AHL Morning Skate: 6.4.22

A2-Springfield Thunderbirds vs. N3-Laval Rocket
Game 1 – Tonight, 7:35 ET, AHLTV

Game 1 – Sat., June 4 – Laval at Springfield, 7:35
Game 2 – Sun., June 5 – Laval at Springfield, 5:05
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Springfield at Laval, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – Springfield at Laval, 7:00
*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

The Eastern Conference Finals get underway tonight with Springfield hosting Laval in Game 1, the first June game ever played by a Springfield AHL club... The Thunderbirds swept both Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Charlotte in the Atlantic Division draw, while the Rocket needed five games to dispatch Syracuse before a three-game sweep of Rochester in the North Division... Springfield has won 10 straight games going back to the regular season, outscoring the opposition 47-14... Sam Anas (4-9-13) leads the Thunderbirds in playoff scoring, and Will Bitten (3-6-9) has picked up points in each of the team’s six postseason contests... Joel Hofer (4-0, 1.51, .962) stopped 116 of 120 shots in the three games vs. Charlotte last round... Laval has been off since May 25, when it eliminated Rochester in a triple-overtime Game 3 victory... Danick Martel, who played eight games with the Thunderbirds in 2019-20, is the Rocket’s leading playoff scorer with 6-2-8 in eight games, including a four-goal night in Game 1 last round... Cayden Primeau (6-1, 1.93, .936) has made at least 30 saves in six of his seven playoff starts... Springfield and Laval split their two regular-season meetings, with each team winning on the road... The Thunderbirds are 11-for-29 (37.9 percent) on the power play this postseason, while the Rocket have gone 8-for-29 (27.6 percent).

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. P1-Stockton Heat
Game 2 – Monday, 8:00 ET, AHLTV
(Chicago leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Fri., June 3 – CHICAGO 5, Stockton 4 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Mon., June 6 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Chicago at Stockton, 9:30
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – Chicago at Stockton, 10:00
*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

Going into Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals last night, Chicago head coach Ryan Warsofsky had compared his club’s pending battle with the Stockton Heat to a heavyweight fight.

The Wolves and Heat are now fully in that fight. Chicago fell behind 3-1, rallied to take a 4-3 lead, lost that advantage, and ultimately took a 1-0 series lead when Jamieson Rees struck in overtime.

“Yeah, I think we realized pretty quick when we were down 3-1,” Warsofsky told reporters after the game. “They’re a fast team, they shoot for offense quite a bit, so if you get caught sleeping just a little bit, they’re going to make you pay. We noticed that really pretty early in this hockey game.

“We’ll make some adjustments and make sure we’re ready for Monday.”

Warsofsky and the Wolves had gone through plenty of video preparation. That study time matched what the Wolves saw on the ice in Game 1 from Stockton.

“All four of their lines can score,” Warsofsky said. “Their D are really good. They’re mobile. They play with a really good structure. They push the pace really good with their team speed. They try to put you on your heels quick, and they play very similar to us.”

Said Rees, “They definitely play a different game than most teams. They play faster, closer to our pace. But we just had to play our game, and when we play our game, and we forecheck, and we take away their opportunities, good defense, there’s not much they can do.”

The Heat will have their own adjustments to make before Game 2 as well.

They liked their start. The middle, not so much.

Stockton built a 3-1 lead only to see the Wolves push back hard with a pair of second-period goals in a three-minute span. This Chicago attack can do that to even one of most defensively well-structured clubs in the American Hockey League.

“We’ve just got to bear down a little more,” said Heat forward Luke Philp, whose first-period goal tied the game at 1-1.

“We have to stick with what we know works for us. I think we started playing pretty well as a team early in the second there, and then we kind of got away from it, turned too many pucks over, and fed their offense a little too much. And ultimately it cost us.”

But between being one of four AHL playoff teams remaining, going against an elite club like the Wolves, and experiencing the Allstate Arena atmosphere, the Heat know they are fully engaged in what should be an excellent playoff series.

“It was fun for us,” Philp said. “We were really excited stepping into this building, a lot of energy. There’s a lot of excitement. Ultimately this one stings, for sure. But we have to have a short memory and move on.”

Patrick Williams

In Stanley Cup Playoff action last night, Mika Zibanejad scored the game-winning goal and Chris Kreider notched two assists as the New York Rangers defeated Tampa Bay, 3-2, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final... Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves for his eighth straight home win, extending his franchise playoff record... Nikita Kucherov and Nick Paul scored for the Lightning.

Carey Price, the MVP of the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs with the Hamilton Bulldogs, was announced as the winner of the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

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.