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Round 1 ends with exciting Game 7’s

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The field of 16 has been reduced to eight as the first round of the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs concluded last night.

Philadelphia closed out Albany with a 2-0 win in Game 7 at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday night, as Scott Munroe recorded the seventh Game 7 shutout in AHL history. Munroe finished the series with a 1.29 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage, stopping 101 of 102 shots over his final 235:22 of work. Counterpart Michael Leighton (3-4, 1.18, .968) allowed just 10 goals on 314 shots in the series for the River Rats, but it’s the Phantoms who move on to face Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the second round, the fourth all-time playoff meeting between the in-state foes.

The other Game 7 in the first round took place on Monday, with Toronto pulling out a 2-1 win over San Antonio on a Bates Battaglia goal with 58.1 seconds remaining in regulation. The goal gave the Marlies their first-ever playoff series win and set up a North Division Finals showdown with the Syracuse Crunch, who became the first team in AHL history to win four overtime games in one series en route to dispatching the Manitoba Moose. Trevor Frischmon was the latest Crunch player to assume the role of hero, scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 on Monday.

The West Division Finals will be a Second City showdown between the Chicago Wolves and the top affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, the cross-state rival Rockford IceHogs. The ’Hogs won their Calder Cup Playoff debut with a decision over Houston, tying an AHL record by allowing just six goals in the five-game series. The Wolves knocked off Milwaukee in six games to advance past the first round for the sixth time in as many AHL playoff appearances.

The Atlantic Division Finals are already underway, with Providence racing out to a 2-0 series lead on the strength of a pair of convincing home wins over Portland last weekend. The Bruins have taken their first six playoff games on the heels of a 55-win regular season, with rookie standout Tuukka Rask (6-0, 1.15, .952) and First Team AHL All-Star Pascal Pelletier (4-4-8) leading the way.

DIVISION SEMIFINAL NOTES … Of the 45 games played in the first round, 28 were decided by a single goal, including 16 that went to overtime… Road teams were a remarkable 12-4 in OT… Syracuse and Manitoba tied an AHL record with five overtime games in one series… Average attendance for the six-game Crunch-Moose series was 6,421… Tim Brent put up a league-best 11 points in five games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Darren Haydar scored two game-winning goals in the first round for Chicago, giving him 12 GWG in 77 career AHL playoff games… The Philadelphia-Albany series, which featured the longest game in AHL history, was also the longest series ever, playing out over 513:36… Both the Phantoms (12 goals against) and River Rats (11 GA) surpassed the previous AHL record of 13 goals allowed in a seven-game set… Houston and Rockford were a combined 0-for-39 on the power play in their series… Portland was the only lower-seeded team to win its first-round series, ousting Hartford in five games.

Division Finals Series Previews: Atlantic || East || North || West

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Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
Providence Bruins vs. Portland Pirates

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 26 – PROVIDENCE 4, Portland 0
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 27 – PROVIDENCE 7, Portland 1
Game 3 – Fri., May 2 – Providence at Portland, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May 4 – Providence at Portland, 4:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May 6 – Providence at Portland, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 9 – Portland at Providence, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sat., May 10 – Portland at Providence, 7:05

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. Philadelphia Phantoms
Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Mon., May 5 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – TBD – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia (WC)
*Game 7 – Tue., May 13 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
Toronto Marlies vs. Syracuse Crunch
Game 1 – Fri., May 2 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30
Game 2 – Sun., May 4 – Syracuse at Toronto, 4:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 6 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30
*Game 6 – Sat., May 10 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:30
*Game 7 – Mon., May 12 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
Chicago Wolves vs. Rockford IceHogs

Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Sun., May 4 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:05
Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – Chicago at Rockford, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 11 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 13 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00
  
*if necessary… All times Eastern
(WC) at Wachovia Center