AHL Morning Skate: 6.11.22

Photo: Jack Lima

A2-Springfield Thunderbirds vs. N3-Laval Rocket
Game 5 – Tonight, 7:00 ET, AHLTV
(Series tied, 2-2)

Game 1 – Sat., June 4 – SPRINGFIELD 2, Laval 1 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Sun., June 5 – Laval 4, SPRINGFIELD 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Springfield 6, LAVAL 3 | Recap
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – LAVAL 3, Springfield 2 (OT) | Recap
Game 5 – Sat., June 11 – Springfield at Laval, 7:00
Game 6 – Mon., June 13 – Laval at Springfield, 7:05
*Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Laval at Springfield, 7:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Laval hosts Springfield in a critical Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight, less than 24 hours after an emotion-filled 3-2 overtime win by the Rocket evened the series at two games apiece... Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored 4:06 into OT to give Laval the victory in a game it had trailed by two goals early... On the heels of an 11-game drought, Harvey-Pinard (3-5-8) has now scored goals in three consecutive games... Jean-Sébastien Dea (4-4-8) scored a buzzer-beater during a 5-on-3 Rocket power play at the end of the first period; official video review confirmed the goal was scored with one-tenth of a second on the clock... Cédric Paquette (4-3-7) tied the game 2:37 into the second period with his first goal of the series... The teams combined for 45 shots on goal in a frenzied opening period, with Mackenzie MacEachern (6-6-12) and Dakota Joshua (4-5-9) staking the Thunderbirds to a 2-0 lead just 7:26 into the contest... The Springfield trio of MacEachern, Joshua and Will Bitten (7-8-15) has combined for 14 points in the last two games... Cayden Primeau (8-3, 2.17, .934) made 42 saves in Game 4 for Laval and shut out the Thunderbirds over the final 56:40 of the contest... Joel Hofer (6-1, 1.80, .955) suffered his first loss of the postseason despite making 48 stops... Springfield has allowed an average of 39.8 shots on goal per game during the postseason... The Thunderbirds are 0-for-18 on the power play in the series; the Rocket are 1-for-10... In Calder Cup Playoffs history, there have been 140 previous best-of-seven series that were tied at 2-2; the Game 5 winner has won the series 115 times (82.1 percent).

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. P1-Stockton Heat
Game 5 – Tonight, 9:00 ET, AHLTV
(Chicago leads series, 3-1)

Game 1 – Fri., June 3 – CHICAGO 5, Stockton 4 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Mon., June 6 – CHICAGO 3, Stockton 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Chicago 3, STOCKTON 0 | Recap
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – STOCKTON 4, Chicago 3 (OT) | Recap
Game 5 – Sat., June 11 – Chicago at Stockton, 9:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 14 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Less than a minute away from elimination last night, the Stockton Heat rallied and grabbed their first win of the Western Conference Finals, a 4-3 overtime decision to set up tonight’s Game 5 with the Chicago Wolves at Stockton Arena... Glenn Gawdin (3-3-6), the fourth-year Heat forward, scored with 48.2 seconds left in regulation and again on a power play 6:43 into OT to secure the franchise’s first-ever Calder Cup Playoff overtime victory and end their first three-game losing streak of the season... The goals were Gawdin’s first points since May 13 against Bakersfield... Stockton was trailing by two goals in the third period when Justin Kirkland (7-4-11) cut the deficit in half just eight seconds after Josh Leivo (10-8-18) had given Chicago a 3-1 lead... Juuso Valimaki (0-3-3) assisted on both the tying and winning goals... Dustin Wolf (7-4, 2.31, .925) made 31 saves for Stockton... Jack Drury (7-8-15) and Andrew Poturalski (4-8-12) each had a goal and an assist for the Wolves, and Stefan Noesen (7-8-15) recorded two assists... Pyotr Kochetkov (1-1, 2.86, .918) turned aside 34 shots in net... Stockton had been 0-for-16 on the power play in the series before last night’s overtime goal... Chicago was 1-for-2 with the man advantage in Game 4, improving to 5-for-13 in the series... This is the seventh time in their Calder Cup Playoff history that the Wolves have had a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series; they are now 3-4 in those Game 4’s... Only three teams in AHL history have won a series after trailing 0-3, most recently Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2013 (vs. Providence).

Jean-Sébastien Dea had been going through an uncharacteristic dry spell going into Game 4.

Dea had finished second on the Rocket with 52 points (including a team-leading 26 goals) in 70 regular-season games, and had seven points in eight games over Laval’s first two playoff series. But the Thunderbirds had kept him without a point in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals.

“You never come to work wanting to play bad,” Dea said. “I try to help the team as much as possible, but sometimes you have bad days at work. We’re all humans. But at the end of the day it’s how you respond and move forward.”

That points shortage changed in Game 4.

Dea’s power-play goal in the final second of the first period keyed Laval’s comeback from a 2-0 hole, and he led a highly disruptive line with Danick Martel and Alex Belzile that created havoc for Springfield. The line combined for 21 of Laval’s 51 shots on goal, 11 of them coming from Dea.

Dea said that head coach J-F Houle challenged him to step up.

“I know as a player that I could give a little bit more,” Dea said. “It’s good that he’s able to challenge me, and I love that he’s able to tell me the truth and give me a little boost to produce and help the team.

“I think I answered pretty good tonight.”

The Heat are sticking around.

“I think [Game 4] shows our relentlessness there,” said Glenn Gawdin, whose game-tying and game-winning goals gave Stockton a 4-3 overtime victory last night and extended their run in the Western Conference Finals.

Before Gawdin’s winning goal on an overtime power play, Stockton had been scoreless in its past 23 attempts, last scoring with the man advantage in Game 3 of the Pacific Division Finals against the Colorado Eagles. But the Heat had reason enough to remain optimistic.

“That was big for us, and everybody on the ice there did something to help that one go in,” Gawdin said. “I think just sticking with our systems, not overcomplicating things... We had a good power play all year.”

Despite going into Game 4 facing elimination and still in a difficult predicament with the Wolves holding a 3-1 series lead, Gawdin said that the Heat have remained positive, “keeping that belief that we can still find a way out of this.”

Gawdin continued, “It starts with one, and we got that, so now our focus shifts to [Game 5]. It’s a new day, and we’ve just got to have a better game. We know they’re going to have another push. We’ve got to be ready.”

The process, if not the result, left Springfield head coach Drew Bannister relatively nonplussed following last night’s Game 4 loss in Laval.

Bannister’s Thunderbirds had checked off several of his stated goals. They grabbed the opening goal for the first time in the series, and they peppered Cayden Primeau with 16 shots in the game’s opening 10 minutes.

Scoring first has been a key Bannister talking point. They even tacked on a second goal 3:41 later to take a 2-0 lead.

“I thought we played a really good road game,” Bannister said. “I’m not concerned at all. We’ll just continue to do what we do. We’ll get back here and be ready to play.”

But Bannister will continue to stress the need to wear down the Rocket defensively, as well as disrupting Primeau.

“Our strengths [are] our forecheck and our cycle game,” Bannister said, “and when we played that way, it made it difficult on them. I think there were times we kind of let them off the hook. We didn’t create enough chaos around that blue paint.

“Just be more patient with the puck and play to our strengths.”

Patrick Williams

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