AHL Morning Skate: Admirals, Aeros set for Game 4

Every game day from now until the end of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the AHL Morning Skate takes a spin around the AHL ice with recaps and previews, news and notes, facts and figures, and the top headlines from around the American Hockey League.


Providence 4, WORCESTER 2 (PRO leads series, 2-0)
W-B/SCRANTON 3, Hershey 2 (OT) (HER leads series, 2-1)
Manitoba 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2 (MTB wins series, 4-0)

1. Mark Letestu tallied the game-winning goal in overtime as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton climbed back into the East Division Finals with a 3-2 win over Hershey in Game 3.

2. Goaltender Cory Schneider stopped 30 of 32 shots to claim his seventh straight win and help Manitoba complete a four-game sweep of Grand Rapids with a 3-2 triumph.

3. Three-time AHL All-Star Martin St. Pierre posted a goal and an assist as Providence doubled up Worcester by a 4-2 count to take a 2-0 series lead in the Atlantic Division Finals.

Game 4 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05 (HOU leads series, 2-1)

CC09rd2_160x600.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Worcester Sharks
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Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 28 – PROVIDENCE 3, Worcester 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Wed., May 6 – Providence 4, WORCESTER 2
Game 3 – Fri., May 8 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 11 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 13 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Thu., May 14 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins
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Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – HERSHEY 5, W-B/Scranton 3
Game 2 – Sun., May 3 – HERSHEY 3, W-B/Scranton 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 6 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 8 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins
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Game 1 – Fri., May 1 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 3 – Mon., May 4 – Manitoba 3, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 6 – Manitoba 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2

West Division Finals – Series
“L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MILWAUKEE 4, Houston 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 1
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05 (HOU leads series, 2-1)
Houston hosts Milwaukee tonight in Game 4 of the West Division Finals, with the Aeros looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the division-champion Admirals… Houston rookie Matt Beaudoin, who played two games for Milwaukee earlier this season, broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal in the third period of Game 3 on Monday as the Aeros went on to a 3-1 victory… Krys Kolanos and Corey Locke also netted goals in that contest for the Aeros, who have won three of their first four home playoff games this year… Houston goaltender Anton Khudobin, who turns 23 today, made 27 saves in Game 3 and surrendered just one goal for the second time in the series… Khudobin had five wins in 22 career AHL appearances entering the postseason; his playoff record now stands at 6-4… The Aeros’ power play ranks third in the AHL during the playoffs at 12-for-47 (25.5%)… Houston has combined for 12 goals in the first and second periods this postseason but has outscored opponents 14-9 in the third frame and overtime… Ex-Aero Ryan Jones netted the Admirals’ only goal in the Game 3 loss and shows a team-high three goals in this series (3-0-3) after scoring just once in Milwaukee’s first-round sweep of Rockford… Mike Santorelli tallied a goal and two helpers in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win in Game 2 but has been held scoreless in the team’s two defeats… The Admirals are 5-0 this postseason when they score the game’s first goal but 0-2 when they allow it… Including the regular season, Milwaukee has lost three of its four games at Toyota Center this year.


Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
It took the minimum four games to oust the Grand Rapids Griffins but the Manitoba Moose would probably prefer to sweep the details of Wednesday’s clincher under the carpet. The Moose struck for two power-play goals in the first 27 minutes and then held on for dear life in a 3-2 victory, winning the AHL’s North Division best-of-seven final series 4-0. The franchise’s first-ever four-game sweep punches a ticket to the Western Conference final against the winner of the Milwaukee-Houston series. The final minutes of Wednesday’s game, especially the last 45 seconds, saw the Griffins pour it on for the equalizer in one last desperate attempt to extend the series.

Michael Zuidema, Grand Rapids Press
The last thing the Grand Rapids Griffins wanted to do Wednesday night was gather at center ice to salute the fans. Only because that would mean that their season was over. But the Griffins were unable to avoid ending their year, as the Manitoba Moose completed a sweep in the North Division finals with a 3-2 win at Van Andel Arena. Grand Rapids played their best game of the series, but still was swept in the playoffs for the third time in franchise history. “It was a disappointing series, but the effort by our team tonight was unquestioned,” Griffins coach Curt Fraser said. “They’re a really good bunch of guys. They got along so well together in the locker room, and it’s a shame it had to end like this.”

Bill Ballou, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
The Sharks had to do the unlikely just to get this far in the Calder Cup playoffs. Now, they have to do the unprecedented to keep their hopes alive. Worcester lost to the Providence Bruins, 4-2, last night at the DCU Center to fall behind their Route 146 rivals, 2-0, in their second-round playoff series. The Sharks beat Hartford, 4 games to 2, in Round 1 after dropping the first two games, and while Worcester was the 20th team in AHL history to do that — win a seven-game series after losing the first two games — here’s the problem. No team has ever done it twice in the same season.

Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Todd Reirden challenged his players to give more before Wednesday’s Game 3. The Penguins did just that by putting their bodies in front of shots, crashing the net and overcoming a short bench and a one-goal deficit in the third period to beat the Hershey Bears 3-2 in overtime. With the win – which came courtesy of Mark Letestu – the Penguins cut the Bears lead in the series to 2-1 and will play the next two games on home ice. “Now we feel like we have a chance,” Letestu said.

Jonathan Bombulie, Citizens’ Voice
Bitter rivals separated by just 100 miles of highway, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears have battled in the playoffs five times in the last 10 years. But now, for the first time, it looks they’re locked in an honest-to-goodness, competitive series. Mark Letestu scored less than five minutes into overtime to give the Penguins a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the East Division finals Wednesday night at the Wachovia Arena. The Bears lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Friday night at the Arena.

Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
Now it’s a series. Mark Letestu scored at 4:48 of overtime to give the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Hershey Bears last night at Wachovia Arena. Letestu’s goal came on a scramble in front of the net in which Hershey goalie Michal Neuvirth managed to stop one shot while on his back but lost sight of the puck. The goal ruined what had otherwise been a stellar night for Neuvirth, who faced 40 shots through the three periods of regulation before Letestu scored on the third Penguin shot of overtime. The two goals that were scored by the Penguins both deflected off Hershey players.

Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Two odd deflections, a late missed scoring chance and a big save. That was the formula for a 3-2 overtime victory by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Wednesday night in Game 3 that prevented the Hershey Bears from taking a 3-0 lead in the East Division finals. Mark Letestu‘s goal at 4:48 of OT delivered Hershey’s first loss of the 2008-09 playoffs. Letestu converted the rebound of a Nick Johnson backhander on Bears goalie Michal Neuvirth, who made 40 saves. “There was a shot from the point,” Neuvirth said. “Rebound. And I lost the puck.”

Pete Dougherty, Albany Times Union
Hockey is played throughout the world, but it can be a small world. Paul Holmgren is general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, for whom he played most of a nine-year NHL career and coached from 1988 to 1992. In the middle of his fourth season, after back-to-back playoff misses, Holmgren was fired and replaced by Bill Dineen, a name synonymous with the Adirondack Red Wings. Holmgren was back in Glens Falls on Wednesday to help celebrate the arrival of the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers’ new AHL affiliate. His memories of Glens Falls Civic Center go back to 1986 when the Hershey Bears lost to the Red Wings in the Calder Cup Finals.

Worcester Sharks forward Jamie McGinn steps into the AHL Chat Room to answer fans’ questions this afternoon… Visit theahl.com to submit questions for Jamie, and check back later to see his responses.

Kris Letang scored at 11:23 of overtime to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win over Washington on Wednesday, cutting the Penguins’ series deficit in their Eastern Conference semifinal to 2-1… In the other East semifinal, 2005 AHL All-Star Eric Staal netted a goal and Carolina went on to post a 3-2 overtime win over Boston to take a 2-1 series lead on the top-seeded Bruins.

2005 AHL All-Star Dustin Brown netted a goal and Ryan Suter tallied the game-winner as the United States edged Finland by a 3-2 count on Wednesday in the quarterfinal of the IIHF World Championships in Switzerland.

– Teams who have opened their 2009 postseason slates by winning three consecutive road games… Grand Rapids and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton each went 3-0 on the road during the division semifinals, and Providence recorded a 2-0 mark in the first round before capturing Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Finals at Worcester on Wednesday… Overall, road teams have posted a 27-28 record this postseason.

May 7, 2006Scottie Upshall records a goal and two assists in Milwaukee’s 7-4 win at Houston, giving the Admirals a 3-0 lead in their West Division final.

May 7, 2004 – Jeff Carter’s goal 15:20 into overtime gives Philadelphia a 3-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and evens their division final series at one game apiece.

May 7, 2002 – The Chicago Wolves become the first team in AHL history to prevail in three winner-take-all games in a single postseason, advancing to the Western Conference final with a 6-2 victory at Syracuse in Game 7.

May 7, 1975 – The Springfield Indians capture the Calder Cup with a 4-0 win over New Haven.

May 7, 1969 – The Hershey Bears win their fourth Cup with a 3-0 victory over visiting Quebec.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2009 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live continues to bring AHL action to your computer all postseason long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.