls. Always. “I remember him on the outdoor rink his father built in the back yard, on the outdoor rink at the school in town, on the outdoor rink at the reserve,” says the education director of the Ulkatcho Band of the Carrier Nation. “The kids wouldn’t go out there till it was 30 below.” Carey Price, the unflappable Hamilton Bulldogs’ goaltender who has won a legion of admirers with one of the most decorated hockey seasons in the history of 19-year-olds, grew up with Cahoose’s kids in the tiny community of Anahim Lake in northern British Columbia. The town, and the reserve adjacent to it, are in the Chilcotin wilderness, 320 kilometres beyond Williams Lake, home of the closest minor hockey organization. … Link

PRICE IS RIGHT AS BULLDOGS CLOSE IN
Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette
Rollie Melanson nodded approvingly as he watched rookie goaltender Carey Price turn in another stellar performance. “He looks like the real deal,” said the Canadiens goaltending coach after Price stopped 33 shots in the Hamilton Bulldogs’ 6-2 win over the Hershey Bears last night at Copps Coliseum. “To be 19 years old and play at this level is pretty remarkable,” Melanson said of Price, who gave the underdog Bulldogs a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Calder Cup final. The Canadiens’ No. 1 farm club can wrap up the American Hockey League title here tonight, and if they do, Price is a shoo-in to be named the most valuable player in the playoffs. … Link

ONE MORE CHANCE
Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
In an odd parallel to 1997, the Calder Cup can be clinched in Game 5 tonight at Copps Coliseum. However, it’s the Hamilton Bulldogs, not the Hershey Bears, who can do the clinching. Hamilton, playing its most disciplined game of the Calder Cup final, beat the Bears 6-2 in Game 4 last night to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Bears still can force a return to Giant Center with a win tonight, but they face daunting odds. Only three teams have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the final to win the Cup, and it hasn’t happened in 58 years. “We’ve got a lot of character guys and a lot of veterans on this team right now that there’s no way shape or form that we’re going to let that [elimination] happen, I think,” Bears centerman Dave Steckel said. … Link

HAMILTON GETS BIG RESULTS BY PERFECTING SMALL STUFF
Michael Bullock, Harrisburg Patriot-News
As they stood in the crowded bowels of Copps Coliseum last night, a 6-2 steamrolling of the Hershey Bears etched in the American Hockey League’s well-aged record books, no secret formulas were revealed. Even a relentless group of Hamilton Bulldogs, the guys who now own a commanding 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven Calder Cup championship series, weren’t trying to hide a thing from anyone who asked. Why should they? They’d just kicked the Bears’ befuddled butts for the second time in three frustrating nights by doing exactly the same things that dispatched the defending Calder Cup champs to their nearby hotel searching for answers. … Link

BULLDOGS WITHIN ONE WIN OF CALDER CUP
Canadian Press
They may have come into the Calder Cup final as underdogs, but the Hamilton Bulldogs have the defending American Hockey League champion Hershey Bears on the ropes. Mikhail Grabovski, Matt D’Agostini and Eric Manlow had a goal and an assist each in a 6-2 win over the Bears Wednesday, giving Hamilton a 3-1 stranglehold in the Calder Cup final. The Bulldogs, who finished third in the AHL’s North Division with a 43-28-3-6 record, have yet to trail in any of their four series and can secure the franchise’s first AHL title with another victory Thursday at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton (7:30 p.m. ET). “We were about tonight’s game and that was it,” said Manlow, suggesting the Bulldogs clearly weren’t looking beyond Game 4. … Link

WHICH BEARS WILL SHOW UP TONIGHT?
Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
Bruce Boudreau couldn’t understand it. The head coach of the Hershey Bears had watched his team bounce back from a 4-0 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the opening game of the Calder Cup finals to post a decisive 4-2 win in Game 2. Then, when the teams squared off at Copps Coliseum on Monday night for Game 3, the Bears again looked lethargic. The result was a 5-2 loss that gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. “We weren’t very good,” Boudreau said as the Bears prepared for practice yesterday. “We gave them a lot of their opportunities. They really worked hard. They’re a tough team to beat.” And Boudreau was at a loss for answers. … Link

BULLDOGS BEAT BEARS, PUSH HERSHEY TO THE BRINK
Mike Vogel, WashingtonCaps.com
Rarely have the Hershey Bears found themselves with their backs against the proverbial wall during the playoffs over the past two springs. The Bears ran up a 16-5 record on their way to the 2006 Calder Cup championship, and came into this year’s final series with a 12-2 mark in the 2007 postseason. They played only one game in 38 in which a loss would have eliminated them. That was before the Bears ran into the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2007 Calder Cup final. The Dogs administered a third thorough thrashing in four games to Hershey here on Wednesday, this one by a 6-2 score, pushing the Bears to the brink of elimination. … Link

CUP CLOSE ENOUGH TO HOLD
Lindsay Kramer, Syracuse Post-Standard
The rules of NHL karma mandate that hockey players don’t touch the Stanley Cup unless they’ve earned the right to raise it in victory. Thinking about it is OK, though. That’s what has fueled the rise of thousands of players worldwide from backyard ponds to the most lavish rinks in North America. Former Syracuse Crunch right winger Joe Motzko set himself up for that reality Monday night in Ottawa when he played 2 minutes, 46 seconds for Anaheim in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Senators. … Link

BERUBE WILL COACH THE PHANTOMS
Philadelphia Inquirer Staff
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced yesterday that Craig Berube has been named head coach of the Phantoms, the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate. He also announced that Joe Mullen and Jack McIlhargey have been named assistant coaches for the Flyers, that Kjell Samuelsson was named associate coach for the Phantoms, and that Neil Little will join the Phantoms as goaltending coach. Berube, 41, returns to the Phantoms after serving as their head coach for the first six games of the 2006-07 season. He compiled a 3-2-1 record before being named an assistant coach for the Flyers on Oct. 23. … Link


FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
Anaheim’s AHL graduates accounted for five goals and four assists as the Ducks captured the Stanley Cup championship with a 6-2 win over Ottawa on Wednesday night… Ducks defenseman Joe DiPenta joined an exclusive group of players who have won both a Calder Cup and a Stanley Cup in their careers, a group that includes Ace Bailey, Johnny Bower, Adam Graves, Larry Robinson, Patrick Roy and Billy Smith… DiPenta won an AHL championship with Chicago in 2002… Link

BY THE NUMBERS:
2 – Goaltenders in AHL history who have led their team to a Calder Cup championship as a teenager… Hamilton’s Carey Price, 19, is one win away from joining 19-year-old Patrick Roy (Sherbrooke, 1985) and 18-year-old Gordie Bell (Buffalo, 1943).


ON THIS DATE:
June 7, 2003
– Houston grabs a 3-2 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals with a 6-4 win over Hamilton in the last game ever played at the Compaq Center.

June 7, 1998Martin St. Louis records three assists as Saint John avoids elimination with a 6-1 home win over Philadelphia in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals.

June 7, 1997 – After a wild third period that saw five goals scored in the final 12:12 of regulation, Mike McHugh scores 56 seconds into overtime to give Hershey a 6-5 win over Hamilton and a 2-0 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals.


ON THE AIR:
B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer, web-enabled cell phone or PDA throughout the Calder Cup Playoffs with live video webcasts of every AHL game… Visit caldercup.com for details.