HERSHEY 7, ALBANY 4
Boyd Kane scored two of Hershey’s four goals in the third period, and the Bears officially clinched a spot in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 7-4 win over visiting Albany on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 10,804 fans at the Giant Center.
Hershey, which won the Calder Cup in both 2009 and 2010, is looking to become the AHL’s first back-to-back-to-back champion since the Springfield Indians collected three straight titles from 1960-62.
Aucoin’s first-period assist was his 700th career AHL point, making him the 21st player in league history to reach that plateau.
The Bears halted a three-game winless skid (0-2-1-0) and produced their greatest offensive output since an 8-3 win over the same Devils on Jan. 21.
LAKE ERIE 3, TORONTO 2 (SO)
Lake Erie continued its record-breaking winning streak in Toronto on Saturday behind the stellar goaltending of John Grahame, who stopped 37 of 39 shots through regulation and overtime, followed by denying four of five Marlies in the shootout. Despite being outshot 39-18 through 65 minutes, the Monsters overcame an early deficit to defeat Toronto, 3-2, winning their seventh straight on the road and eighth straight overall.
The Monsters are now 40-25-3-5 and remain in first place in the North Division with 88 points, four points ahead of second-place Manitoba.
Toronto established an early home ice advantage, scoring just 1:12 into the first period. Ryan Hamilton scored unassisted to quickly put the Marlies up 1-0.
Although the Monsters were outshot 12-5 in the opening frame, Joel Chouinard evened the score for Lake Erie with his goal at 17:58. Luke Walker and Julian Talbot assisted, sending the teams to the intermission tied at 1-1.
After a scoreless second period, Lake Erie’s Greg Mauldin and Toronto’s Hamilton traded goals in the third frame.
Mauldin and Walker registered shootout goals for the Monsters.
CHARLOTTE 5, PORTLAND 4
Chris Terry scored twice and Zach Boychuk earned three points on a goal and two assists to lead the Charlotte Checkers to a 5-4 road victory over the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Jacob Lagace recorded the first two-goal game of his AHL career in the loss. Mark Parrish and Mark Voakes also scored for the Pirates as they dropped their third straight game, falling to 43-20-6-2 with the loss but still clinching a playoff berth by virtue of Worcester’s loss to Springfield.
Lagace put the hosts up early in a high scoring first period, notching his eighth goal of the season only two minutes into the game. McNicoll and Terry provided an answer for Charlotte, giving them a brief 2-1 lead at the 16:48 mark. With 19 seconds remaining in the period, Voakes tipped in a rebound to send the game into the first intermission tied at two.
In the second period both teams combined for 29 shots, but the only tally came from Parrish at 17:43 to give Portland their second lead of the game.
The Checkers struck quickly in the third period, with Bobby Sanguinetti capitalizing on a four-on-four opportunity at 2:50 and Terry connecting on a power-play goal for his second of the game 85 seconds later. Charlotte upped their lead to two when Boychuk scored at 6:29, and would hold on for the victory after Lagace made the game interesting by cutting the lead to one with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
Checkers goaltender Justin Pogge earned the victory with 32 saves between the pipes.
SPRINGFIELD 7, WORCESTER 2
Springfield snapped its losing streak in a big way on Saturday night beating the Worcester Sharks 7-2 at the DCU Center. Rookie goaltender Paul Dainton collected his first AHL win stopping 39 of 41 shots, while Tomas Kubalik collected one goal and three assists in the win.
The Falcons started strong in the first period and continued to expand their lead throughout the night. Greg Moore scored a shorthanded marker at 9:34 of the opening period giving the Falcons a 1-0 lead, followed by Nikita Filatov converting on the power play at 12:25 of the first period giving Springfield a two-goal cushion through 20 minutes.
In the second period, the Falcons expanded their lead to 3-0 when Kubalik scored his team-leading 22nd marker of the year at 4:10 of the middle frame. Springfield took a 4-0 lead when John Moore tallied his fifth goal of the year at 9:58 of the middle frame.
The Falcons extended the advantage to 5-0 just 1:27 into the third period when rookie Aaron Bogosian scored his first AHL goal, followed by Jonathan Sigalet collecting his fourth goal of the year at 2:57 of the final frame giving Springfield a 6-0 lead.
The Sharks remained six points back of Connecticut for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
BINGHAMTON 4, PROVIDENCE 1
Binghamton moved one step closer to a playoff berth on Saturday as the Senators defeated the Atlantic Division’s Providence Bruins 4-1 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Roman Wick led the offense for the B-Sens, earning first star honors as he scored the game winning goal and added a pair of assists. Robin Lehner made his second straight start in goal for Binghamton, turning away 32 shots to earn the win and improve to 9-7-2 on the season.
The Bruins struck first as Alain Goulet blasted a shot from the right point which beat Lehner top shelf at 12:04 of the opening period. The goal was Goulet’s second of the season, assisted by Stefan Chaput. The B-Sens were quick to answer as Corey Locke beat Anton Khudobin for his 21st of the season at 13:51 to tie the game at one.
The B-Sens took their first lead of the game with 4:10 left in the middle period. Jim O’Brien fed the puck to Wick who one-timed a shot from the right circle to earn his 17th goal of the season. With the assist O’Brien earned his sixth point in three games (2-4-6).
The B-Sens increased their lead to two goals as Ryan Potulny netted his 21st of the season at 12:32 of the third, with assists credited to Derek Grant and Geoff Kinrade. Cody Bass would follow up Potulny’s goal in dramatic fashion, increasing Binghamton’s lead even further.
Wick fed the puck to a streaking Bass who although going down on the play, managed to tip the puck past Khudobin at the 14:56 mark while sliding across the ice on the seat of his pants. The goal was Bass’s fourth of the season and ultimately sealed the 4-1 victory for the B-Sens.
NORFOLK 2, MANCHESTER 1
Troy Milam and Chris Durno scored 38 seconds apart midway through the third period as Norfolk erased a 1-0 deficit and defeated visiting Manchester, 2-1, on Saturday night at the Scope.
Norfolk netminder Dustin Tokarski stopped 28 of 29 shots for his 21st win of the season (21-16-4)
The Monarchs opened scoring on the power play late in the first period. Justin Azevedo sent a pass from the high slot to Bud Holloway at the bottom of the left circle. Holloway one-timed the puck past the right leg of Tokarski at 15:42 for a 1-0 Manchester lead.
After a scoreless second period, the Admirals tied the game at 1-1 mid-way through the final frame. Johan Harju attempted a shot from the left circle that was deflected to the right half wall. Milam skated full stride into a slap shot that was tipped slightly by a Manchester defenseman and went over the left shoulder of Monarchs goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. The goal was Milam’s thirteenth of the season.
Just 38 seconds later, Norfolk took the lead on Durno’s eighteenth goal of the season. Pierre-Cedric Labrie sent a shot from a tight angle in the left circle that Zatkoff stopped. Labrie, Mike Angelidis and Durno each then began poking at the loose puck in the crease before Durno was able to jam to puck beneath Zatkoff and into the net for a 2-1 Admirals lead.
Despite the loss, Manchester clinched a playoff spot on Saturday by virtue of Worcester’s loss to Springfield.
SYRACUSE 6, ROCHESTER 4
Kyle Palmieri tallied twice and added an assist, Patrick Maroon contributed a goal and two assists and Maxime Macenauer chipped in two goals, as the Syracuse Crunch defeated rival Rochester 6-4 in front of a sellout crowd of 6,198 fans at The Oncenter War Memorial Arena.
The win was the Crunch’s fifth in their last six games and extended the club’s home win streak to a season-high four. The victory also gave Syracuse the win in the season series against Rochester, going 5-4-1-0 in 10 games.
Brian McGrattan put the Crunch on the board and made it 1-0 just 39 seconds into the game when he came in down the left wing and threw a backhand shot on goal that pin-balled around before sliding past Marc Cheverie.
Cory Conacher rifled a wrister that beat Jean-Philippe Levassuer right under the crossbar at the 6:19 mark of the first to tie the game at one apiece. Just 1:40 later, Rochester took its first and only lead of the game when Mark Cullen re-directed a Bill Thomas shot past Levasseur to make it 2-1.
The Crunch stormed back to tie the game at the 10:23 mark after Maroon fed Palmieri, who broke in all alone and beat Cheverie with a beautiful backhand to forehand deke that the Rochester netminder had no chance on.
The turning point may have come with just one minute left in the first when Cheverie went to feed the puck up ice to his defense, but it was picked off by Macenauer who flipped a shot into the half empty cage to give the Crunch back their two-tally lead at 3-2 heading into the second.
Maroon made it a 4-2 game just over five minutes into the second after pounding a patient feed from Palmieri at the right side of the net past Tyler Plante, who replaced Cheverie to start the stanza
Michael Caruso cut it to 4-3 a minute and a half later, but Palmieri notched his second of the game on the power play at the 17:42 mark to give the Crunch a 5-3 lead heading into the third.
Macenauer added his second of the contest and fourth in his last three games at the 11:46 mark of the third to make it a 6-3 game. Hugh Jessiman recorded his seventh of the season to close the gap to 6-4 with 27 seconds left, but the deficit proved to be too much as the Crunch skated away with the victory.
CHICAGO 2, HAMILTON 1 (SO)
Goaltender Edward Pasquale stopped three of five Hamilton shooters in the shootout as Chicago earned a 2-1 win over visiting Hamilton before 9,116 fans on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
The Bulldogs opened the game’s scoring at 8:36 of the first period. Ryan Russell received the puck from Kyle Klubertanz and sent it to J.T. Wyman, who banked it off the back of Pasquale and into the back of the net.
Following a scoreless second stanza, the Wolves tied the game 1-1 at 6:15 of the final frame. Riley Holzapfel sent the puck to Mark Matheson, who skated into the ‘Dogs zone. Matheson snapped a shot that beat Hamilton starting goaltender Drew MacIntyre over the right shoulder.
Neither team could score in the overtime period, sending the game to a shootout. Michael Davies, Ryan Garbutt and Sergio Somma beat MacIntyre while only Mathieu Carle and Dustin Boyd scored for Hamilton.
TEXAS 5, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Colton Sceviour scored twice and added an assist for his second consecutive three-point effort as Texas earned a 5-1 win over visiting Grand Rapids on Saturday at the Cedar Park Center.
The Stars swept their two-game weekend set against the Griffins and extended their winning streak to a season-high four consecutive games.
Texas goalie Richard Bachman (26-16-5) stopped 29 of 30 shots for the win, and four Texas skaters had multi-point nights in the contest. Forwards Greg Rallo, Francis Wathier and Ray Sawada each tallied two points, as the Stars improved to 21-10-3-3 at home this year.
Texas grabbed an early lead just 3:37 into the first period with a goal by right wing Greg Rallo. Rallo’s 26th goal of the year went unassisted to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. The Stars extended their lead with 4:27 remaining in the period as left wing Ondrej Roman netted his eighth goal of the season. Left wing Francis Wathier and center Aaron Gagnon each added an assist on the play to end the frame 2-0 Texas.
Stars right wing Colton Sceviour scored the lone second-period goal on the power play with just 3:24 remaining. Rallo and Wathier each supplied an assist on the play and the 3-0 tally.
Texas continued the scoring in the third period as Sceviour fired the puck past Brown at 3:38 to extend the lead to 4-0. Right wing Ray Sawada and defenseman Maxime Fortunus helped set up Sceviour’s second goal of the night. Sawada stretched the Texas lead to 5-0 at 8:30 on the power play. Sceviour and center Travis Morin each provided an assist on Sawada’s tenth goal of the year.
Grand Rapids rookie forward Gustav Nyquist scored his club’s lone goal at 11:49.
PEORIA 2, SAN ANTONIO 0
Rookie goaltender Jake Allen stopped all 28 San Antonio shots for his sixth shutout of the year, leading Peoria to a 2-0 win over visiting San Antonio on Saturday in front of 9,531 fans at Carver Arena.
Nicholas Drazenovic’s 17th goal of season stood up as the game-winner in a key divisional matchup, as the Rivermen (38-28-2-5) are now sitting in a three-way tie for fourth place in the West Division with Chicago (37-27-3-6) and Oklahoma City (36-27-2-9) with 83 points apiece.
Drazenovic’s goal came at 8:07 of the second period and came off his own rebound. After taking a pass from Derek Nesbitt at the blueline, Drazenovic came bursting between the defense and wristed a shot that was kicked away by Climie. The rebound came right back to Drazenovic and he buried it to the right of Climie.
It was the sixth shutout of the season for Allen, who is now one back of the league lead in the category. It marked the first shutout for Allen – and the Rivermen – since Jan. 1 against Grand Rapids.
HOUSTON 6, OKLAHOMA CITY 5 (SO)
Casey Wellman scored the deciding shootout tally and notched a goal and a helper in regulation as the Houston Aeros edged the visiting Oklahoma City Barons 6-5 in front of 7,927 on Saturday night at Toyota Center.
The win moved the Aeros into a tie for first place with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL’s West Division playoff race. The Aeros have four more wins than the Admirals and have also played three more games.
Jed Ortmeyer gave Houston a 1-0 lead with 12 seconds left in the first period by slamming a back-door pass by Barons goaltender Bryan Pitton. The teams combined for six goals in the middle period, starting with Pascal Morency’s first goal as an Aero at 3:54 to make it a 2-0 Houston advantage.
The Barons cut the lead to 2-1 with Bryan Helmer’s tally 1:20 later, but the Aeros responded in kind and regained the two-goal lead on Robbie Earl’s power play marker at 12:20. Colin McDonald answered with two power play goals in a little over three minutes to knot the score at 3-3 and then Milan Kytnar gave the Barons their first lead of the night with 1:02 left in the period.
Rau’s goal at 13:26 of the third gave Houston a 5-4 advantage but the Barons forced extra time with on Mark Arcobello’s extra-attacker goal with 34 seconds remaining in regulation.
The teams will square off for the third time in as many days on Sunday in Houston.
ROCKFORD 3, MILWAUKEE 2 (OT)
Milwaukee tied an American Hockey League record for longest road points streak, but 2011 AHL All-Star defenseman Brian Connelly scored 3:02 into overtime to five Rockford a 3-2 win over the visiting Admirals on Saturday at the MetroCentre.
Jassen Cullimore picked up the lone assist on Connelly’s eighth goal of the season, which lifted the IceHogs to their third consecutive victory.
Rockford goaltender Hannu Toivonen emerged with the victory after making 44 saves on 46 shots between the pipes.
Milwaukee is now 9-0-4-2 in its last 15 road games, matching the single-season record held by the 2005-06 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the 2007-08 Rockford IceHogs. The Admirals have one road game remaining this season, Apr. 9 at Peoria.
At 39-19-6-8 (92 points), Milwaukee fell into a first-place tie with Houston in the West Division but still holds three games in hand on the Aeros.
ADIRONDACK 3, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2
Matt Read’s first professional goal came on the power play at 14:55 of the third period, snapping a 2-2 tie and sending Adirondack to a 3-2 win over visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Phantoms, who finished 3-for-8 with the man advantage, earned their second consecutive victory after edging Hershey on Friday night.
BRIDGEPORT 5, CONNECTICUT 1
Rob Hisey notched two goals and added an assist to lead Bridgeport past host Connecticut on Saturday by a 5-1 count in front of 9,276 fans at the XL Center.
Derek Couture netted the lone goal for the Whale, whose five-game winning streak came to an end. Connecticut remains six points up on Worcester for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.