AHL Morning Skate: 6.25.22

Photo: Lucas Armstrong

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. A2-Springfield Thunderbirds
Game 5 – Tonight, 7:05 ET, AHLTV, NHL Network Radio (SiriusXM 91)
(Chicago leads series, 3-1)

Game 1 – Sun., June 19 – Springfield 5, CHICAGO 4 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Mon., June 20 – CHICAGO 6, Springfield 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., June 22 – Chicago 4, SPRINGFIELD 0 | Recap
Game 4 – Fri., June 24 – Chicago 4, SPRINGFIELD 2 | Recap
Game 5 – Sat., June 25 – Chicago at Springfield, 7:05
*Game 6 – Tue., June 28 – Springfield at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 29 – Springfield at Chicago, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

The Chicago Wolves are one win away from a Calder Cup championship as they look to close out the Springfield Thunderbirds in Game 5 at a packed MassMutual Center tonight... After coughing up a two-goal third-period lead and dropping Game 1 in overtime, the Wolves have outscored the Thunderbirds 14-4 in winning three straight and moving to the brink of their first title since 2008... Pyotr Kochetkov (5-1, 1.65, .950) made 39 saves in last night’s 4-2 Chicago victory, a personal high over his 21 AHL appearances this season... Jack Drury (9-13-22) and Richard Panik (6-4-10) scored on the power play late in the first period of Game 4 to stake the Wolves to a 2-0 lead; Chicago has scored two power-play goals in each game of the series (8-for-18, 44.4 percent)... Panik has scored a goal in nine consecutive Calder Cup Finals games, including all four this series and the last five of the 2013 Finals when he was with Syracuse... Andrew Poturalski (7-14-21) notched a goal and an assist last night as did Josh Leivo (14-14-28), who now has points in 16 of Chicago’s 17 playoff games including nine multi-point outings... Leivo’s 28 points are tied for the most in a single Calder Cup Playoff year since the Wolves’ Jason Krog notched 12-26-38 in the 2008 postseason... Stefan Noesen (9-16-25), who recorded two more assists in Game 4, leads all scorers with 2-7-9 in the series... Klim Kostin (4-4-8) and James Neal (4-8-12) scored for Springfield last night; going back to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Thunderbirds’ last 11 goals have been scored by 11 different skaters... Joel Hofer (6-4, 2.56, .934) stopped 28 of 31 shots in Game 4 but suffered his fourth consecutive loss after a 6-0 start to the postseason... The Wolves have scored the game’s first goal in each of the four games of the Finals, and in 15 of 17 contests overall this postseason... Only three teams have ever won the Calder Cup after trailing the Finals three games to one: the 1949 Providence Reds (vs. Hershey), the 1947 Hershey Bears (vs. Pittsburgh) and the 1946 Buffalo Bisons (vs. Cleveland)... The Carolina Hurricanes organization is bidding for its third Calder Cup title, having won with affiliates in Charlotte (2019) and Springfield (1991).

Before this week, Chicago and Springfield were largely a mystery to each other.

A few players knew each other from one stop or another. But being based in separate conferences, the relationship was largely limited to video pre-scouting going into the Calder Cup Finals.

Now they know. With four games behind them, the clubs are fully engaged in a heated fight for the Calder Cup.

“It’s good, right?” Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky said of the growing rivalry. “These are two teams that are highly competitive, that want to win. There’s not a lot of ice out there, so you’ve got to fight for every inch and that’s the game of hockey.

“If you’re a fan, you love it. If you’re a player, you love it. This is what you play for.”

Springfield head coach Drew Bannister calls tonight’s Game 5 “a Game 7” for his team.

The Thunderbirds handled their last elimination test, assembling a masterful 4-0 win to eliminate Laval in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Just 10 days later, they are in the same predicament, down 3-1 to Chicago in the Calder Cup Finals.

Stopping the Wolves early will be one key for the Thunderbirds toward their goal of taking the series back to Chicago. The Wolves have struck first in each of the first four games this series, something that troubles Bannister.

“We’ve been chasing a lot of leads here,” Bannister said. “That’s one thing we’re going to have to do. We’ll have to come out and push and try to get the lead.

“I thought we had our legs. I thought our guys were skating, and I thought we did enough to create a little bit more. So really all you can do is build on that and get some momentum in the game.”

Patrick Williams

Tampa Bay extended the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 road win over Colorado in Game 5 last night... Ondrej Palat, one of two Lightning players remaining from Jon Cooper’s 2012 Calder Cup championship team in Norfolk, scored the winning goal with 6:22 remaining in regulation... Jan Rutta and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Tampa Bay, and Corey Perry recorded two assists... Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves in the win... Game 6 of the series is set for Sunday evening.

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.