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Morning Skate: Critical Game 5 in the East

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.


WEDNESDAY’S SCORES:
Game 3 – TEXAS 5, Hamilton 4 (OT) (HAM leads series, 2-1)


WEDNESDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Ethan Graham’s first career Calder Cup Playoff goal came 2:13 into overtime and lifted Texas to a 5-4 win over Hamilton in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

2. Texas rookie Jamie Benn recorded a goal and an assist, and is now tied for the AHL playoff lead with 11 goals and tied for second with 19 points.

3. Brock Trotter notched a goal and an assist for the Bulldogs, his third consecutive two-point game to open the series.


TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 5 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00 (Series tied, 2-2)


2010 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Complete Results II Scoring Leaders II Goaltending Leaders

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs

Game 1 – Wed., May 12 – HERSHEY 4, Manchester 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 15 – HERSHEY 3, Manchester 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Mon., May 17 – MANCHESTER 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Tue., May 18 – MANCHESTER 1, Hershey 0
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

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Fri., May 14 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 16 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 19 – TEXAS 5, Hamilton 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 21 – Hamilton at Texas, 8:30
Game 5 – Sat., May 22 – Hamilton at Texas, 8:00
*Game 6 – Mon., May 24 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 7 – Wed., May 26 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30

*if necessary… All times Eastern


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 5 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00 (Series tied, 2-2)
Video Webcast: AHL Live
Someone will be one win away from the 2010 Calder Cup Finals tonight after Hershey and Manchester clash at the Verizon Wireless Arena for a pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference championship series… The Monarchs dropped the first two contests in Hershey but have come back to win twice at home over the defending AHL champions, handing the Bears their first back-to-back losses (excluding shootouts) since Oct. 23 and 24… Manchester is now 6-1 at the Verizon Wireless Arena in the playoffs after posting an impressive 25-11-1-3 mark at home during the regular season… Hershey is averaging a league-high 3.77 goals per game this postseason, but Manchester has surrendered a league-low 1.71 goals per contest… That number improved in Tuesday’s Game 4 when Baz Bastien Award winner Jonathan Bernier recorded an 18-save shutout for the Monarchs in a 1-0 triumph, his league-leading third whitewash of the playoffs and Hershey’s first shutout loss since a 5-0 setback at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Feb. 13… Through 14 appearances, Bernier (10-4) also leads all AHL postseason goaltenders in wins, goals-against average (1.68), save percentage (.943), minutes played (858), shots faced (422) and total saves (398)… Monarchs rookie Dwight King snapped an eight-game goal-scoring drought with the game’s only tally on Tuesday, beating Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth midway through the second period… Manchester leading playoff scorer Bud Holloway (6-6-12) picked up an assist on the play for his first point of this series, while rookie Andrei Loktionov earned the other helper and now shows a point in four of his last five contests (1-3-4)… Gabe Gauthier did not score for Manchester, ending his goal-scoring streak at four games (5-0-5)… 20-year-old forward Stefan Della Rovere made his AHL debut for the Bears in Game 4… AHL MVP Keith Aucoin had registered an assist in each of his first 12 playoff games (1-16-17) prior to being held off the scoresheet on Tuesday… Bears forward Chris Bourque, whose eight-game scoring streak (6-11-17) also came to an end, continues to lead the AHL with 20 points (6-14-20) in 13 postseason outings… Hershey’s 18 shots on goal in Game 4 matched its season low… Neuvirth made 24 saves in Tuesday’s defeat, and like the Bears as a team, he has now dropped consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 23 and 24… Manchester is 1-for-19 on the power play in the series; Hershey is 2-for-17… The Bears have won 299 playoff games in franchise history… In the AHL’s 112 previous best-of-seven series tied at 2-2, the Game 5 victory has won the series 89 times (79.4 percent).


ALL-TIME CALDER CUP PLAYOFF LEADERS

Points
1. Darren Haydar, 135
2. Willie Marshall, 119
3. Jason Krog, 118
4. Jody Gage, 110
5. Fred Glover, 104
6(t). Bob Solinger, 92
6(t).Alexandre Giroux, 92

Goals
1. Darren Haydar, 59
2. Jody Gage, 51
3(t). Willie Marshall, 48
3(t). Fred Glover, 48
5. Alexandre Giroux, 47
6. Brad Smyth, 46
7(t). Jason Krog, 42

Assists
1(t). Darren Haydar, 76
1(t). Jason Krog, 76
3. Willie Marshall, 71
4. Mike Nykoluk, 62
5. Domenic Pittis, 61

Games Played
1. Bryan Helmer, 130
2. Ken Gernander, 123
3. Fred Glover, 120
4. Jody Gage, 115

12(t). Alexandre Giroux, 104
12(t).
Boyd Kane, 104


MORNING HEADLINES:
CRITICAL GAME 5 LOOMS FOR BEARS, MONARCHS – Harrisburg Patriot-News
In the 2006-07 Eastern Conference finals, Manchester Monarchs head coach Mark Morris saw his club get outscored 18-5 and swept by the Hershey Bears. Manchester was overmatched and never in the series. That is definitely not the case in the 2009-10 Eastern Conference finals. The Monarchs followed two losses in Hershey with two wins at home to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2.
http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2010/05/critical_game_5_looms_for_hers.html

CLIFFORD COMING UP BIG FOR MONARCHS – NHL.com
Morning skates don’t carry much more importance than the one Manchester rookie forward Kyle Clifford went through with the Monarchs on May 7. Coach Mark Morris was in a tight spot with no room for a wrong move. He needed more size and skill up front, and Clifford (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) fit the bill on both counts. Trouble was, Clifford had just joined the team from Barrie of the OHL. The morning workout was Morris’ only chance to evaluate him before deciding whether to dress him in Game 6 of the Atlantic Division finals that night.
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=529598

ALZNER’S SECOND CALDER CUP RUN SHOULD BE HIS LAST – CSNWashington.com
One game doesn’t often change the perception of an entire season, but it seemed like that happened for Karl Alzner. After spending the regular season shuttling back and forth between the Hershey Bears and the Washington Capitals, Alzner was tossed into the lineup for the most critical game of the Capitals’ season. Not only did he prove capable of handling the situation, coach Bruce Boudreau lauded him after the game by calling him one of the team’s best on that night.
http://www.csnwashington.com/05/18/10/landing.html?blockID=236974&feedID=2995

STARS SNEAK BY BULLDOGS IN OT – Austin American-Statesman
When he has a kid, Ethan Graham once netted a game-winner. On Wednesday, he netted the goal of his life. The kid from the tiny town of Xenia, Ohio – the same kid who bounced between two leagues and four teams during the regular season – fired the decisive shot at the Cedar Park Center, lifting the Texas Stars to a 5-4 win in overtime in Game 3 of the AHL Western Conference finals. The win kept Texas from falling into a three-game hole – a spot only two teams have rebounded from since 1937. The Stars will try to even the series at home Friday.
http://www.statesman.com/sports/pro/stars-sneak-by-bulldogs-in-ot-698397.html

STARS FIND FAST START IS THE TICKET – Austin American-Statesman
Rick McLaughlin said early Wednesday that his team would be fine if it started fast. Well, the Texas Stars president got his wish even if it did come with some anxious moments. The first-year AHL franchise was this close to falling into an 0-3 pit in the Western Conference finals but regained its senses at the perfect time. The near misses in Canada from the past weekend have now given way to this team having realistic hopes of competing for a Calder Cup at the end of the month.
http://www.statesman.com/sports/stars-find-fast-start-is-the-ticket-698439.html

CAKEWALK? NO WAY, SAY TEXAS STARS – Hamilton Spectator
If the Hamilton Bulldogs thought this was going to be easy they were wrong. The Dogs had a chance to take a stranglehold in the AHL Western Conference Final but the Texas Stars beat them last night 5-4 in overtime at the Cedar Park Center. So instead of being up 3-0 in the best of seven series the Dogs lead only 2-1 with the next two games, tomorrow and Saturday deep in the heart of Texas.
http://www.thespec.com/Sports/article/772246

OKLAHOMA CITY’S AHL TEAM WILL BE BARONS – The Oklahoman
The Barons it is. In front of a crowd of several hundred at the Cox Communications Center on Wednesday, Oklahoma City’s new American Hockey League team unveiled its name and logo. The blue and copper logo and oil-town imagery matches that of the Edmonton Oilers, the Barons’ parent club in the National Hockey League.
http://www.newsok.com/ahl-team-will-be-named-oklahoma-city-barons/article/3462517

PLEASE SEND SOME GOOD HOCKEY PLAYERS – The Oklahoman
Now that Oklahoma City has a hockey team again and the team has a name, what’s next? How about the thing that should really get folks here fired up about hockey? The players. Skilled players come with the territory in the AHL. The best 700 or so players in the world are in the NHL. The next 700? They’re in the AHL.
http://newsok.com/article/3462519

OILERS TURN FOCUS TO DEVELOPMENT – Canadian Press
Kevin Lowe has a new master plan for taking the Edmonton Oilers back to the proud days of the franchise’s past. It starts with the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft, earned by having the NHL’s worst record this season, and also includes an increased emphasis on developing players while spending less on free agents. Lowe, the Oilers’ president of hockey operations, laid out the plan Wednesday as he visited Oklahoma City to unveil the new identity of the franchise’s American Hockey League affiliate.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5hxK4dyE3xZ58SpednSWFTRorDmBA

OILERS UNVEIL FARM TEAM NAME AND LOOK – Edmonton Journal
Like father, like son. The newly anointed Oklahoma City Barons, like their parent club, the Edmonton Oilers, will wear Copper and Blue when they venture into the 2010-11 season. The name, logo and franchise colors were unveiled at a press conference Wednesday in the Cox Convention Center, home of the American Hockey League team.
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Edmonton+Oilers+unveil+farm+team+name+look/3050346/story.html

PHANTOMS CALL-UPS MAKING STANLEY CUP RUN WITH FLYERS – The Saratogian
Several Adirondack Phantoms players are just six wins away from helping the Philadelphia Flyers win a Stanley Cup championship. A handful of Phantoms were recalled to Philadelphia for the NHL playoffs and now the Flyers need just two more victories over the Montreal Canadiens to reach the Stanley Cup finals. Forward Andreas Nodl has been getting the most ice time, while goalie Johan Backlund – Adirondack’s top performer during the regular season – is the backup to Flyers netminder Michael Leighton.
http://www.saratogian.com/articles/2010/05/19/sports/doc4bf4a74bd0c95413254723.txt


BY THE NUMBERS:
4-12 – Since 2006, record of Baz Bastien Award winners in playoff games against Hershey… The Bears were 2-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Dany Sabourin in 2006, took four straight from Manchester’s Jason LaBarbera in 2007, went 4-2 against Manitoba’s Cory Schneider in 2009 and are 2-2 so far against Manchester’s Jonathan Bernier in 2010.

.700 – Hershey’s winning percentage in 80 playoff games since the start of the 2006 playoffs, the equivalent of one full regular season (56-24).

4 – Shutouts recorded by Manchester in 47 all-time Calder Cup Playoff games entering this postseason.

3 – Shutouts recorded by the Monarchs through their first 14 Calder Cup Playoff games in 2010.


ON THIS DATE:
May 20, 2009Mathieu Beaudoin caps a four-point night with his second goal of the game at 2:01 of overtime, giving Houston a 5-4 win over Manitoba to avoid being swept in the Western Conference Finals.

May 20, 2006 – Portland scores twice in the final 5:22 of regulation and Shane O’Brien strikes 7:31 into the second overtime as the Pirates end Hershey’s 10-game winning streak with a 6-5 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 20, 2005Freddy Meyer’s hat trick lifts Philadelphia to a 4-2 win over Providence in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference final series.

May 20, 2002 – Louie DeBrusk scores 9:10 into overtime as Hamilton staves off elimination with a 3-2 win at Bridgeport in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 20, 1981 – The Adirondack Red Wings win their first Calder Cup, defeating Maine in Game 6, 5-2.


AHL LIVE:
Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2010 Calder Cup championship. 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.