AHL Morning Skate: Aeros trying again to advance


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.

HERSHEY 3, W-B/Scranton 0 (Series tied, 3-3)

1. Michal Neuvirth posted a 30-save shutout as Hershey forced Game 7 with a 3-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton yesterday evening.

2. Darren Reid tallied his second goal in as many games for the Bears, who are 5-0 at home this postseason.

3. Hershey’s Andrew Gordon netted the game-winning goal in the first period.

Game 5 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05 (Series tied, 2-2)
Game 6 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00 (HOU leads series, 3-2)

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 5, PROVIDENCE 3
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – WORCESTER 1, Providence 0
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 – W-B/SCRANTON 6, Hershey 3
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, Hershey 1
Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – HERSHEY 3, W-B/Scranton 0
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 – HOUSTON 2, Milwaukee 0
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee 4, HOUSTON 3
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 5 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05 (Series tied, 2-2)
Worcester and Providence tangle for the critical Game 5 of the Atlantic Division Finals tonight at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center… The Sharks have erased their second consecutive 0-2 series deficit to pull even with the Bruins… Worcester is coming off a 1-0 triumph in Game 4 on Saturday, as goaltender Thomas Greiss made 26 saves for his second shutout of the postseason… Greiss, who did not post a shutout in his first 143 AHL regular-season and playoff appearances, now has three in his last 11 games… Sharks forward Tom Cavanagh scored the game’s lone goal on Saturday, his first of the series and third of the playoffs… Patrick Traverse and Riley Armstrong earned assists on the goal; Traverse is tied for the AHL defensemen scoring lead with seven points (3-4-7) in 10 games, and Armstrong is pacing the Sharks with 11 points (2-9-11) in the playoffs… Worcester is now 6-4 in the playoffs, and six different players have notched game-winning goals… Rookie Brad Marchand (2-3-5) and Martin St. Pierre (2-3-5) continue to lead Providence with five points in the series, and St. Pierre has a team-high 10 points (3-7-10) overall in nine games… Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (6-3, 1.65, .944) stopped 26 of 27 shots in Game 4 but has suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since Mar. 1-4… In this series, Providence’s power play is 3-for-7 (42.9%) at home and 1-for-8 (12.5%) on the road… The Bruins have now been shut out 10 times this season (eight regular season, two playoffs), and are 7-2-0-0 in the game immediately following… In series tied 2-2, Providence has lost Game 5 on five of seven occasions.

Game 6 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00 (HOU leads series, 3-2)
Houston travels to Milwaukee tonight for its second shot at eliminating the first-place Admirals and advancing to a Western Conference Finals date with Manitoba… Milwaukee prolonged the series and reclaimed home-ice advantage on Saturday by holding on for a 4-3 victory at Houston… Admirals forward Bryan Smolinski tallied two goals and an assist for his first three career AHL points, and Kelsey Wilson’s first goal of the playoffs was the eventual game-winner as Milwaukee brought a 4-1 lead into the third period and held off Houston’s late rally attempt… Drew MacIntyre (6-3) made 27 saves and leads all AHL goaltenders with a 1.57 postseason goals-against average… Saturday marked Milwaukee’s first victory this postseason in a game in which it surrendered the first goal… The Aeros’ power play converted all three opportunities in Game 5, as Corey Locke scored twice and Robbie Earl once… Locke leads the league with seven goals and has registered 11 of his league-leading 13 points on a Houston power play that ranks second in the AHL at 29.6 percent in the playoffs… Locke (3-1-4) and Krys Kolanos (3-1-4) each shows a team-high three goals in the series, and ex-Admiral Tony Hrkac has chipped in four assists… Houston has scored 16 of its 31 playoff goals in the third period, outscoring opponents 16-9 during the frame… Milwaukee is 5-5 in the AHL in potential elimination games, including 4-5 at Bradley Center; Saturday’s contest was the first time the Admirals had ever faced Calder Cup Playoff elimination on the road… The Aeros are taking a 3-2 AHL series lead on the road for the fourth time in their history; they finished off Grand Rapids (2003), Hamilton (2003) and Peoria (2009), losing Game 6 but winning Game 7 each time.


Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
The last place the Aeros wanted to be Sunday was on another airplane. But after swinging and missing on their first chance to close out the Milwaukee Admirals in Game 5 on Saturday night at Toyota Center, that is where they were: on a return trip to Wisconsin. Two third-period goals were not enough for the Aeros, who can advance to play the Manitoba Moose in the Western Conference finals if they win tonight at Bradley Center. “I don’t think we were looking ahead as a team, it was just another game,” said Aeros coach Kevin Constantine after Saturday’s loss.

Andrew Wagner, OnMilwaukee.com
The Admirals know what they’re up against. Down three games to two in their best-of-seven playoff series with the Houston Aeros, they know their backs are up against the wall. But with the sixth – and hopefully, a seventh – game back at the Bradley Center, head coach Lane Lambert hopes the momentum from Saturday night’s victory can carry over to Monday night. “The slate is clean and we have to come and gain momentum as the game progresses,” Lambert says. “That’s the only way you can look at it. They’re ahead in the series and we’re fighting from behind.”

Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot News
On a must-win Mother’s Day, the Hershey Bears again enjoyed home, sweet home at Giant Center. Looking like the club that won the first two games of the East Division finals, Hershey blanked the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-0 Sunday night in Game 6 to stave off elimination. The Bears, who had lost three in a row, tied the series 3-3 to force a deciding Game 7 Tuesday at Giant Center. “It’s down to one game for somebody’s life here,” Bears winger Andrew Gordon said. “There’s nothing more to say. Get it done.”

Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
After he made his second start in two days in Saturday night’s Game 5, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltender Adam Berkhoel needed a few IV’s to overcome the fatigue. And after Hershey Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth made his third start in three days on Sunday in Game 6, he was so tired after the game he didn’t even want to talk. If Neuvirth felt a little better, chances are he would have plenty to say about his 30-save effort en route to shutting out the Penguins 3-0 to force a decisive Game 7 on Tuesday. Since the Penguins entered the league in 1999, they have been shut out five times in the playoffs and four of those instances occurred via Hershey.

Jonathan Bombulie, Citizens’ Voice
As time ticked on in Game 6 of the East Division finals Sunday night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were just waiting for one. Waiting for that one puck to slip by Hershey Bears goalie Michal Neuvirth. The one goal that would give a shot of adrenaline to a team with tired legs. It never came. Neuvirth made 30 saves and the Bears blanked the lethargic Penguins 3-0 to set up a winner-take-all Game 7 at the Giant Center on Tuesday night.

Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press
The Manitoba Moose have been down this road before, but there’s a difference this time. This time they arrive in the AHL’s final four with confidence and not a ‘just glad to be here’ attitude. Not to take anything away from the two teams Randy Carlyle steered to the Western Conference finals, but those clubs were tattered, torn and decided underdogs when they reached this step in their post-season journeys. The current Moose are a different matter altogether in that they’ve gotten here in fairly smooth fashion and are the favorites in the Calder Cup sweepstakes. Whether it’s the Houston Aeros or Milwaukee Admirals that take to the MTS Centre ice on Friday night, they’ll know they’re in tough with these Moose.

Rob Rossi and Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“As nervous as he’s ever been before a game,” Penguins rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski could have used a story of experience from assistant coach Tom Fitzgerald before Game 5 of a second-round series against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Goligoski was promoted that morning from the AHL and inserted into the Penguins’ lineup to help make up for the absence of Sergei Gonchar. Goligoski had never played in a Stanley Cup playoff game. “The way it was played helped,” he said afterward. “I didn’t have time to think about anything because everybody and everything was going so fast.”

David Goricki, Detroit News
Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader could be Red Wings’ stars of the future. They certainly played big roles in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena. Helm, 22, played a strong defensive game while centering the third line of Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary. He made big hits throughout and scored a goal, knocking in a loose puck from in front of the Ducks’ net with 3:08 remaining to open a two-goal lead. Abdelkader made the most of his limited playing time in his NHL playoff debut. He had a team-leading nine hits in 10 shifts, and also assisted on the Wings’ first goal.

2008-09 AHL All-Rookie forward Justin Abdelkader picked up an assist in his NHL playoff debut, and Darren Helm and two-time AHL All-Star Jiri Hudler tallied goals to help Detroit to a 4-1 win over Anaheim yesterday and a 3-2 series lead in their Western Conference semifinal… 1998 AHL All-Stars Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara each posted two assists and Tim Thomas made 19 saves for his first career Stanley Cup Playoff shutout as Boston staved off elimination with a 4-0 win over Carolina in Game 5.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves and Oleg Saprykin tallied the game-winning goal as Russia captured gold at the IIHF World Championships with a 2-1 victory over Canada in Switzerland on Sunday… Two-time AHL All-Star Jason Spezza notched Canada’s lone goal… Loui Eriksson posted a goal and an assist to help Sweden to a 3-1 win over the United States in the bronze-medal game.

5 – Career AHL victories, in 22 regular-season appearances, for Houston goaltender Anton Khudobin entering the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs… The 23-year-old rookie is 7-5 this postseason to put the Aeros one victory away from the Western Conference Finals.

May 11, 2007Tomas Fleischmann records five points (1g, 4a) and Alexandre Giroux scores his second overtime goal of the series as Hershey advances to the conference finals with a 7-6 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

May 11, 2003 – Raffi Torres, Michael Ryder and Jarret Stoll score and Francois Beauchemin records an assist to lead Hamilton to a 3-2 win over Manitoba in Game 7 of their North Division finals at Copps Coliseum.

May 11, 1997Jean-Francois Labbe makes a franchise-record 62 saves and Blair Atcheynum scores 42 seconds into the third overtime period as Hershey staves off elimination with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia in Game 6 of their division final series.

May 11, 1993 – Despite being outshot 63-37, the Springfield Indians (25-41-14 in the regular season) get a three points from Michael Nylander and the winning goal from Paul Cyr to take the Northern Division finals with a 6-5 overtime victory in Game 7 at Adirondack.

May 11, 1979 – The Maine Mariners win their second consecutive Calder Cup, wrapping up a four-game sweep with an 8-4 win over New Haven.

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.