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.
Game 5 – Hamilton 5, ABBOTSFORD 2 (HAM leads series, 3-2)
SATURDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Andre Benoit fired home the game-winner with 3:23 remaining as Hamilton rallied for a 5-2 win in Abbotsford and a 3-2 series lead heading home.
2. Mike Glumac scored the first two of the Bulldogs’ five unanswered goals after spotting the Heat a 2-0 lead.
3. Making his first appearance since being injured on Mar. 27, Curtis Sanford stopped 30 of 32 shots for Hamilton.
TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 6 – Texas at Chicago, 4:00 (TEX leads series, 3-2)
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Worcester Sharks vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs
Game 1 – Sun., Apr. 25 – WORCESTER 4, Manchester 3
Game 2 – Wed., Apr. 28 – Manchester 3, WORCESTER 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Fri., Apr. 30 – MANCHESTER 5, Worcester 0
Game 4 – Sat., May 1 – Worcester 3, MANCHESTER 2
Game 5 – Wed., May 5 – Manchester 1, WORCESTER 0
Game 6 – Fri., May 7 – MANCHESTER 2, Worcester 1 (OT)
East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E2-Albany River Rats
Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 24 – HERSHEY 4, Albany 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 25 – HERSHEY 6, Albany 3
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 27 – Hershey 6, ALBANY 5 (OT)
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 29 – Hershey 5, ALBANY 4 (OT)
North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. vs. N3-Abbotsford Heat
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 29 – Abbotsford 3, HAMILTON 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 2 – HAMILTON 3, Abbotsford 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 4 – Hamilton 3, ABBOTSFORD 2
Game 4 – Thu., May 6 – ABBOTSFORD 4, Hamilton 1
Game 5 – Sat., May 8 – Hamilton 5, ABBOTSFORD 2
Game 6 – Mon., May 10 – Abbotsford at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 7 – Tue., May 11 – Abbotsford at Hamilton, 7:30
West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Chicago Wolves vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 30 – Texas 4, CHICAGO 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Sun., May 2 – CHICAGO 4, Texas 3 (2OT)
Game 3 – Tue., May 4 – Chicago 5, TEXAS 3
Game 4 – Wed., May 5 – TEXAS 3, Chicago 2
Game 5 – Fri., May 7 – TEXAS 5, Chicago 3
Game 6 – Sun., May 9 – Texas at Chicago, 4:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 11 – Texas at Chicago, 8:00
Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs
Game 1 – Wed., May 12 – Manchester at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 15 – Manchester at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., May 17 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
Game 4 – Tue., May 18 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 5 – Thu., May 20 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 22 – Manchester at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sun., May 23 – Manchester at Hershey, 5:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 6 – Texas at Chicago, 4:00 (TEX leads series, 3-2)
Texas can become the first team to punch its ticket to the Western Conference Finals this afternoon with another victory over Chicago in Game 6 of the West Division Finals… The Stars fell behind 2-1 in the series but won back-to-back games on home ice to take a 3-2 advantage, most recently a 5-3 triumph on Friday night… Rookie Jamie Benn figured into all five goals in that victory, registering a hat trick and adding two assists for a five-point night… Benn’s five points tied an AHL postseason high, initially accomplished by Hershey’s Chris Bourque on Apr. 29 vs. Albany… Benn, who had been scoreless in three straight games prior to Friday’s explosion, paces Texas and ranks tied for fourth in the league with 13 points (7-6-13) in nine playoff games thus far, and his seven goals and 13 points each lead all rookies… Perttu Lindgren posted a goal and an assist for the Stars in Game 5, and Aaron Gagnon rounded out the offense… Both Lindgren and Gagnon show three goals and one assist through the first five games of this series… Stars defenseman Andrew Hutchinson has registered a point in six of his last seven outings (3-5-8), and fellow rearguard Dan Jancevski is now riding a three-game scoring streak (1-3-4)… Goaltender Brent Krahn set a personal playoff high with 43 saves on 46 shots to pick up the victory in Game 5 for the Stars, and he now ranks third in the AHL in goals-against average (2.28) and fourth in save percentage (.930) in nine postseason appearances (7-2)… Anthony Stewart scored a pair of goals for the Wolves on Friday night, giving him five goals and seven points through the first five games of this series after totaling three points – all goals – in Chicago’s seven-game division semifinal victory over Milwaukee… Tim Stapleton, who also scored in the losing effort, shows a point in three of his last four games (1-3-4)… Wolves forward Jason Krog and defenseman Nathan Oystrick chipped in an assist apiece; Krog is now on a five-game scoring streak (2-4-6), while Oystrick has a point in his last three contests (2-2-4)… Chicago is an impressive 10-4 all-time when facing Calder Cup Playoff elimination and has not been knocked out on home ice since dropping Game 6 of the 2004 West Division Finals to Milwaukee on May 14, 2004… Texas is bidding to become the first AHL team to advance to the conference finals in its inaugural season since the 2002-03 Binghamton Senators.
BENOIT’S LATE GOAL SINKS HEAT – Abbotsford News
If the Abbotsford Heat’s inaugural season comes to an end in the North Division final, they’ll look back at Game 5 as the one that got away. The Heat built a 2-0 lead at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre on Saturday evening, but the Hamilton Bulldogs rallied for a 5-2 victory. Andre Benoit struck the decisive blow for the Bulldogs, scoring the game-winner with 3:23 left in regulation.
BULLDOGS PULL OUT COMEBACK WIN IN ABBOTSFORD – Hamilton Spectator
The Hamilton Bulldogs can sew up their AHL North Division final with a win at home Monday night over the Abbotsford Heat. The Dogs overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Heat 5-2 at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre Saturday to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series.
DOGS TAKE IT TO THE HEAT – Calgary Herald
For every step the Abbotsford Heat take forward, they seem to take another step back. After drawing even in Game 4 on Thursday, the Calgary Flames farm club dropped a 5-2 decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game 5 on Saturday night. After going 1-2 at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, the Heat try to stave off elimination in the best-of-seven North Division final series which returns to Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum for the sixth and, possibly, seventh games.
BENOIT LEADS BULLDOGS OVER HEAT – Canadian Press
Andre Benoit scored the game winner late in the third as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Abbotsford Heat 5-2 on Saturday in Abbotsford, B.C., to take a 3-2 lead in the American Hockey League North Division final. With the score 2-2, the Bulldogs defenseman wired a shot off the faceoff past Heat netminder David Shantz at 16:37.
HOLE TRUTH: WOLVES ARE IN IT – Chicago Sun-Times
If the Wolves are to win another Calder Cup, they will have to do it the hard way. Trailing 3-2 in their best-of-seven West Division final against the Texas Stars, the Wolves must win Game 6 this afternoon and Game 7 Tuesday night. Both games are scheduled for Allstate Arena. “We’ve dug a hole for ourselves,” Wolves captain Jason Krog said. “But we’re happy that we’ve brought the series back on our home ice, and we are confident in our ability.”
HIGH-SCORING BEARS STILL DOING IT – Lebanon Daily News
There was an interesting postseason stat floating around the AHL last week. Four members of the Hershey Bears had outscored an entire team through each of the teams’ first nine playoff games. Alexandre Giroux, Andrew Gordon, Chris Bourque and Keith Aucoin had combined to score 24 goals in two series victories for the Bears, while the Abbotsford Heat had posted 23 goals in their first nine games. The production of those four Hershey players is not surprising considering the success of each individual through the record-setting season the Bears have posted.
BEARS FINALLY KNOW THEIR FOE – Harrisburg Patriot-News
While the Hershey Bears waited for the Atlantic Division finals to conclude, Mark French and Troy Mann flipped a coin to determine who would do scouting prep work on each team. Head coach French drew Worcester. Assistant coach Mann drew Manchester. “We both broke down four games,” French said. Mann’s work, it turns out, wasn’t in vain. Manchester ousted Worcester Friday night to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against Hershey.
ENNIS, GERBE ARE SABRES’ LITTLE BIG MEN – Buffalo News
Tyler Ennis came to Buffalo as an injury replacement and wound up being irreplaceable. It was a bit of a shock, though it shouldn’t have been. The kid with the baby face and maturing skills has a history of surprising people. He weighed just 147 pounds on NHL draft day, yet he went in the first round to the Sabres. He looked flustered during the first four games of his pro career, yet he rebounded to be named American Hockey League Rookie of the Year.
HE’S BEEN JOHNNY ON THE SPOT FOR B’S – Worcester Telegram & Gazette
There were plenty of questions surrounding the Bruins entering the NHL playoffs. But questions also pop up during the playoffs. Like, for instance: When did Johnny Boychuk turn into a force to be reckoned with and someone not to be messed with? For all the adulation heaped on the likes of Tuukka Rask, Mark Recchi and Miroslav Satan, Boychuk has had an equally important impact during the Bruins’ surprising spring.
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
In Saturday’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, Jason Demers picked up an assist and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 33 of 34 shots in net as San Jose edged Detroit by a 2-1 count to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2004… 1994 Calder Cup champion Sergei Gonchar notched the eventual game-winning goal and Mark Letestu assisted on the tally, helping Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win over Montreal and a 3-2 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.
Andres Ambuhl registered a goal and an assist to lead Switzerland to a 3-1 win over Latvia at the IIHF World Championships in Germany… Frans Neilsen (2-0-2) and Peter Regin (1-0-1) combined for a trio of goals as Denmark rolled past Finland by a 4-1 count… 2005 AHL Rookie of the Year Rene Bourque posted a goal and an assist as Canada captured a 5-1 victory over Italy.
71.4 – Texas’ penalty-killing percentage thus far in the Calder Cup Playoffs, after ranking second in the AHL with an 86.4 percent conversion rate during the regular season.
ON THIS DATE:
May 9, 2009 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hands Hershey a third straight loss, 4-1, to take a 3-2 series lead in the East Division Finals… The Bears have gone 18-4 in 22 postseason games since.
May 9, 2008 – Andrew Ebbett records three assists as Portland defeats Providence, 5-4, to win the Atlantic Division finals in six games.
May 9, 2001 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton plays its fifth consecutive overtime game and wins its fourth straight, both AHL records, defeating Hershey by a score of 5-4… Michal Rozsival caps a four-point night with the game-winner in OT for the Penguins.
May 9, 1980 – Future Calder Cup winning head coach Claude Noel scores the winning goal in Hershey’s 5-3 win over the New Brunswick Hawks in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals.
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