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AHL Morning Skate: Puck drops on Finals tonight


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.


FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 1 – Hamilton at Hershey, 7:00


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 at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., June 2 – Hamilton at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., June 4 – Hershey at Hamilton, 7:30
Game 4 – Wed., June 6 – Hershey at Hamilton, 7:30
*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

Eastern Conference Final – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A1-Manchester Monarchs
Game 1 – Sat., May 19 – HERSHEY 7, Manchester 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 20 – HERSHEY 4, Manchester 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 23 – Hershey 4, MANCHESTER 1
Game 4 – Sat., May 26 – Hershey 3, MANCHESTER 1

Western Conference Final – Series “N” (best-of-7)
W2-Chicago Wolves vs. N3-Hamilton Bulldogs
Game 1 – Fri., May 18 – Hamilton 6, CHICAGO 5 (2OT)
Game 2 – Sun., May 20 – Hamilton 3, CHICAGO 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Wed., May 23 – HAMILTON 2, Chicago 1
Game 4 – Fri., May 25 – Chicago 1, HAMILTON 0
Game 5 – Sat., May 26 – HAMILTON 3, Chicago 1

*if necessary… All times Eastern


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
her-ham2_200.jpgGame 1 –
Hamilton at Hershey, 7:00
TV: Cable 14 Hamilton with Derek Wills and Al Craig
Video Webcast: B2 Networks
Radio: XM 204, 100.1 FM/960 AM (Hershey), 820 AM (
Hamilton)
Official Media Notes (PDF – 358 KB)

Hershey and Hamilton battle for the AHL’s 71st Calder Cup championship beginning with tonight’s Game 1… The Bears are in the Finals for the 20th time in the team’s 69-year tenure in the AHL, and are looking for their record-setting 10th Cup… The Bulldogs are playing for their first championship after losing in the Finals in 1997 (vs. Hershey) and 2003 (vs. Houston)… Hershey is 12-2 this postseason, and has not lost a game in regulation since Apr. 14 at Binghamton… The Bears are averaging one loss per series over the last two postseasons (28-7)… Scott Barney and Tomas Fleischmann are the Bears’ co-leaders with 17 playoff points each… Kyle Wilson led Hershey with seven points (4g, 3a) in its four-game sweep of Manchester in the Eastern Conference Finals… Frederic Cassivi made 121 saves on 126 shots (1.25, .960) in that series; Carey Price stopped 102 of 107 shots (1.24, .953) over Hamilton’s last four games vs. Chicago in the Western Conference Finals… Twelve different Bulldogs potted goals in the five-game set with the Wolves; only Kyle Chipchura (three) scored more than once… Hamilton has won six consecutive road games and is 7-1 away from home this postseason… In Calder Cup Finals history, the Game 1 winner has taken the series 75.7 percent of the time (53 of 70), including 11 of the last 13.


MORNING HEADLINES:

A DEFINING MOMENT
Steve Milton, Hamilton Spectator
So, punch this appointment into your Palm Pilot. The Hamilton Bulldogs have a date with the Hershey Bears in June, 2017. It’s happened every 10th year of the Bulldogs’ existence. You could argue because they got together in the Dogs’ first season, it helped ensure they’d meet again in their 11th. The Calder Cup final of 1997 made American League hockey in this city. “We were very much a secondary player in Hamilton at the time,” recalls Scott Howson, the Edmonton Oilers’ assistant GM who was also GM of the Dogs in their first seven seasons. “Those playoffs gave us an identity that we lacked and would have had a hard time discovering on our own. Those playoffs put us on the map in Hamilton.” … Link

A STAR-STUDDED PACK
Scott Radley, Hamilton Spectator
A quick look back at the 2003 Bulldogs squad is a nice reminder that even if Jim Balsillie brings his Predators here, it won’t be the first NHL franchise in town since the Tigers bolted in 1925. Four years ago, we had an NHL team playing at Copps. Just look at the names that were playing for Hamilton in that championship series. Jason Ward. He’s in the NHL now with Tampa. Michael Ryder. He’s with the Habs. So are Tomas Plekanec and Mike Komisarek. Jarret Stoll and Raffi Torres are with the Oilers. Marcel Hossa’s a Ranger. Marc-Andre Bergeron’s an Islander. Tony Salmelainen’s a Blackhawk. Ty Conklin’s a Sabre. Bobby Allen’s a Bruin. Ron Hainsey’s a Blue Jacket. And, of course, Francois Beauchemin’s playing for the Cup with Anaheim. That’s not a bad nucleus of any big-league lineup. … Link

BULLDOGS GOALIE STIRS BOUDREAU’S MEMORY
Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
It conjures unpleasant memories when Hershey Bears head coach Bruce Boudreau contemplates facing Hamilton Bulldogs goalie Carey Price. Back in 1985, Boudreau played for Baltimore, which was favored over Sherbrooke in the Calder Cup final. In net for Sherbrooke, though, was a 19-year-old junior eligible named Patrick Roy. “The underdog Sherbrooke against the favorite Baltimore,” Boudreau said yesterday. “This is almost like deja vu. I’ve seen this. The great thing about seeing it is hopefully you can make adjustments. In Baltimore, we thought there was no chance for them to beat us. I think we’re a little more wary this time around.” … Link

JUST YAPPING AT THE GUYS
Garry McKay, Hamilton Spectator
Some time over the next few days there’s a good chance that Maxim Lapierre will have heartfelt conversations with many of the Hershey Bears. The Hamilton Bulldogs winger won’t be discussing politics, religion or even giving the Hershey players his opinion on the economic impact of the chocolate industry on the Pennsylvania economy. No, he’ll just be yapping at them. That’s one of things that he does well. “I try to get under their skin and throw them off their game,” says Lapierre, a great skater and forechecker who arrives in the other player’s face with unnerving velocity. … Link

EX-TEAMMATES FINALLY REACH THE FINALS
Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
They were rookies together on first-year team in 2000-01, and for five seasons, they found themselves not only as linemates at times, but as friends, and for one season, housemates. Quintin Laing, who once served as captain of the Norfolk Admirals, will be playing a key role for the Hershey Bears as they begin the final step toward successfully defending the Calder Cup championship the team won last season. Ajay Baines, who was also a captain of the Norfolk Admirals, will be playing an equally key role for the Hamilton Bulldogs as they attempt to dethrone the Bears while hoping to claim the Cup after having twice fallen short in the Cup finals. “We’ve stayed in touch since he left (Norfolk) and I left,” said Laing. “We talk quite a bit in the summers. It’ll be fun playing against him, especially with what’s at stake.” … Link
 

SPOTLIGHT ON MATHIEU BIRON
Scott Radley, Hamilton Spectator
As boys, the Biron brothers tended to be a little competitive. Even table tennis games could get Mathieu and his older brother, Martin, going at each other a little. “When we were young, we’d fight a bit,” Mathieu says, breaking into a toothy grin. Things settled down a bit as they got older, moved through minor hockey and eventually into the NHL. And until about six weeks ago, Martin always had a leg up in one area. While Martin landed in Buffalo and had opportunity to play for the Sabres in the post season, his gigantic little brother remarkably never did. Seemed everywhere he went, he landed right in the middle of a rebuilding. “Unfortunately, I was on the lower end of the standings,” the Hamilton Bulldogs defenceman says. “Frustrating? A little bit, of course.” … Link

LEVER OFFERS LITTLE INSIGHT
Garry McKay, Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton Bulldogs’ head coach Don Lever is playing his hand really close to his vest. With the Calder Cup final with the Hershey Bears set to open tonight, Lever isn’t offering a lot of insight as to what his team has to do to knock off the defending American Hockey League champions. And that’s unlike Lever, who in the Bulldogs’ past three playoff series, said publicly what they were going to have to do, to whom, when they were going to do it, and how. “They’re very well balanced and they dominated all year,” Lever explained yesterday. “They play their system to a T. One of their strengths is that they play a great overall team game that is obviously different than we saw with Chicago.” … Link

BEARS CAN PLAY ANY STYLE
Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Any way you want to play it. That should be the postseason motto for the Hershey Bears, who have dominated with depth, balance and adaptability. Want to crash and play physical? They’ll weather the storm, hit back … and win. Want to try to outskate and outskill them? They’ll outdo you on both counts … and win. That’s how the path to the Calder Cup final has gone, with Albany, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Manchester left by the roadside, thumbing lifts to the golf course. “We’ve been winning every which way, we’ve been playing every which way,” Bears centerman Dave Steckel said. “I think that’s a unique characteristic that’s helped us get where we are right now.” … Link

STORTINI BARRELS INTO AHL FINAL
Trevor Stewart, Sudbury Star
It’s safe to say Sudbury’s Zack Stortini makes the most of whatever situation he’s thrown into. Right now, that means the 22-year-old is doing whatever he can to get his hands on the AHL’s Calder Cup. During the NHL season, he carved out a role when he was given a chance with the Edmonton Oilers. He endeared himself to coaches and fans with a physical presence and a willingness to drop the gloves on the ice and a great attitude around the rink. He wound up dressing for 29 games with Edmonton and banged in a rebound for his first NHL goal against the Vancouver Canucks. Earlier in that game, he made national highlight reels with one of the best shoulder checks in the NHL all season, sending a Canucks defenceman flying on a blazing forecheck rush. … Link

BOUDREAU’S COMING UP BIG BEHIND THE BENCH
Kevin McGran, Toronto Star
They used to say he was too short to play in the NHL. Surely they can’t say he’s too short to coach in the NHL. Bruce Boudreau did what he was supposed to do in junior hockey and the minors to impress scouts, coaches and general managers. He scored. Lots. And his teams won. Plenty. But the guy they called “Gabby” couldn’t catch a break. The Maple Leafs, who drafted him out of the Toronto Marlboros, treated him like a yo-yo. He was up and down to and from the minors for seven consecutive seasons. “This is my 32nd year of fighting to get to the NHL,” said Boudreau yesterday. “It’s always your goal. But at the same time, quite frankly, I don’t know what else I could do if it wasn’t for hockey.” … Link
 
‘DOGS EYE ANOTHER UPSET
Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette
The folks who handle the Hamilton Bulldogs’ equipment took advantage of some free time yesterday to visit Hershey Park, a celebration of chocolate and roller coasters. It was a luxury head coach Don Lever and his players couldn’t afford as they prepared for Game 1 of the Calder Cup final against the Hershey Bears. “This is the most balanced team we’ve faced this year,” said Lever, whose troops have been able to defy the odds with a series of upsets in the American Hockey League playoffs. Hershey finished the regular season with a league-leading 114 points and it has continued its domination in the playoffs. The Bears have won 12 of 14 playoff games and swept the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference final, outscoring Manchester 18-5. … Link

CAPS’ FARM TEAM EYES REPEAT
Dave Fay, Washington Times
Athletes and organizations that take things for granted often wake up on the short end of whatever it was they assumed they owned outright. Perhaps that is among the reasons the Hershey Bears are assuming nothing in the Calder Cup Finals. One of the most storied franchises in all of hockey, the Bears have won nine AHL titles and have been in the championship series 10 other times since beginning play in 1938. Hershey won back-to-back titles in 1958 and 1959. Hamilton has been a finalist twice, most recently in 2003. “Winning last year doesn’t take anything away from this year or what we have to do,” said Hershey coach Bruce Boudreau, who also was behind the bench last season. … Link

ADMIRALS ALUMNI HAVE EYES ON PRIZE IN PLAYOFFS
Tris Wykes, Virginian-Pilot
The Norfolk Admirals are doing awfully well in the playoffs these days, even if they’re not actually in them. With the world’s two best hockey leagues down to their championships series, no fewer than six former Admirals are represented among the four teams involved. In the Stanley Cup finals, forwards Travis Moen and Shawn Thornton and defenseman Kent Huskins all skate regular shifts for the Anaheim Ducks, who are up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. In the AHL, wing Quintin Laing has taken his pell-mell style to the Hershey Bears, who are chasing their second consecutive Calder Cup. Standing in their way in a series that starts tonight are the Hamilton Bulldogs, who include former Admirals captain Ajay Baines. … Link

DREW MILLER LATEST IN TALENTED FAMILY LINE
Mark Whicker, Orange County Register
Drew Miller has a victory in the Stanley Cup Finals. Now all he needs is a locker. What he has now is a red chair, in between stalls in the suddenly jammed Ducks locker room. On Tuesday he didn’t even get to use that. Camera crews from two nations kept asking him to stand up and say exactly how all this feels, how one goes from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League to a place on the top line of the Ducks — without the benefit of one regular-season minute in the National Hockey League. It’s difficult to describe something that’s beyond description. … Link

AEROS HIRE CONSTANTINE
Andrew Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
Less than six weeks after parting ways with Rob Daum — a move that was largely expected after the Aeros finished their worst season in franchise history — the Minnesota Wild have announced that former NHL coach Kevin Constantine will succeed Daum. Constantine, who has spent the last four seasons in Everett (WHL), is often regarded as a strict coach with a fiery personality. But his NHL record is a respectable 159-153-66 and he is the only coach in NHL history to lead two upsets of No. 8 seeds vs. No. 1 seeds in the playoffs, having done so with San Jose (over Detroit in 1994) and Pittsburgh (over New Jersey in ‘99). … Link


FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
Anaheim took a 2-0 series lead over Ottawa in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals with victories on Monday and Wednesday… All four goals scored by the Ducks in the series came off the sticks of American Hockey League graduates: Andy McDonald, Ryan Getzlaf, Travis Moen and Samuel Pahlsson.


BY THE NUMBERS:
33
– Calder Cup Finals appearances by teams from Pennsylvania (Hershey 20, Pittsburgh 7, Philadelphia 4, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2), tied for the most of any state/province with New York (Rochester 16, Buffalo 9, Glens Falls 4, Syracuse 2, Albany 1, Binghamton 1).


ON THIS DATE:
June 1, 2004
Mathieu Darche scores 13:01 into overtime as Milwaukee opens up the Calder Cup Finals with a 2-1 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

June 1, 1999Martin Biron makes 24 saves as Rochester advances to the Calder Cup Finals for the 15th time in team history with a 4-2 win over Philadelphia in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

June 1, 1996 – In the first AHL game ever played in the month of June, Rochester defeats Portland, 5-3, in Game 1 of 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.