AHL Morning Skate: 5.22.22

Photo: Lucas Armstrong

A1-Charlotte Checkers vs. A2-Springfield Thunderbirds
Game 1 – Today, 3:05 ET, AHLTV

Game 1 – Sun., May 22 – Charlotte at Springfield, 3:05
Game 2 – Wed., May 25 – Charlotte at Springfield, 7:05
Game 3 – Sat., May 28 – Springfield at Charlotte, 6:00
*Game 4 – Sun., May 29 – Springfield at Charlotte, 6:00
*Game 5 – Tue., May 31 – Springfield at Charlotte, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Charlotte and Springfield kick off the Atlantic Division Finals at the MassMutual Center this afternoon... The clubs finished tied atop the division in the regular season with identical .625 points percentages; the Checkers earned the division title by virtue of winning more of its games in regulation... Springfield won six of eight meetings between the teams in the regular season, including all four on home ice... The Thunderbirds were 26-10-2-0 at home during the regular season, and have won eight of their last nine home games including two in their division semifinal sweep of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton... Twelve different Thunderbirds scored a goal and 15 players recorded a point in their series with the Penguins, led by Sam Anas (2-5-7)... Charlie Lindgren (2-0, 3.50, .916) and Joel Hofer (1-0, 2.01, .944) have split Springfield’s goaltending duties thus far... The Checkers are coming off a four-game decision over Bridgeport in the division semifinals... Zac Dalpe (5-0-5) led Charlotte in scoring, netting five goals on nine shots in the series... Max McCormick (3-2-5) had a hat trick and Joey Daccord (3-1, 2.30, .907) made 23 saves to help the Checkers clinch the series with a 4-0 win over the Islanders last Monday... The Florida Panthers, Charlotte’s primary affiliate, was previously affiliated with the Thunderbirds from 2016 to 2020, led by current Checkers head coach Geordie Kinnear.

N3-Laval Rocket vs. N5-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Tonight, 7:00 ET, AHLTV

Game 1 – Sun., May 22 – Rochester at Laval, 7:00
Game 2 – Mon., May 23 – Rochester at Laval, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 25 – Laval at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 4 – Fri., May 27 – Laval at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sun., May 29 – Rochester at Laval, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

The North Division Finals get underway this evening at a sold-out Place Bell, as Laval hosts Rochester in Game 1... Both the Rocket and the Americans are coming off come-from-behind road victories in winner-take-all Game 5’s to complete series upsets... Laval defeated Syracuse on Tuesday, 3-2 in overtime, after trailing 2-0 in the second period; Rochester scored three times in the third period to claim a 4-2 win in Utica on Thursday... Gabriel Bourque (1-0-1) was the OT hero for the Rocket in Game 5; the series-clinching goal was his first point of the postseason... Sami Niku (0-5-5) leads Laval in playoff scoring, while Alex Belzile (4-0-4) has scored a team-high four goals... Cayden Primeau (3-1, 1.96, .940) made 32 saves in Tuesday’s Game 5 win for the Rocket... Amerks forward Arttu Ruotsalainen (8-3-11) leads the entire AHL in postseason goals and points, finding the scoresheet in all seven playoff games to date... Rookies JJ Peterka (4-5-9) and Peyton Krebs (0-9-9) have nine points apiece through seven games... Aaron Dell (5-2, 3.29, .882) has started each postseason game for Rochester so far... The Amerks are 6-for-18 on the power play (33.3 percent) during the playoffs; the Rocket are 5-for-17 (29.4 percent).

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. C3-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 2 – Today, 4:00 ET, AHLTV
(Chicago leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – CHICAGO 6, Milwaukee 2 | Recap
Game 2 – Sun., May 22 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 4:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 25 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 27 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 29 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 4:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Chicago hosts Milwaukee in Game 2 this afternoon on the heels of last night’s 6-2 Wolves victory at Allstate Arena... The hosts needed just 32 seconds to open the scoring as Jack Drury (4-2-6) got the first of his two goals on the night... With the game tied at 1-1, Chicago scored three times in the second period to break it open... Josh Leivo (2-3-5), Jamieson Rees (1-2-3) and Stelio Mattheos (2-2-4) all tallied a goal and an assist in Game 1... Max Lajoie (1-3-4) recorded a career-high three assists... Alex Lyon (4-0, 1.50, .941) finished with 33 saves, improving to 10-1-1 in his last 12 decisions going back to Feb. 20... Lyon has a 1.89 GAA and a .940 save percentage in 17 career Calder Cup Playoff appearances... Cole Schneider (2-3-5) and Jimmy Huntington (3-1-4) scored for the Admirals... Jeremy Davies (0-5-5) extended his scoring streak to five games with an assist... Connor Ingram (1-2, 4.50, .871) allowed four goals on 21 shots in two periods of work for Milwaukee; Devin Cooley (2-1, 2.74, .933) played the third period and recorded 12 saves... Chicago is 16-1 in Calder Cup Playoff series when winning Game 1; Milwaukee is 1-10 when losing Game 1.

P1-Stockton Heat vs. P3-Colorado Eagles
Game 1 – Monday, 9:30 ET, AHLTV

Game 1 – Mon., May 23 – Colorado at Stockton, 9:30
Game 2 – Tue., May 24 – Colorado at Stockton, 9:30
Game 3 – Fri., May 27 – Stockton at Colorado, 9:05
*Game 4 – Sun., May 29 – Stockton at Colorado, 9:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May 31 – Stockton at Colorado, 9:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Going into Sunday’s Game 1 of the North Division Finals against the Laval Rocket, Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert provided several injury updates via the team’s Twitter account on Saturday.

Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is “inching closer,” practicing before the Amerks departed for Laval. With Luukkonen out, Aaron Dell has started all seven games of Rochester’s postseason so far, with Michael Houser backing up. Luukkonen has not played since the Amerks’ season finale against Utica on April 29.

Defenseman Mattias Samuelsson “is not ready yet, but getting better.” Samuelsson played in 42 games for the parent Buffalo Sabres during the regular season before his postseason assignment to Rochester, but he has yet to play in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Forwards Michael Mersch and Linus Weissbach are still out, the team reported, and will be “reassessed” after this weekend. Mersch has not played since Game 3 of the North Division semifinal series against Utica; Weissbach has been out of action since Game 1 of the Amerks’ opening-round series with the Belleville Senators.

The Stockton Heat have added an intriguing late-round prospect as they prepare to face the Colorado Eagles in the Pacific Division Finals.

With Game 1 set for Monday at Stockton, Calgary Flames 2020 sixth-round pick Rory Kerins has joined the Heat following the completion of his Ontario Hockey League campaign with Sault Ste. Marie. Kerins, 20, exploded for 118 points (43 goals, 75 assists) in 67 OHL games this season to rank second in league scoring.

Kerins is part of Calgary’s promising 2020 draft class that has already shown some impact with the Heat. Forward Connor Zary, the 24th overall pick that year, provided 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 53 games as an AHL rookie in a season delayed by a broken ankle sustained in training camp with Calgary. Fourth-round pick Daniil Chechelev is part of the Heat goaltending corps for the postseason. Seventh-rounder Ilya Solovyov played 51 regular-season games on the Heat blue line, and defenseman Yan Kuznetsov, a second-round pick, started the season with Stockton before returning to junior.

In addition, Calgary 2019 third-round pick Ilya Nikolaev has agreed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Flames and will report to Stockton. The 20-year-old forward had 72 points (23 goals, 49 assists) in 58 games with Tri-City of the United States Hockey League in 2021-22.

Undrafted blueliner Rhett Rhinehart from Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League has signed an amateur tryout deal with Stockton as well. The 20-year-old had 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 53 games this season.

Patrick Williams

In last night’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist, Mikko Rantanen recorded two assists and Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves as Colorado defeated St. Louis, 5-2, to take a 2-1 series lead... Logan O’Connor scored his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal for the Avalanche.

In action at the 2022 IIHF World Championship yesterday, two-time AHL MVP T.J. Tynan notched two assists, including one on Adam Gaudette’s winning goal, to lift the United States to a 3-2 overtime victory over Sweden... 2016 Calder Cup champion Dean Kukan recorded a goal and an assist as Switzerland defeated Canada, 6-3... Adam Huska made 16 saves for Slovakia in a 3-1 win over Italy... Mikael Granlund tallied a goal and an assist as Finland defeated Austria, 3-0... David Pastrnak registered two goals and an assist in the Czech Republic’s 4-1 win over Norway... Peter Regin and Joachim Blichfeld scored and Sebastien Dahm made 19 saves as Denmark shut out France, 3-0.

Watch the Calder Cup Playoffs on AHLTV
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2022 Calder Cup championship. AHLTV features live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as OTT platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. A subscription is just $29.99 for the entire postseason, or just $8.99 for a day pass. Visit AHLTV.com for details.