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Morning Skate: For all the marbles in Hamilton tonight

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.


TUESDAY’S SCORES:
No games scheduled

MONDAY’S SCORES:
Game 6 – Texas 3, HAMILTON 2 (OT) (Series tied, 3-3)


MONDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Aaron Gagnon scored the game-winner at 18:32 of overtime as Texas rallied for a 3-2 win at Hamilton in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

2. Bulldogs defenseman Shawn Belle scored on the power play for his first goal of the playoffs.

3. Texas goaltender Matt Climie backstopped his club to the victory with 51 saves, a league high this postseason.


TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 7 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30 (Series tied, 3-3)


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 3, MANCHESTER 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Sat., May 22 – HERSHEY 3, Manchester 2 (OT)

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 – TEXAS 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., May 22 – Hamilton 3, TEXAS 0
Game 6 – Mon., May 24 – Texas 3, HAMILTON 2 (OT)
Game 7 – Wed., May 26 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30

*if necessary… All times Eastern


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 7 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30 (Series tied, 3-3)
Video Webcast: AHL Live
TV: Cable 14 Hamilton
Satellite Radio: XM 204, Sirius 208

The Robert W. Clarke Trophy and a berth in the 2010 Calder Cup Finals are on the line tonight when Hamilton hosts Texas in Game 7 of the Western Conference championship series… The Stars have allowed the game’s first goal in all six games of the series to date and have played with the lead for a total of 18:19 out of the 386:11 played (4.7 percent), but are still one win away from becoming the first team since Chicago and Bridgeport in 2002 to reach the Calder Cup Finals in their first AHL season… Four of the first six games in the series have gone to overtime, including Texas’s 3-2 win in Game 6 on Monday night… After the Stars came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, Aaron Gagnon scored 18:32 into the first overtime for his sixth goal of the playoffs and first game-winner… Defenseman Garrett Stafford and forward Scott McCulloch also notched Game 6 goals for the Stars… Stafford broke an eight-game drought with his first goal since Apr. 30 at Chicago, while McCulloch scored for the first time since Game 7 of that second-round series vs. the Wolves… Rookie Jamie Benn (13-10-23), who has factored into eight of the Stars’ 13 total goals in the conference finals (5-3-8), recorded a pair of assists on Monday for his eighth multiple-point effort this postseason… Of the 10 playoff games in which Benn has contributed to his team’s offense, eight have been multiple-point performances… Benn remains one goal shy of the AHL rookie playoff record held by Rochester’s Sean McKenna (14 in 1983)… Texas is now 9-1 when Benn records a point this postseason, 2-5 when he doesn’t… Texas goaltender Matt Climie (4-3, 2.70, .917) made an AHL postseason-high 51 saves on 53 shots to pick up the victory in Monday’s contest, his seventh straight start after taking over for the injured Brent Krahn during Game 6 of the division finals vs. Chicago… Rookie Gabriel Dumont and defenseman Shawn Belle tallied goals for Hamilton in Monday’s loss… Dumont had been scoreless in eight straight games since tallying his first professional goal on May 4 at Abbotsford, while Belle recorded his first goal in 39 games dating back to mid-February… Bulldogs leading scorer David Desharnais (9-13-22) picked up an assist to secure his second eight-game scoring streak of these playoffs… Brock Trotter also earned a helper and now shows a point in six of his last seven outings (4-5-9)… Hamilton has received defenseman P.K. Subban and forward Ben Maxwell from parent-club Montreal, which was eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday… Subban, a member of the AHL’s All-Rookie and First All-Star Teams this year, had a team-high nine points (3-6-9) in six AHL postseason games prior to his summons… The Game 6 loss dropped Hamilton to 7-2 at home this postseason, and the Bulldogs have not dropped back-to-back outings at Copps Coliseum since losing to Abbotsford and Texas on Feb. 13 and 16… All three of the Stars’ victories this series and each of their last four overall have come in overtime… The Bulldogs have dropped three straight trips to OT after winning eight straight overtime playoff games going back to 2004… The Western Conference Finals are going the distance for the first time since 2003, when Houston defeated Grand Rapids… This is Hamilton’s first appearance in a Game 7 since a 3-0 loss to Houston in the deciding match of the 2003 Calder Cup Finals… The Bulldogs are 2-2 all-time in Game 7’s, and 5-2 in winner-take-all games… Hamilton is 18-13 all-time with a chance to close out a series, including 12-9 at Copps Coliseum and 2-2 in 2010… The Bulldogs, who opened up a 2-0 series lead before dropping three of the next four games, have never lost a series in which they won Game 1 (15-0)… Texas, which defeated Chicago, 6-5, in overtime of Game 7 of the West Division Finals, is looking to become the fourth team in AHL history to win two Game 7’s on the road in the same postseason, following Houston (2003 and 2009) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2004)… The Stars can also join Abbotsford (2010), Providence (2007), Portland (1996) and Maine (1983) as the only AHL teams ever to win Games 6 and 7 of a series on the road… This is the 79th Game 7 in AHL history… Home teams are 43-35, but visitors have won four of six over the past two postseasons… Tonight’s winner will face the Hershey Bears in the AHL’s 74th Calder Cup Finals.


MORNING HEADLINES:
IT’S COME DOWN TO ANOTHER GAME 7 FOR STARS – Austin American-Statesman

The Texas Stars have one last chance to do something that hasn’t been done since 2002. The Stars are attempting to get to the Calder Cup Championship series in their very first AHL season — a feat last accomplished by two teams eight years ago. For the Stars to do it, they need to prevent the Hamilton Bulldogs from advancing for the fourth time since 1997. Texas is attempting to win its second straight series with a Game 7 road victory, while the hometown Bulldogs have lost only twice at home during the playoffs — including Monday’s victory by the Stars.
http://www.statesman.com/sports/pro/its-come-down-to-another-game-7-for-709254.html

BACK AND READY TO GO – Hamilton Spectator
He has just spent the last month on hockey’s biggest stage, the Stanley Cup playoffs, battling some of the games biggest stars but P.K. Subban is ecstatic about getting back with the Hamilton Bulldogs. “Obviously, I was happy that Montreal wanted me to go back, but either way I was going back, whether they wanted me to or not,” said Subban, who got his wish yesterday when he and forward Ben Maxwell were reassigned to the Bulldogs the day after the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the playoffs.
http://www.thespec.com/Sports/article/775742

BULLDOGS NEED A QUICK START TONIGHT – Hamilton Spectator
If the Hamilton Bulldogs are going push the Texas Stars to the sidelines tonight at Copps Coliseum (start 7:30 p.m.) and move on to the Calder Cup finals — and a meeting with the Hershey Bears — a number of things have to go right. They have to get off to a quick start. They can’t let the Stars set the tone early as they have for many of the games in this series.
http://www.thespec.com/Sports/article/775736

CANADIENS’ SUBBAN REJOINS BULLDOGS – National Post
The Montreal Canadiens may be out of the NHL playoffs, but P.K. Subban will keep on playing. The 21-year-old defenseman is back in Hamilton for Game 7 of the American Hockey League’s Western Conference final tonight between the Bulldogs and the Texas Stars. Ben Maxwell, a 22-year-old forward, has also rejoined the Bulldogs, Montreal’s AHL affiliate, after spending the spring with the Canadiens.
http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/story.html?id=3070878

NEUVIRTH AGAIN SHOWCASES PLAYOFF MASTERY – Harrisburg Patriot-News
Michal Neuvirth’s reputation as a money goaltender continues to grow during the 2009-10 Calder Cup playoffs. His 2.13 goals-against average is strong, but it ranks third in the league to Hamilton’s Curtis Sanford (1.78) and Manchester’s Jonathan Bernier (1.81). His save percentage (.917) is tied for sixth. The most important category, though, is victories. The reigning playoff MVP (10-2) is tied with Bernier (10-6), whose season is done, in triumphs and is No. 1 in winning percentage (.833).
http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2010/05/neuvirth_again_showcases_playo.html

BEARS DOING IT LIKE IT’S 2009 – Lebanon Daily News
The Hershey Bears punched their ticket to the Calder Cup finals for the second straight season, and for the fourth time in five years, Saturday night when they rallied to post a 3-2 overtime victory over the Manchester Monarchs. In the process, they got goals from Patrick McNeill and Boyd Kane, those goals the first of the playoffs for both players. McNeill and Kane became the 15th and 16th different Hershey players to score goals since the playoffs began, a number highly reminiscent of the figures put up by last year’s Calder Cup champions.
http://www.ldnews.com/sports/ci_15154070

NEUVIRTH CONTINUES TO PASS TESTS – CSNWashington.com
Much of the focus leading up to the Eastern Conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs centered on whether or not Manchester goaltender Jonathan Bernier could thwart another championship run by the Hershey Bears. Bernier was a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings and is considered one of the elite prospects in the world at his position. He was the most hyped netminder the Bears faced in a postseason series since Carey Price helped Hamilton defeat them in the 2007 finals. This was exactly the type of series Michal Neuvirth looks forward to.
http://www.csnwashington.com/05/25/10/landing.html?blockID=241165


FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
2005 Calder Cup champions Mike Richards (1-2-3) and Jeff Carter (2-0-2) combined for three goals and five points as Philadelphia advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997 with a 4-2 victory over Montreal on Monday… 2008 Baz Bastien Award winner Michael Leighton stopped 25 of 27 shots in net for the Flyers, improving to 6-1 this postseason.


GAME 7 BY THE NUMBERS:
15 – Calder Cup Playoff Game 7’s that have gone into overtime, most recently Texas’s 6-5 win at Chicago in this year’s West Division Finals.

1 – Team in AHL history which has won two overtime Game 7’s in the same playoff year (2004 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins).

32-4
– Since 1997, record of AHL teams when scoring the first goal in a Game 7.


ON THIS DATE:
May 26, 2007 – Hershey and Hamilton both advance to the Calder Cup Finals, the Bears with a 3-1 win at Manchester and the Bulldogs with a 3-1 home win over Chicago.

May 26, 2004Vern Fiddler and Greg Classen each score twice and Wade Flaherty makes 44 saves as Milwaukee wins the Western Conference championship with a 4-1 win over Rochester in Game 5.

May 26, 2000J.P. Dumont scores twice in Rochester’s 4-1 win at Hartford in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals.

May 26, 1999Martin Biron stops 29 shots as Rochester shuts out Philadelphia, 3-0, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

May 26, 1995Jose Theodore makes 26 saves in his professional debut, but Mike Dunham records a 29-save shutout and Albany captures the Calder Cup with a 3-0 win at Fredericton.


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.