AHL Morning Skate: 6.14.22

Photo: Ross Dettman

A2-Springfield Thunderbirds vs. N3-Laval Rocket
Game 7 – Wednesday, 7:05 ET, AHLTV
(Series tied, 3-3)

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 5, SPRINGFIELD 1 | Recap
Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Laval at Springfield, 7:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. P1-Stockton Heat
Game 6 – Tonight, 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

The Chicago Wolves return home to host the Stockton Heat in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals tonight... The Wolves still lead three games to two, but missed two chances to wrap up the series in Stockton over the weekend... The Heat came from behind for a pair of overtime wins to hand the Wolves their first set of back-to-back losses since Mar. 12-13... Connor Mackey (1-3-4) scored the decisive goal in Game 5 on Saturday, striking at 14:27 of overtime... It was Mackey’s first goal since Feb. 3... Walker Duehr (5-1-6) and Jakob Pelletier (4-3-7) also scored, and Byron Froese (1-9-10) notched two assists... Dustin Wolf (8-4, 2.24, .927) made 37 saves in the win... Spencer Smallman (1-2-3) and Richard Panik (2-4-6) scored for the Wolves in Game 5, and Alex Lyon (8-2, 1.96, .924) stopped 32 of 35 shots... Jack Drury (7-9-16), who tallied an assist in Game 5, leads all scorers with 2-5-7 in the series... Chicago is 6-for-19 on the power play in the series, and has killed off 22 of 23 Heat power plays... The Wolves have scored the first goal in each game of this series... Stockton is bidding to become just the fifth team ever to force a Game 7 after losing the first three games of a series... 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.

Danick Martel is tailor-made for postseason play.

Martel plays a feisty, abrasive style that can wear on opponents physically as well as on their collective patience. His presence becomes even more pronounced for opponents tasked with facing him six times in 10 nights, as Springfield has had to do during the Eastern Conference Finals.

With two goals and an assist in Game 6 last night, Martel is now one off the league lead with nine goals this postseason, and is tied for fourth in playoff scoring with 15 points. He has also produced a league-high 59 shots on goal, 22 of them coming in just the past four games.

Martel is a four-time 20-goal scorer in the AHL, but he admittedly struggled to produce at times during his first season in Laval, finishing the regular season with 33 points (17 goals, 16 assists) in 70 games.

Martel, who also reached the conference finals with Lehigh Valley in 2018, knows the Calder Cup Playoffs are “a grinding game.”

“You need to work hard every game, and if you work hard, the results are going to come,” he told reporters after Game 6. “I think this season I didn’t score as much as I wished for in the past, but in the playoffs everything is going in right now. I am bringing a lot of pucks to the net, and hopefully it keeps going in.”

Martel began the game on a line with Joël Teasdale and Jesse Ylönen, but Ylönen departed the contest midway through the first period and did not return. Rocket head coach J-F Houle did not sound an optimistic note concerning Ylönen’s chances for Game 7.

“We’ve had guys step up all year,” Houle said. “We have a lot of extra players right now sitting on the sidelines that could come in and play well, so we feel good about that.”

Nobody ever said that reaching the Calder Cup Finals would be easy.

Throughout the Eastern Conference Finals, Springfield head coach Drew Bannister has preached that his team needs to generate more net-front traffic and overall disruption in order to solve standout Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau. That preaching will continue all the way until Wednesday’s Game 7 in Springfield and then some more.

The Thunderbirds have one more opportunity to figure out Primeau. Accomplish that, and a trip to the Calder Cup Finals awaits. But doing so will take a lot of unpleasant time winning space and corralling rebounds near Primeau’s net in Game 7.

“I still don’t think we're getting enough traffic there and creating enough second secondary chances,” Bannister said after last night’s Game 6 setback. “I thought a lot of the recoveries they were able to get to before us. I didn’t think we had a lot of jump in our game, and they seemed to be able to get to more pucks than we did.”

“Goalies at this level right now that are still playing, when they can see [a shot] they’re going to make the save 99 percent of the time.”

Wednesday will provide yet another development opportunity for Bannister’s prospects as they face an elimination game for the first time in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Fortunately for the Thunderbirds, a successful regular season earned them home ice for Game 7 and a chance to advance in front of another strong MassMutual Center crowd.

“I would just say it’s one of those games where we didn’t have our legs underneath us,” Bannister said. “Usually when we come back we’re a better hockey team, so I expect us to respond here on Wednesday.”

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.