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Hauser keeps ‘Cats scratching their heads

The Manchester Monarchs are back in their Atlantic Division semifinal series thanks to goaltender Adam Hauser.

The rookie Hauser made 26 saves for his second consecutive shutout and Noah Clarke scored a pair of goals as Manchester rolled to a 6-0 win over Worcester in Game 4 on Tuesday night. The best-of-seven series is now even at two games apiece.

Pavel Rosa recorded a goal and two assists and Tomas Zizka and Yanick Lehoux picked up three assists each.

Hauser, an NCAA champion at the University of Minnesota, has stopped all 51 shots he has faced this postseason, picking up a pair of shutouts at Worcester’s Centrum Centre after the IceCats had built a 2-0 series lead.

Petr Kanko, Leon Hayward and Bryan Muir also scored for the Monarchs, who registered three power play goals in the third period.

Game 5 will be Thursday night in Manchester.

HAMILTON 4, CLEVELAND 0
Hamilton controlled play from start to finish and earned a 4-0 win over Cleveland in Game 1 of their North Division semifinal series.

Marcel Hossa scored what would be the winning goal early in the second period, and Tomas Plekanec assisted on all three of the Bulldogs’ third-period goals.

Jean-Francois Damphousse made 17 saves for the shutout in his first playoff appearance since 2000. Hamilton owned a 46-17 edge in shots on goal for the game.

PORTLAND 3, HARTFORD 1
Chris Hajt and Mike Vigilante scored 58 seconds apart in the first period and Maxime Ouellet made 28 saves as Portland took Game 1 from Hartford, 3-1.

It was the sixth straight playoff loss for the Wolf Pack, and the third win in a row for the Pirates, who have outscored their opponents 16-4 this postseason.

Jason Ulmer added a goal and an assist for Portland. Jozef Balej spoiled Ouellet’s shutout bid with a shorthanded goal at 15:18 of the third period.

Game 2 is Wednesday in Hartford.

BRIDGEPORT 4, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2
This time there would be no comeback.

Ryan Kraft scored twice and Jeff Hamilton iced the victory with 1:43 remaining as Bridgeport defeated Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 4-2, to take a 3-1 lead in the teams’ East Division semifinal series.

The Penguins, who recorded third-period rallies and forced overtime in each of the first three games of the series, got to within a goal on Eric Meloche‘s tally with 7:18 remaining. But Wade Dubielewicz made eight of his 23 saves in the final frame to preserve the win.

Sebastien Caron made just 12 stops for the Penguins, whose goaltenders have a combined .812 save percentage in the series.