AHL Morning Skate: 6.13.22

A2-Springfield Thunderbirds vs. N3-Laval Rocket
Game 6 – Tonight, 7:05 ET, AHLTV
(Springfield leads series, 3-2)

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 3, LAVAL 2 (OT) | Recap
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

The Springfield Thunderbirds are one win away from the Calder Cup Finals as they host Laval in Game 6 tonight... James Neal scored at 18:35 of overtime to give Springfield a 3-2 win in Game 5 on Saturday... It was the first career OT goal in the Calder Cup Playoffs for Neal (3-5-8), who also has two overtime goals in Stanley Cup Playoff action... Nathan Todd (3-5-8) and Dakota Joshua (5-5-10) also scored for the Thunderbirds, who came back from a 2-0 deficit one night after squandering a 2-0 lead in a Game 4 loss... Joshua and linemates Will Bitten (7-9-16) and Mackenzie MacEachern (6-6-12) have combined for 8-11-19 in the series; the rest of the Springfield roster has 7-14-21... Charlie Lindgren (3-1, 3.06, .904) made 25 saves for Springfield in Game 5... Sam Anas (4-9-13), who had 13 points through the Thunderbirds’ first two rounds, is still looking for his first point of the Eastern Conference Finals... Cayden Primeau (8-4, 2.18, .935) made 44 saves for the Rocket in Game 5, setting a career high for the second night in a row... After scoring both Laval goals in Game 5, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (5-5-10) has five goals in his last four games after an 11-game goalless drought... Sami Niku (0-11-11) has notched an assist in four straight games for the Rocket... Laval is a perfect 25-for-25 on the penalty kill in the series... The Rocket are 1-0 when facing elimination this postseason, winning a decisive Game 5 in Syracuse on May 17... Springfield has outscored its opponents by a 25-6 margin in the third period and overtime this postseason, with Thunderbirds goaltenders registering a .961 save percentage (six goals on 154 shots)... 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)... Nine teams in AHL history have won both Game 6 and Game 7 of a series on the road, most recently the Providence Bruins (at Hershey) in 2017.

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. P1-Stockton Heat
Game 6 – Tuesday, 8:00 ET, AHLTV
(Chicago leads series, 3-2)

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 – STOCKTON 3, Chicago 2 (OT) | Recap
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


Four years ago with the Washington Capitals, Devante Smith-Pelly became the breakout star of the team’s run to a Stanley Cup championship.

After scoring seven goals in 75 regular-season games, Smith-Pelly unleashed seven goals in the playoffs, including one in each of the last three games of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final against Vegas as the Capitals won the organization’s first Stanley Cup.

Now Smith-Pelly, who turns 30 on Tuesday, is trying to produce an encore with the Laval Rocket.

Smith-Pelly split the 2018-19 season between the Capitals and the Hershey Bears, then logged a year playing for Beijing’s club in the Kontinental Hockey League before appearing in 14 games with the Ontario Reign last season. He joined Laval on a tryout on Dec. 30, 2021, and in 24 regular-season games with the Rocket collected four goals and four assists.

This postseason, Smith-Pelly appeared in three games of Laval’s North Division semifinal series against the Syracuse Crunch, but was out of head coach J-F Houle’s lineup until drawing back in on Friday for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Springfield. That added up to nearly a four-week absence for Smith-Pelly.

Houle re-inserted the 6-foot, 223-pound Smith-Pelly in a bid to add more size to counter Springfield’s physical, grinding approach.

“I want to be out there and playing,” Smith-Pelly told reporters after Game 5. “The situation has been me coming in and out, and I’ve just tried to work hard and be a positive influence off the ice and just be ready to get in there.

“I felt good the last two games, and I think I’ve been doing a lot of good things and trying to contribute. That’s all I’ve been focusing on ― just staying ready and doing whatever I need to do to help the team win whether it’s on the ice or off the ice.”

As he pursues a Calder Cup to go with his Stanley Cup, Smith-Pelly knows a playoff run in any league is special.

“It’s fun,” Smith-Pelly said of going into tonight’s Game 6 at Springfield. “Maybe not to be down in a series, but to come back in a series. These important games, the young guys have been amazing this whole ride. If I had to say anything to them, it’s just enjoy it, honestly, because this is a good run, and they’re doing amazing.”

Patrick Williams

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.