AHL Morning Skate: 6.6.22

Photo: Ross Dettman

A2-Springfield Thunderbirds vs. N3-Laval Rocket
Game 3 – Wednesday, 7:00 ET, AHLTV
(Series tied, 1-1)

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 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

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. P1-Stockton Heat
Game 2 – Tonight, 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

The Western Conference Finals return to action tonight as the Chicago Wolves host the Stockton Heat in Game 2 at Allstate Arena... The best-of-seven series between the top two teams in the AHL this season lived up to the hype in Game 1, which featured three ties and two lead changes before the Wolves pulled out a 5-4 overtime victory... Jamieson Rees (2-3-5), a second-round pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 NHL Draft, scored 2:26 into OT to give Chicago the 1-0 series lead... Josh Leivo (8-8-16) had two goals and an assist for the Wolves in Game 1, moving into sole possession of the AHL postseason scoring lead with 16 points in eight games... Stefan Noesen (6-5-11) and Jalen Chatfield (1-4-5) each posted a goal and an assist in the opener, while Jack Drury (5-6-11) and Joey Keane (0-7-7) notched two assists apiece... With 24 saves in Game 1, Alex Lyon (7-1, 2.13, .917) improved to 14-2-2 on home ice this season, including 5-0 during the playoffs... The Heat got goals from Luke Philp (1-3-4), Walker Duehr (4-1-5), Eetu Tuulola (2-1-3) and Connor Zary (1-1-2) on Friday night, while defensemen Connor Mackey (0-2-2) and Andy Welinski (1-5-6) tallied two assists each... Justin Kirkland (5-3-8) extended his scoring streak to six games with an assist in Game 1... Dustin Wolf (6-2, 2.20, .931) made 35 saves for Stockton... Chicago went 3-for-3 on the power play in Game 1 against a Heat team that led the AHL in penalty killing during the regular season (86.6 percent)... The Wolves are 17-1 all-time in Calder Cup Playoff series when winning Game 1.

Laval forward Jesse Ylönen had a big Game 2 in a building that has some family history.

A quarter-century ago, Ylönen’s father, Juha, starred during the Springfield Falcons’ run to the 1997 Southern Conference Finals, leading the team with 21 points in 17 games before they fell in Game 7 to the eventual Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. Juha Ylönen went on to play 341 National Hockey League games with Phoenix, Tampa Bay and Ottawa.

Now Jesse, a 2018 second-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens, is trying to take a similar path playing top-six minutes for the Rocket. Named the first star of last night’s 4-2 Rocket victory with a goal and two assists, the 22-year-old Ylönen has had a solid second season in Laval with 36 points in 52 regular-season games while also posting two goals and three assists in 14 NHL games with the Habs. He is earning that same valuable Calder Cup Playoff experience that his father took in 25 years earlier in Springfield.

In the North Division Finals against the Rochester Americans, the Rocket found themselves up against an opponent that could play run-and-gun hockey. This Springfield series more closely resembles Laval’s first playoff match-up against Syracuse, a battle in which space was tight throughout.

“It’s fun,” Ylönen said of his time in the Calder Cup Playoffs. “Wins don’t come easy. It’s a great challenge, but I really enjoy it.”

Thunderbirds head coach Drew Bannister’s words may well be echoing through his players’ heads on their bus ride to Laval this week.

Bannister has stressed the need for quick starts in the Eastern Conference Finals, and that message will take on even more urgency on the road. The next three games of the Eastern Conference Finals will take place at Place Bell, beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday night. That will be the Thunderbirds’ first in-person look at the playoff atmosphere in Laval, and settling down that crowd quickly will be job one for the visitors.

Springfield has allowed the first goal in back-to-back games to begin the series. During the regular season, the Thunderbirds scored first in 42 of their 76 games, going 25-11-5-1 in those contests.

“I thought the first 10 minutes ― whether it was will, desire, compete ― they were able to roll their way to situations that created more opportunities,” Bannister said of the Rocket’s start to Game 2.

Bannister thought his team was “a little bit disconnected, a little bit frustrated with the game.”

"That was a credit to them and how they played. We’ve got to come out a lot better than we have and find ways to score goals early in the game, build some momentum, and make them chase us.”

Patrick Williams

In Stanley Cup Playoff action last night, Ondrej Palat scored with 41.6 seconds remaining to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final... Palat won a Calder Cup championship with the Norfolk Admirals in 2012, and led the AHL in postseason scoring during the Syracuse Crunch’s run to the Finals in 2013... Nikita Kucherov notched a goal and two assists for the Lightning, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves... Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider scored for the Rangers, while Igor Shesterkin stopped 49 shots.

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins was announced as the 2021-22 winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward in the NHL... Bergeron, a five-time Selke Trophy recipient, spent the 2004-05 season with the Providence Bruins and helped them reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

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.