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AHL Morning Skate: Playoffs have the need for seeds


Every morning 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.


FRIDAY’S SCORES:
BRIDGEPORT 4, Springfield 3
Hamilton 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2
LOWELL 3, Hartford 2 (SO)
PORTLAND 6, Providence 5
TORONTO 4, Manitoba 3 (OT)
Norfolk 6, BINGHAMTON 1
PHILADELPHIA 5, Hershey 2
W-B/SCRANTON 4, Albany 2
Manchester 3, WORCESTER 1
ROCHESTER 2, Syracuse 0
MILWAUKEE 3, Chicago 1
QUAD CITY 3, Iowa 2 (SO)
ROCKFORD 2, Peoria 1 (SO)
San Antonio 3, HOUSTON 2 (OT)


FRIDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Rob Sirianni tallied a hat trick to help Philadelphia clinch a playoff spot with a 5-2 win over Hershey.

2. Bates Battaglia’s overtime goal completed a three-point night and sent Toronto to a 4-3 win over Manitoba and a spot in the playoffs.

3. Mathieu Darche netted a pair of goals as Portland wrapped up the final spot in the Atlantic Division with a 6-5 win over Providence.


SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Hamilton at Toronto, 5:00
Binghamton at Albany, 7:00
Lowell at Bridgeport, 7:00
Springfield at Hartford, 7:00
Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
Portland at Manchester, 7:00
Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Providence at Worcester, 7:05
Manitoba at Lake Erie, 7:30
Rochester at Syracuse, 7:30
Rockford at Chicago, 8:00
Grand Rapids at Peoria, 8:00
Houston at San Antonio, 8:00
Quad City at Iowa, 8:05


CALDER CUP PLAYOFF RACES:
Click here for up-to-date AHL standings

OVERALL
1. Milwaukee clinches the overall points title with a Manitoba loss (regulation/OT/SO) at Lake Erie and a Hershey regulation loss vs. Philadelphia
2. Manitoba clinches the overall points title with a win at Lake Erie and a Hershey loss (regulation/OT/SO) vs. Philadelphia

ATLANTIC DIVISION
1. Hartford has clinched the division title; Providence has clinched second place
2. Portland and Worcester have clinched playoff berths
3. Portland clinches third place with (a) a win at Manchester, or (b) a Worcester regulation loss vs. Providence, or (c) an OTL/SOL at Manchester and a Worcester OTL/SOL vs. Providence
4. Worcester clinches third place with (a) a win vs. Providence and a Portland loss (regulation/OT/SO) at Manchester, or (b) an OTL/SOL vs. Providence and a Portland regulation loss at Manchester

EAST DIVISION
1. Hershey, Bridgeport, W-B/Scranton and Philadelphia have all clinched playoff berths
2. Hershey clinches the division title with (a) a win vs. Philadelphia and a W-B/Scranton loss (regulation/OT/SO) vs. Norfolk, or (b) an OTL/SOL vs. Philadelphia and a W-B/Scranton regulation loss vs. Norfolk and a Bridgeport loss (regulation/OT/SO) vs. Lowell

NORTH DIVISION
1. Manitoba has clinched first place, and will face Toronto in the first round beginning Wednesday
2. Hamilton has clinched second place, and will face Grand Rapids in the first round beginning Friday

WEST DIVISION
1. Milwaukee has clinched first place; Peoria has clinched second place
2. Houston and Rockford have clinched playoff berths
3. Houston clinches third place with a win at San Antonio and a Rockford regulation loss at Chicago
4. Rockford clinches third place with (a) a win at Chicago and a Houston loss (regulation/OT/SO) at San Antonio, or (b) an OTL/SOL at Chicago and a Houston regulation loss at San Antonio


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
HaCC09ad_300x250.jpgmilton at Toronto, 5:00
Provincial rivals Hamilton and Toronto conclude their 12-game season series this afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum… Both the Bulldogs and Marlies are postseason-bound in the North Division, the first time both squads have advanced to the playoffs in the same season… Hamilton has won 13 of its last 19 games (13-4-2-0) to lock up second place in the North… Rookie David Desharnais has a point in four of his last five tilts (4-4-8) for the Bulldogs, and Mike Glumac shows six points (2-4-6) in his last four contests… Marlies leading scorer Tim Stapleton has racked up four goals and six points in his last two outings… Jeremy Williams has eight goals (8-2-10) in just six games against Hamilton.

Binghamton at Albany, 7:00
Binghamton and Albany conclude their respective seasons tonight at the Times Union Center… Binghamton will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year, while the River Rats are out for the first time since 2006… The Sens have won two of their three games in Albany this season but dropped their last visit, a 4-1 decision on Jan. 24… Defenseman Derek Smith is on a five-game scoring streak (2-3-5) for Binghamton… Rookie Zack Smith (3-3-6) and captain Denis Hamel (2-4-6) have a team-high six points against Albany… Jakub Petruzalek shows three points (1-2-3) in his last two contests for the River Rats; Petruzalek leads the team overall with 54 points (19-35-54) in 76 games.

Lowell at Bridgeport, 7:00
Tied with Hershey for first place in the East Division, Bridgeport concludes its regular season by hosting Lowell tonight at the Arena at Harbor Yard… The Sound Tigers have won four straight games since a 5-3 loss to the Devils in Lowell on Mar. 29… Jon Sim has a point in all four victories and is on a six-game scoring streak overall (5-6-11)… Rookie Jesse Joensuu has a point in three straight games (2-3-5) for Bridgeport, which is 28-7-1-3 at home this season… At 35-35-2-7, Lowell can finish the season above the .500 mark with a win… Defenseman Tyler Eckford had a pair of shootout goals in Friday’s 3-2 triumph over Hartford… Matt Halischuk has a point in three of his last four games (2-1-3).

Springfield at Hartford, 7:00
Hartford concludes its regular season by hosting division rival Springfield for the first time since Jan. 16… The Wolf Pack are 7-1-0-1 against the Falcons this season and 16-2-0-1 over the past two campaigns… Hartford has captured its first division title since 2004 and will battle either Portland or Worcester in the division semifinals… Artem Anisimov paces the Pack with 36 goals and 80 points while playing all 79 games, and he shows 10 points (5-5-10) in nine match-ups with Springfield…Falcons forward Ryan Potulny (37-23-60) needs two goals to tie the team-record 39 scored by John LeBlanc in 1994-95… Potulny has racked up 10 goals and 16 points in his last 11 contests.

Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00

Fresh off its playoff-clinching 5-2 win over Hershey on Friday, Philadelphia heads west to conclude its regular season in Chocolatetown tonight… The Phantoms are on an eight-game points streak (7-0-0-1) and are 11-2-0-3 in their last 16 outings… Rob Sirianni has two hat tricks in his past eight games for the Phantoms, including one last night… Ex-Bear Boyd Kane has 10 points (2-8-10) in his last eight tilts for Philadelphia… AHL MVP Alexandre Giroux of Hershey leads the league with 58 goals and 95 points, and he has a point in nine of his last 10 games (11-6-17)… The Bears are trying to lock down the East Division title, which would set up a date with the Phantoms in the division semifinals.

Portland at Manchester, 7:00
Out of the playoffs for the first time in eight AHL seasons, Manchester wraps up its schedule by hosting Portland tonight… The Monarchs have gone 4-8-0-2 down the stretch following a six-game winning streak in early March… Matt Moulson has a goal in two straight games (2-1-3) and a point in five of his last six (4-4-8) for Manchester, and captain Marty Murray shows a point in four of five (1-4-5)… Portland has clinched a playoff spot but can still finish either third or fourth in the Atlantic Division… Mathieu Darche has seven goals (7-1-8) in his last five games for the Pirates… Portland has the AHL’s top-ranked penalty kill on the road (88.1 percent).

Norfolk at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:05
Fresh off a 6-1 win at Binghamton on Friday, its highest goal output in a game since Dec. 27, Norfolk wraps up its season at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight… The Admirals will miss the playoffs for the second straight year after seven consecutive appearances… Justin Keller has five points (2-3-5) in his last two games for Norfolk… The Penguins have dropped just one game in regulation to the Admirals in their last 18 meetings at Wachovia Arena (15-1-2-0)… The Pens are 5-0-1-1 in their last seven tilts overall and are trying to stay in the race for their second straight East Division crown… Mark Letestu has netted a goal in three of his last four games (3-0-3).

Providence at Worcester, 7:05
A potential first-round playoff preview pits Providence against Worcester at the DCU Center… The Sharks would need to pass Portland for third place tonight in order to set up the playoff date with the second-place Bruins… Worcester scored three third-period goals to take a 4-2 win in the teams’ last clash on Mar. 29 in Rhode Island, which snapped the Sharks’ seven-game winless skid (0-6-0-1) in the season series… Sharks rookie Jamie McGinn has six goals in seven games against Providence this season… Bruins rookie Brad Marchand shows five points (2-3-5) in his last four games, and captain Jeremy Reich has netted three goals in the last two contests.

Manitoba at Lake Erie, 7:30
North Division champion Manitoba visits Cleveland to take on Lake Erie in its regular-season finale… The Moose have matched their season high with a four-game winless skid (0-3-0-1), including a 4-3 overtime loss to future playoff foe Toronto on Friday… Jason Krog ranks third in the AHL with 85 points (30-55-85) in 73 games for Manitoba… The Moose are 9-1-1-0 all-time against Lake Erie, including 3-0-0-0 this season… The Monsters will finish sixth in the North Division for the second straight year… Philippe Dupuis paces Lake Erie with 46 points (17-29-46) and a plus-12 rating in 66 games… A near-capacity crowd is expected at the 19,000-seat Quicken Loans Arena.

Rochester at Syracuse, 7:30
Rochester and Syracuse conclude their home-and-home set, and their seasons, tonight at the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter… Amerks goaltender David Shantz made 30 saves in a 2-0 win on Friday in Rochester, which knocked the Crunch out of playoff contention… Randell Gelech has a goal in three of his last four tilts (3-1-4) for the Americans… Syracuse has won 11 straight home games over Rochester since a 5-2 loss on Apr. 14, 2007… Crunch forward Derek MacKenzie shows a team-high nine points (4-5-9) in 10 games against the Amerks this season… The Crunch are 24-11-3-1 overall at home for the campaign.

Rockford at Chicago, 8:00

Intra-state rivals Rockford wrap up the regular season with their 10th meeting of the campaign but first since Jan. 16… The IceHogs haven’t traveled to Allstate Arena since coming away with a 3-2 triumph on Jan. 2… Rockford clinched a playoff spot on Friday but is still trying to secure the third seed in the West Division… Captain Tim Brent has a point in four of his last five games (0-5-5) for the IceHogs, and Jack Skille leads the team with 12 points (5-7-12) in nine match-ups with the Wolves this season… Chicago is 4-10-1-1 in its last 16 games and is coming off a 3-1 loss in Milwaukee on Friday… Jordan LaVallee netted the Wolves’ lone goal in that contest.

Grand Rapids at Peoria, 8:00
Grand Rapids visits Peoria on Saturday in a conference battle of playoff-bound teams… The Griffins and Rivermen are both headed to the postseason after missing out last season… Grand Rapids is just 1-5-0-0 in its last six games and will finish third in the North Division after occupying first or second place nearly all season long… Evan McGrath (2-3-5) and rookie Francis Pare (2-3-5) each have five points in five tilts against Peoria on the campaign… The Rivermen are coming off consecutive 2-1 shootout losses but are 6-0-0-2 in their last eight contests… Peoria defenseman Jonas Junland has scored four of his 12 goals this season against the Griffins (4-2-6 in 5 GP).

Houston at San Antonio, 8:00
Houston and San Antonio continue their three-game weekend set tonight at the AT&T Center in the Rampage’s home finale… San Antonio rookie Chad Kolarik scored twice, including the overtime winner, in Friday’s 3-2 triumph in Houston, which marked the Rampage’s sixth straight victory and ninth in their last 10 games (9-1-0-0)… The Rampage are three points back of Chicago for seventh place in the West Division with two games to play… The Aeros clinched a playoff spot on Friday but are just 1-5-1-1 in their last eight games… Krys Kolanos netted a pair of goals in Friday’s loss in his first game back following an NHL stint with Minnesota; Kolanos boasts a team-high 28 goals in just 44 AHL games for the season (28-20-48)

Quad City at Iowa, 8:05
Quad City and Iowa conclude their seasons with the back end of a home-and-home set tonight at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines… The Flames are 7-1-0-1 in their last nine games but were eliminated from postseason contention on Friday despite a 3-2 shootout win over the Chops… Dustin Boyd, who spent most of the year in the NHL with Calgary, has a goal in two straight games for Quad City… Kyle Greentree continues to rank second in the AHL with 39 goals (39-34-73) for the Flames… The Chops are just 1-3-0-2 in their last six outings and have dropped three straight at home (0-2-0-1) since a 2-1 win over Quad City on Mar. 21… T.J. Trevelyan leads Iowa’s active roster with 23 goals (23-24-47) in 75 games this season.


MORNING HEADLINES:

PHANTOMS WIN IN THE FINAL GAME AT THE SPECTRUM
Bob Cooney, Philadelphia Daily News
The building that housed the hockey games that taught Philadelphia fans about the sport hosted its final regular-season game last night. And the Phantoms made it a happy goodbye as they held on to beat the Hershey Bears, 5-2. It was a terrific send-off in every way, not only for the 42-year-old building, but for the Phantoms, the Flyers’ 13-year AHL affiliate, who have called the Spectrum home since 1996. Last night, tailgaters were in full party mode 2-1/2 hours before the game. Lou Nolan was at the microphone, former Flyers great and Phantoms head coach Bill Barber was in the building, and each of the 17,380 seats had a butt attached. It was like old times, even if the home team wore purple and orange instead of orange and black.
http://www.philly.com/dailynews/sports/20090411_Phantoms_win_in_the_final_game_at_the_Spectrum.html

ICEHOGS PLAYOFF-BOUND
Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star
When neither Peoria nor Rockford won in regulation Friday, at that point, both teams had won. Peoria had clinched second place and home-ice in the playoffs; Rockford had secured its postseason berth. Both AHL teams needed one point and couldn’t have been happier. The IceHogs eventually posting a 2-1 shootout victory just added to the celebratory mood the team was in after 60 minutes of hockey. “It was a great feeling, probably the best I’ve ever had in a tight game,” captain Tim Brent said of knowing at that moment his team had qualified. “It’s kind of a load off our shoulders. It’s just a good feeling to know we’re in.”
http://www.rrstar.com/sports/x1579125052/IceHogs-playoff-bound

PENS CONTROL OWN DESTINY
Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizen’s Voice
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins now control their own fate in a late-season effort to win a division title. Hershey and Bridgeport are tied for first place with 104 points. The Penguins are two points back at 102. Because they hold tie-breakers over both teams, if the Penguins win their last two games – tonight at home against Norfolk and Sunday in Hershey – they will repeat as East Division champions no matter what the Bears and Sound Tigers do. “It is all up to us,” coach Todd Reirden said. “This arena has been very kind to us this year and we’re going to do everything we can to try to secure that home-ice advantage for ourselves.”
http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/04/11/sports/wb_voice.20090411.t.pg28.cv11pegamer_s1.2440706_spo1.txt

RIVERMEN PLAYOFF PUSH GETS A LIFT
Dave Eminian, Peoria Journal Star
The Peoria Rivermen blue line underwent a dynamic change Friday morning when the parent club St. Louis Blues assigned prized defense prospect Alex Pietrangelo to the AHL team. The 19-year-old, taken No. 1 by the Blues (fourth overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, made the Blues NHL roster out of training camp and played eight games for St. Louis at the start of the season before heading back to junior hockey. He is expected to make his AHL debut on Saturday, when Peoria hosts Grand Rapids in its regular-season finale.
http://www.pjstar.com/sports/x2138488515/Rivermen-playoff-push-gets-a-lift

THE PLAYOFFS ARE COMING
Paul Betit, Portland Press Herald
The Portland Pirates nailed down their berth in the Calder Cup playoffs Friday night. But they took a sold-out crowd of nearly 7,200 at the Cumberland County Civic Center on a roller-coaster ride while doing it. Rallying from a two-goal deficit, Portland skated to a 6-5 victory against the Providence Bruins to cap its first season as an affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres with a spot in the AHL playoffs. “It was a fun game,” said Portland captain Tyler Bouck. “There were times where we worked like a team that was a nervous hockey club, one that was just trying to squeak in there. At other times we controlled the play.”
http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=250256&ac=PHspt

AMERKS PLAY INSPIRED HOCKEY TO WIN HOME FINALE
Kevin Oklobzija, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Earlier this week, Rochester Americans owner Curt Styres and Florida Panthers general manager Jacques Martin promised there will be a much better product at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial next season. The players, many of whom won’t be here for the 2009-10 American Hockey League season, provided a preview on Friday night. Drew Larman‘s goal off a Janis Sprukts set-up broke a scoreless tie late in the second period, and emergency starter David Shantz stopped all 30 shots as the Amerks defeated the desperate-for-a-win Syracuse Crunch 2-0.
http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20090411/SPORTS02/904110347/1007/SPORTS


ALUMNI WATCH:
Brad Boyes recorded two assists as St. Louis clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 win over Columbus… Andrew Ebbett‘s third-period goal helped Anaheim clinch a playoff spot with a 4-3 shootout win over Dallas… Marc-Andre Bergeron scored twice as Minnesota defeated Nashville, 8-4.


BY THE NUMBERS:
0 – Teams from New York who qualified for the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs, the first time since 1972 that the state will be shut out of the postseason… The Empire State will still host AHL playoff hockey, however, as Bridgeport is scheduled to host two first-round games at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.


ON THIS DATE:
April 11, 2004Antero Niittymaki becomes the seventh goaltender in AHL history to be credited with a goal when Hershey, needing a win on the last day of the season to qualify for the playoffs, pulls its goalie in overtime and accidentally shoots the puck into its own net.

April 11, 1985 – Pat Conacher scores after 45:17 of overtime to give the Nova Scotia Oilers a 4-3 win over the Maine Mariners in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

April 11, 1937 – The Syracuse Stars win the first Calder Cup championship with a 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Ramblers.


AHL LIVE:
Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs. 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.