AHL Morning Skate: Ads go for two in a row on road

AHL Quick Hits is now the Morning Skate… Every morning, take 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.


Portland 3, HARTFORD 2 (2OT) (Series tied, 1-1)


1. Michal Birner netted a power play goal at 9:24 of the second overtime, lifting Portland to a 3-2 win at Hartford in Game 2 of their Atlantic Division Semifinal

2. Pirates goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin turned aside 33 of 35 shots to help Portland earn a split of the first two games in Hartford.

3. Dane Byers tallied a goal and added an assist in the loss for the Wolf Pack.


Game 2 – Albany at Philadelphia, 7:05 (ALB leads, 1-0)

Game 2 – Manchester at Providence, 7:05 (PRO leads, 1-0)

Game 1 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:30

Game 2 – San Antonio at Toronto, 7:30 (TOR leads, 1-0)

Game 2 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:30 (MIL leads, 1-0)

Game 1 – Houston at Rockford, 8:30

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Manchester Monarchs || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – PROVIDENCE 3, Manchester 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – Manchester at Providence, 7:05
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Providence at Manchester, 7:05
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 21 – Providence at Manchester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Manchester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Manchester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Providence at Manchester, 7:05

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Hartford Wolf Pack vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – HARTFORD 3, Portland 1
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 17 – Portland 3, HARTFORD 2 (2OT)

Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Hartford at Portland, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., Apr. 20 – Hartford at Portland, 6:05
Game 5 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Portland at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 6 – Thu., Apr. 24 – Hartford at Portland, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Portland at Hartford, 7:00

East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E4-Hershey Bears || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – W-B/Scranton 2, HERSHEY 1 (OT)
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 20 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 5:05
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 23 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 27 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 5:05

East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Philadelphia Phantoms vs. E3-Albany River Rats || Preview

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – ALBANY 4, Philadelphia 0
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – Albany at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 20 – Albany at Philadelphia, 5:05 (WC)
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Philadelphia at Albany, 7:00
*Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 24 – Philadelphia at Albany, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Albany at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 7 – TBA – Albany at Philadelphia (WC)


North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. W5-San Antonio Rampage || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – TORONTO 4, San Antonio 3
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – San Antonio at Toronto, 7:30
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 21 – Toronto at San Antonio, 8:00
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 23 – Toronto at San Antonio, 8:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Toronto at San Antonio, 8:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 27 – San Antonio at Toronto, 4:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – San Antonio at Toronto, 7:30

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Syracuse Crunch vs. N3-Manitoba Moose || Preview
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 18 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:30
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:30
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Syracuse at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Syracuse at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Syracuse at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 29 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:00

West Division Semifinal – Series “G” (best-of-7)
W1-Chicago Wolves vs. W4-Milwaukee Admirals || Preview

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – Milwaukee 4, CHICAGO 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:30
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 20 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 6:00
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 23 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 24 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:30
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00

West Division Semifinal – Series “H” (best-of-7)
W2-Rockford IceHogs vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 18 – Houston at Rockford, 8:30
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Houston at Rockford, 8:05
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Rockford at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 24 – Rockford at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Rockford at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 27 – Houston at Rockford, 5:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Houston at Rockford, 8:05


*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 2 –
Albany at Philadelphia, 7:05 (ALB leads, 1-0)

The scene shifts to the City of Brotherly Love on Friday as Philadelphia hosts Albany at the Wachovia Center in Game 2 of their East Division Semifinal… The River Rats took a 4-0 victory in Game 1 behind a 39-save shutout by “Baz” Bastien Award winner Michael Leighton… This marks the first time Albany has led a playoff series since 1998, when they went all the way to the conference finals before falling to the Phantoms… Bryan Rodney had a game-high three points (1-2-3) in the opener for the River Rats, while former Phantom Marc Cavosie and rookie Jerome Samson posted a goal and an assist apiece… The Phantoms have won 13 straight home playoff games since a loss on May 5, 2004, to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, a game also played at the Wachovia CenterPhiladelphia played their entire home postseason schedule in 2005 at the Center and went 11-0 en route to winning the Calder Cup.


Game 2 – Manchester at Providence, 7:05 (PRO leads, 1-0)

Manchester and Providence are back on the Dunkin’ Donuts Center ice tonight for Game 2 of their Atlantic Division Semifinal… The P-Bruins grabbed the early series lead with a 3-2 win on an overtime goal by Pascal Pelletier in Game 1 on Wednesday… Wacey Rabbit and Jeff Hoggan also netted goals for the Bruins, and rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask picked up the win with 25 saves in his professional playoff debut… The Monarchs’ power play, which ranked first in the AHL at 21.0 percent during the regular season, connected once on five tries, as Matt Moulson lit the lamp in the third period… 19-year-old Manchester goaltender Jonathan Bernier, also playing in his first professional postseason game, stopped 34 of 37 shots in the losing effort.


Game 1 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:30

Two of the AHL’s hottest teams down the stretch kick off their North Division Semifinal series tonight when Syracuse hosts Manitoba at the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter… The Crunch won 15 straight games to close the season and lost just once in regulation after Feb. 1, posting a 23-1-0-5 mark over that span… The Moose, meanwhile, closed the season on a 19-5-1-2 run of their own… Syracuse rookie Derick Brassard had points in 10 of his last 11 regular-season games (9-14-23), and Duvie Westcott closed the year on a five-game scoring streak (1-7-8)… The Crunch went 27-9-1-3 at the War Memorial this season… Former Crunch forward Brad Moran paced the Moose in the regular season with 77 points (22-55-77) in 74 games… Manitoba has advanced to at least the second round for three straight years.


Game 2 – San Antonio at Toronto, 7:30 (TOR leads, 1-0)

Still looking for its first-ever postseason victory, San Antonio returns to Ricoh Coliseum tonight for Game 2 of its North Division Semifinal series against Toronto, which took a 4-3 win in Game 1 on Wednesday… The Marlies coughed up a pair of leads in the opener but eventually prevailed on rookie Jiri Tlusty’s first career playoff goal with 6:31 remaining in regulation… Kris Newbury, John Mitchell and Alex Foster added markers for the Marlies, who captured their first home-ice playoff win in franchise history and second overall… The Rampage tallied all three of their goals on special teams, as David Spina and ex-Marlie Brendan Bell netted power-play markers and Matt Murley scored shorthanded.


Game 2 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:30 (MIL leads, 1-0)

Fresh off an overtime victory in Game 1, Milwaukee battles Chicago again tonight at Allstate Arena in Game 2 of their West Division Semifinal… Josh Langfeld, making his first Calder Cup Playoff appearance since 2005, tallied a hat trick and added an assist on the game-winner in Wednesday’s 4-3 triumph… Cal O’Reilly, who led the Admirals with 79 points (16-63-79) in the regular season, scored at 6:07 of overtime to end it… The victory snapped Milwaukee’s seven-game playoff losing skid, which included a four-game sweep at the hands of the Wolves last year and losses to Hershey in the final three games of the 2006 Calder Cup Finals… Rookie Bryan Little picked his first career playoff goal for Chicago, which has never lost the first two games of an opening-round series since joining the AHL in 2001-02.


Game 1 – Houston at Rockford, 8:30

Houston and Rockford become the last teams to kick off their Division Semifinal series tonight when they clash at the Rockford MetroCentre… The Aeros are back in the playoffs after a 64-point, last-place finish in 2006-07, while the inaugural IceHogs are making their Calder Cup Playoff debut… The two teams split their regular season series at three regulation wins apiece, with each club capturing two of three games on the road… Joel Ward (21-20-41) and Ryan Hamilton (20-19-39) paced the Houston offense in the regular season, and goaltender Nolan Schaefer posted the AHL’s best goals-against average at 2.06 (19-13-0)… Rockford’s Martin St. Pierre ranked second in the league with 88 regular-season points (21-67-88), his second consecutive top-three finish… Troy Brouwer tallied a team-high 35 goals, including 25 on the power play, two shy of an AHL record.



Len Ziehm, Chicago Sun-Times

The American Hockey League’s winningest goalies are going head-to-head in the Wolves’ first-round playoff series against Milwaukee. The Admirals’ Pekka Rinne, from , had 36 wins in the regular season, while the Wolves’ Ondrej Pavelec, from the , had 33 — second in franchise history behind Kari Lehtonen‘s 38 in 2004-05. Just two months past his 20th birthday, Pavelec went 3-3-0 with a 3.11 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in seven NHL games. “Getting called up was a great experience,” Pavelec said. “When they sent me down, I was a little up-and-down. I was a little nervous when I came back. I didn’t know what would happen.”




Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News

Touted Washington Capitals prospect Mathieu Perreault is listed at 5-8, 151 pounds. And the diminutive centerman’s large mop of hair might be what gets him above the 150 mark. But Perreault, who joined the Hershey Bears after completing his junior season with Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL), made a solid pro debut Wednesday night in the high-pressure playoff situation of Game 1 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Perreault said it was exciting, but that he is adjusting to AHL size, speed and systems. "Maybe a few games and I’ll get my game going," Perreault said Thursday. "For sure, first, I want to be solid defensively. I think I did it." Bears head coach Bob Woods displayed confidence in Perreault, who saw 4-on-4 and power-play time. The 20-year-old mainly played on a line with Steve Pinizzotto and Ryan Flinn.




Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle

No one will ever accuse this season’s version of the Aeros of being an easy win or a team that is fun to play. Almost to a man, anyone who played against the Aeros in 2007-08 used words like gritty, hard, defense and goaltending when asked to describe what they had seen on the ice. The Aeros will battle the Rockford IceHogs at the Rockford MetroCentre, a place where the Aeros used their gritty style to take two of three games during the regular season. "Playing (a mostly defensive) game doesn’t just come from having good defenseman," said forward Cal Clutterbuck, whose specialty is drawing penalties and getting under the skin of the opponent. "We have that, but we play an overall team game."




Paul Betit, Portland Press-Herald

Portland Pirates left wing Michal Birner got a rare chance to play on the power play, and he made the most of it Thursday night. Birner lifted a shot into the right side of the goal 9:24 into the second overtime as the Pirates evened their Calder Cup playoff series against the Hartford Wolf Pack with a 3-2 victory. Birner, a second-year pro from the who joined the Pirates after a trade in December, has been used primarily in a defensive role in recent weeks. "Between the two of us, we’ve had a feeling-out process, finding out where his specialty is," Portland coach Kevin Dineen said. "He’s played a lot of penalty kill in the last 10 games, and he’s thrived with that kind of responsibility. "(Playing on the power play) was kind of a little treat for him."




Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizen’s Voice

Paul Bissonnette liked Chris Minard before Wednesday night. Considered him a friend and a good tea