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‘Hogs, Rats, Heat, Monarchs clinch on Friday

Friday’s AHL Boxscores

ROCKFORD 2, LAKE ERIE 1
Rockford goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 32 of 33 shots as the IceHogs secured a playoff spot with a 2-1 win over Lake Erie visiting on Friday night at the MetroCentre.

The IceHogs, who moved to 3-3-0-0 on their six-game homestand, will take part in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the third time in as many AHL seasons.

Bryan Bickell gave Rockford a 1-0 lead only 2:44 after the opening face-off, with Rob Klinkhammer and rookie defenseman Shawn Lalonde earning assists on the play.

It remained a 1-0 contest through the second period and into the third before Evan Brophey extended the IceHogs’ advantage to 2-0 at 8:45 of the final frame. Jake Dowell and Danny Bois picked up assists on Brophey’s 14th goal of the season but just his third in his last 19 contests.

Brophey’s tally proved to be the game-winner when rookie Justin Mercier put the Monsters on the board with 2:30 to play in regulation. T.J. Hensick and captain Brian Willsie earned assists.

Lake Erie was unable to put another puck past Crawford, however, and fell six points back of the victorious Manitoba Moose for the North Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.

Crawford moved to 4-2-0 in his last six contests and improved his season mark to 22-16-2 in 43 appearances for Rockford.

MANCHESTER 4, BRIDGEPORT 1
Manchester officially clinched its eighth Calder Cup Playoff berth in nine years with a 4-1 home-ice win over Bridgeport at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday.

The Monarchs, who matched a season high with their sixth straight victory, will return to postseason action after missing out last year for the first time in team history.

Bridgeport initially took a 1-0 lead when defenseman Brendan Witt scored 7:06 into the game, but the Monarchs’ Justin Azevedo answered just 25 seconds later.

Rookie Corey Elkins’ 20th goal of the season late in the second frame put Manchester on top for good, and the Monarchs received third-period insurance markers from Oscar Moller and Bud Holloway.

Making his professional debut, 18-year-old goaltender Jean-Francois Berube earned the victory for the Monarchs with 23 saves on 24 shots. Berube becomes the fourth different goaltender during the Monarchs’ current streak to pick up a win, joining Jonathan Bernier, Jeff Zatkoff, and Matt Lopes.

Bridgeport dropped to 1-3-0-0 in its last four contests and remains tied with Lowell for fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

ABBOTSFORD 4, GRAND RAPIDS 3
Abbotsford punched its ticket to the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs on Friday with a 4-3 win over visiting Grand Rapids at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.

Heat forward David Van der Gulik broke a 3-3 tie with a minute to play in regulation, ensuring that Abbotsford would become the first Calgary Flames AHL affiliate to reach the postseason since 2007.

Van der Gulik finished with a goal and an assist on the night, and Cam Cunning, Shawn Weller, and defenseman Keith Seabrook also found the back of the net.

John Lammers and blueliner Staffan Kronwall each recorded two assists for the Heat, and goaltender David Shantz stopped 32 of 35 shots in the winning effort.

Rookie Tomas Tatar tallied a pair of goals for Grand Rapids, and veteran Brad May also scored. With the loss, the Griffins were officially eliminated from postseason contention.

The teams will square off for a rematch on Saturday evening in Abbotsford.

NORFOLK 2, ALBANY 1
Justin Keller scored twice – including the game-winning goal with 6:31 to play in regulation – as Norfolk earned a much-needed 2-1 road win over Albany at the Times Union Center on Friday.

Keller’s third-period goal snapped a 1-1 deadlock and was assisted by defensemen Matt Case and Scott Jackson.

Albany grabbed a 1-0 first-period lead on a goal by Nicolas Blanchard at 12:37, but Keller responded for the Admirals less than four minutes later.

Rookie goaltender Dustin Tokarski earned the victory with 31 saves on 32 shots for the Admirals, who moved within two spots of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and three points back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for third place in the East Division.

Despite the loss, Albany still clinched a playoff berth by virtue of Lowell’s 5-2 loss at Hartford. The River Rats will head to postseason play for the third time in the last four years.

PEORIA 6, MILWAUKEE 5 (OT)
Pascal Pelletier scored unassisted at 3:17 of overtime to lift Peoria to a dramatic 6-5 road win over Milwaukee on Friday in a back-and-forth game at the Bradley Center.

By gaining an extra standings point courtesy of the overtime triumph, the Rivermen pulled within three points of the Admirals for the West Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.

Peoria held leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 5-4, but could not close the deal in regulation. Milwaukee took a 4-3 advantage into the third period but was also not able to hold on.

AHL All-Rookie forward Lars Eller registered a goal and two assists to pace Peoria’s offense, and defenseman Jonas Junland put up a goal and an assist.

Cam Paddock extended his goal-scoring streak to five games (5-1-6), while Derek Armstrong and defenseman Tyson Strachan also scored for the Rivermen. Peoria goaltender Joe Fallon emerged with the victory after making 29 saves in net.

Marty Murray salvaged a point for Milwaukee when he netted the game-tying goal at 19:55 of the third period. Murray finished with three points (2-1-3) for the Admirals, and Ryan Thang, Chris Mueller, and Andreas Thuresson also found the back of the net.

Milwaukee is now winless in four straight games (0-2-1-1) and visits Rockford on Saturday night before hosting the Rivermen again on Tuesday.

MANITOBA 3, TORONTO 1
Manitoba improved its playoff outlook and dealt a serious blow to Toronto’s hopes with a 3-1 road win over the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum on Friday.

The teams will meet again on Saturday night in Toronto.

Mario Bliznak scored twice and Kevin Clark once for the Moose, who registered a goal in each of the three periods. Goaltender Cory Schneider picked up the victory after making 33 saves on 34 shots in net.

Schneider’s only blemish came courtesy of a Ben Ondrus goal for the Marlies with 4:05 left in regulation.

With the win, the fourth-place Moose moved seven points up on the sixth-place Marlies for the North Division’s final playoff spot. Lake Erie is in fifth place, between the two clubs.

Toronto climbed back into the race by virtue of a seven-game points streak (6-0-1-0) from Mar. 7-24, but the Marlies are just 1-4-0-0 in five contests since.

BINGHAMTON 6, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2
Binghamton netted a pair of goals in each period and cruised past visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by a 6-2 count on Friday at the Broome County Arena.

The Senators, who kept their faint postseason hopes alive with the victory, reached the six-goal plateau for the fifth time this season and first since a 6-2 win at Portland on Mar. 13.

Kaspars Daugavins led the way with a pair of goals for Binghamton, and Josh Hennessy and defenseman Derek Smith each recorded a goal and an assist.

Jonathan Cheechoo and Jim O’Brien rounded out the Senators’ offense, while Martin St. Pierre and rearguard Geoff Kinrade each posted two helpers. Kinrade finished plus-4 on the evening.

Senators goaltender Mike Brodeur stopped 35 of 37 shots to pick up the victory, improving to 3-1-0 in his last four decisions following a four-game losing skid.

Dustin Jeffrey and defenseman Deryk Engelland had goals for the Penguins, who are now three points up on Norfolk for the East Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff entry.

ROCHESTER 3, HERSHEY 1
Ex-Bear Graham Mink tallied a pair of goals against his former team, and Rochester went on to a 3-1 win over visiting Hershey at the Blue Cross Arena.

Mink, who won Calder Cups with the Bears in both 2006 and 2009, tallied his 17th and 18th goals of the season just 2:43 apart in the second period, giving Rochester a 2-0 advantage.

It remained 2-0 well into the third frame before Francois Bouchard put Hershey on the board at 16:18 with his 20th goal of the campaign. But Mike York sealed the Americans’ victory with an empty-net marker in the closing seconds.

Amerks netminder Tyler Plante, the Reebok/AHL goaltender of the month for March, earned the win with 32 saves between the pipes.

Rochester collected its first win in four tries against Hershey this season (1-3-0-0), while the Bears’ four-game overall winning streak came to an end.

HARTFORD 5, LOWELL 2
Five different Hartford skaters found the back of the net as the Wolf Pack secured a 5-2 win over struggling Lowell at the XL Center on Friday.

Defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen put Hartford on top with a power play goal midway through the opening period, and the Wolf Pack took a 3-0 advantage into the final 20 minutes courtesy of second-period tallies by Ryan Garlock and Dale Weise, the latter coming unassisted.

Olivier Magnan and David McIntyre scored just 49 seconds apart early in the third period to pull the Devils within 3-2, but Hartford’s Paul Crowder and Bobby Sanguinetti iced the victory with goals later in the stanza.

Brodie Dupont and defenseman Corey Potter each chipped in two assists for the Wolf Pack, and rookie goaltender Chad Johnson stopped 36 of 38 shots in the victory.

The Devils have lost three straight games and sit just two points up on Norfolk for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Hartford is now seven points back of Lowell for that spot with five games to play.

PROVIDENCE 3, WORCESTER 1
Providence kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-1 win over Atlantic Division-leading Worcester before 7,858 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Friday.

Twenty-year-old Max Sauve, a native of France, tallied a pair of goals in his professional debut for the Bruins. Sauve, a second-round draft pick by parent-club Boston in 2008, scored on the power play in both the first and third periods.

Devin Timberlake also picked up a goal for Providence, and Joe Colborne – drafted 16th overall by Boston in 2008 – registered two assists in his pro debut.

Providence goaltender Dany Sabourin was strong in net, earning the win with 48 saves on 49 shots, including 19 stops in the third period alone.

Ex-Bruin T.J. Trevelyan notched the Sharks’ lone goal of the night.

PORTLAND 6, SPRINGFIELD 3
Portland torched Springfield for six goals on 19 shots and rolled to a 6-3 road win over the last-place Falcons at the MassMutual Center on Friday.

The Pirates entered the third period down 3-2 but scored four unanswered goals to claim the victory. Cody McCormick, Travis Turnbull, Brad Larsen, and defenseman T.J. Brennan notched third-period markers for Portland, with Brennan’s going into an empty net.

Larsen finished with a pair of markers, and Philip Gogulla also scored in the winning effort. Paul Byron chipped in two assists for Portland.

Goaltender J.P. Lamoureux earned the win with 24 saves on 27 shots, helping the Pirates move within three points of Worcester for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Colton Fretter and Rob Hisey each posted a goal and an assist for the Falcons, and Chris Minard also scored. Springfield fell to 0-3-1-1 in its last five outings.

SYRACUSE 3, ADIRONDACK 2
Chad Kolarik snapped a 2-2 deadlock with 2:19 to play in regulation, and Syracuse held on for a 3-2 road win over Adirondack at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Friday.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Phantoms’ Patrick Maroon and the Crunch’s John Kurtz traded second-period markers, with the 20-year-old Kurtz scoring his first goal as a professional.

Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman put Syracuse on top only 13 seconds into the third period, only to watch Phantoms forward Jon Matsumoto tie it on the power play at 3:01 with his 29th goal of the season.

That set the stage for Kolarik’s game-winner, which marked his 26th of the year and was assisted by Tom Sestito and Tyler Murovich.

Crunch goaltender Kevin Lalande turned aside 44 of 46 shots to pick up the win.

TEXAS 4, SAN ANTONIO 3 (OT)
Francis Wathier lit the lamp 1:08 into overtime as Texas crept closer to first place in the West Division with a 4-3 win over visiting San Antonio before 6,014 fans at the Cedar Park Center.

Aaron Gagnon registered a goal and two assists for the Stars, including the lone helper on Wathier’s overtime game-winner.

Texas also received regulation markers from Wathier – who scored shorthanded – and defenseman Garrett Stafford. Wathier added an assist to join Gagnon in posting three points on the night.

Stars goaltender Brent Krahn (17-3-0) earned the win with 33 saves between the pipes, helping his club move within four points of Chicago for the West Division’s top spot. Both teams have four games left to play.

Kyle Turris, MacGregor Sharp, and Joel Perrault netted goals for the Rampage, who are 1-2-2-1 in their last six games and remain seven points out of a playoff spot in the West.

HOUSTON 4, CHICAGO 3
Houston jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and held off Chicago for a 4-3 win over the Wolves in the back end of a two-game set before 9,575 fans at the Toyota Center on Friday.

Colton Gillies tallied the eventual game-winning goal for the Aeros at 2:06 of the third period. Andy Hilbert posted a goal and an assist in the victory, while rookie Chad Rau and defenseman Jamie Fraser also scored.

Duncan Milroy and rearguard Ryan Gunderson each contributed two assists for Houston, and 19-year-old goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves to earn his first professional victory.

The Wolves received a pair of goals from Johnny Pohl and one from Riley Holzapfel, but Chicago was unable to complete its comeback and fell to 2-3-0-1 in its last six contests.

Chicago saw its lead atop the West Division shrink to four points over Texas, which beat San Antonio in overtime.