AHL Morning Skate: April 13, 2007

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.

No games scheduled

ALBANY 4, Binghamton 0
WORCESTER 6, Lowell 1
MANCHESTER 6, Springfield 4
W-B/SCRANTON 6, Bridgeport 0
Grand Rapids 4, HAMILTON 3 (SO)
Milwaukee 3, PEORIA 2 (SO)
Iowa 3, HOUSTON 1

1. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made 25 saves for his fourth shutout of the season to lead Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 6-0 win over Bridgeport.
2. Tyler Weiman’s 18-save shutout moved Albany closer to its first playoff berth in seven years with a 4-0 win over Binghamton.
3. Patrick Traverse recorded three assists and a plus-5 rating in Worcester’s 6-1 win over Lowell.

Binghamton at Albany, 7:00
Bridgeport at Hartford, 7:00
Providence at Worcester, 7:00
Portland at Lowell, 7:05
Norfolk at Philadelphia, 7:05
Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:30
Syracuse at Rochester, 7:35
Manchester at Springfield, 7:35
Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
Peoria at Omaha, 8:00
Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30
Iowa at Houston, 8:35

Click here for up-to-date AHL standings

1. Manchester has clinched first place
2. Hartford clinches second place with (a) a point vs. Bridgeport; or (b) a Worcester loss (regulation/OT/SO) vs. Providence
3. Worcester clinches a playoff berth with (a) a point vs. Providence; or (b) a Lowell loss (regulation/OT/SO) vs. Portland
4. Providence clinches a playoff berth with (a) a win at Worcester and a Lowell loss (regulation/OT/SO) vs. Portland; or (b) an OT/SO loss at Worcester and a Lowell regulation loss vs. Portland

1. Hershey clinches first place with a win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
2. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton clinches at least second place with (a) a win vs. Hershey; or (b) a Norfolk regulation loss at Philadelphia; or (c) an OT/SO loss vs. Hershey and a Norfolk loss (regulation/OT/SO) at Philadelphia
3. Albany clinches a playoff berth with (a) a win vs. Binghamton and a Bridgeport loss (regulation/OT/SO) at Hartford; or (b) an OT/SO loss vs. Binghamton and a Bridgeport regulation loss at Hartford

1. Manitoba has clinched first place
2. Rochester will play Hamilton in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs… Home-ice advantage will not be determined before Saturday
3. Grand Rapids clinches a playoff berth with (a) a win at Hamilton and a Peoria loss (regulation/OT/SO) at Omaha; or (b) an OT/SO loss at Hamilton and a Peoria regulation loss at Omaha

1. Omaha clinches first place with (a) a win vs. Peoria and a Chicago loss (regulation/OT/SO) at Milwaukee; or (b) an OT/SO loss vs. Peoria and a Chicago regulation loss at Milwaukee
2. Milwaukee has clinched third place
3. Iowa clinches a playoff berth with (a) a point at Houston; or (b) a Peoria loss (regulation/OT/SO) at Omaha

GAME NOTES (all times ET)
Binghamton at Albany, 7:00
The River Rats are looking to clinch their first playoff berth since 2000… A Binghamton AHL team will miss the Calder Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the Whalers in 1989-90… Albany has won five of seven meetings between the teams, including Wednesday’s 4-0 shutout… River Rats captain Keith Aucoin has 98 points, tying John Madden’s single-season franchise record set in 1998-99… Albany has won seven of its last nine home games; the Senators have lost 15 of 16 on the road (1-14-1-0).

Bridgeport at Hartford, 7:00
Exactly six months ago, on Oct. 13, 2006, Bridgeport scored five times in the third period for a 6-3 win at Hartford; the Wolf Pack have won all eight meetings since then… Hartford is 15-4-0-0 against its in-state rivals over the last two seasons, and 21-6-2-0 since the start of 2004-05… Nigel Dawes has 21 points (12g, 9a) in 16 career games vs. the Sound Tigers… Bridgeport is winless in its last five road games (0-4-0-1).

Providence at Worcester, 7:00
The Bruins and Sharks are both looking to lock up playoff berths entering the final weekend of the regular season… Providence is 0-3-1-1 in its last five road games; Worcester has won 10 of 11 overall… T.J. Trevelyan has scored goals in five straight games for the Bruins (6g)… Thomas Greiss has tied a Worcester pro hockey record by appearing in 21 straight games in net for the Sharks (15-4-2)… Two of those four losses were at the hands of the Bruins… The Sharks have scored 27 goals in their last five games.

Portland at Lowell, 7:05
Lowell tries to keep its postseason hopes alive with a home-and-home series against Portland, which will miss the playoffs after reaching Game 7 of the conference finals in 2006… Lowell defenseman Dan McGillis is tied for the AHL lead with three overtime goals this season… Chris Minard scored his 30th goal of the year for the Devils on Wednesday… The Pirates have started six different goaltenders in eight games against the Devils this season (Sebastien Caron, Gerald Coleman, Dov Grumet-Morris, Michael Leighton, David McKee, Mike Wall).

Norfolk at Philadelphia, 7:05
Norfolk closes out the 2006-07 regular season with three road games in three cities over 45 hours… The Admirals’ current four-game winless streak (0-3-0-1) is their longest since being swept by Hershey in the first round of the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs… Pierre Parenteau had a 14-game scoring streak snapped in Norfolk’s 6-1 loss at Hershey last Saturday… Martin St. Pierre has 17 points (3g, 14a) in eight games vs. Philadelphia this season… The Admirals have won eight straight meetings with the Phantoms since Philly’s 5-4 overtime win on opening night, Oct. 6.

Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
The top two teams in the AHL square off for the 10th and final time this regular season… The Bears and Penguins enter the night with a combined 100 wins and 218 points on the year… A win gives Hershey its first division title since 1994… Bears center Alexandre Giroux ranks second in the AHL with 41 goals, the fifth year in a row he has increased his production… The Penguins can wrap up home-ice advantage in the first round with a victory… First Team AHL All-Star defenseman Micki DuPont is riding a six-game scoring streak (2g, 5a).

Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:30
This is the second of three consecutive meetings between the Griffins and Bulldogs… Hamilton is 5-1-0-2 against Grand Rapids this season, including 3-0-0-1 at Copps Coliseum… Southern Ontario natives Evan McGrath (Oakville) and Matt Ellis (Welland) scored late in the third period of the Griffins’ 4-3 shootout win on Wednesday… Grand Rapids needs to win its last three games to secure its sixth consecutive 40-win season since joining the AHL… Former Griffin Eric Manlow, scoreless over the first 5½ months of the season, has scored four goals in his last nine games for Hamilton.

Syracuse at Rochester, 7:35
It’s the 11th meeting of the season and the 147th regular-season meeting all-time between these Empire State rivals… Syracuse is going to miss the postseason, but owns a 6-2-0-2 record against Rochester in 2006-07, including a 5-0 win last Saturday… Dan LaCosta has stopped 57 of 58 shots and has posted two shutouts in three appearances against the Amerks this season (2-0-0, 0.48, .983)… Crunch defenseman Filip Novak leads all scorers in the season series with 10 points (2g, 8a)… Kamil Kreps has points in five straight games for Rochester (4g, 6a).

Manchester at Springfield, 7:35
Manchester brings a six-game winning streak into Springfield, looking for its 50th win of the season… The Monarchs have won eight of nine from the Falcons this season, including Wednesday’s 6-4 decision… Tim Jackman scored twice in that win for Manchester, as did Jeff Likens, a defenseman who completed his senior season at the University of Wisconsin last month… Monarchs forward Petr Kanko has three goals and two assists in his last three games after going the previous 11 contests without a point… Springfield’s Eric Healey has 75 points on the year, surpassing the career high of 73 he set with Manchester in 2002-03.

Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
Chicago can tie an AHL record for road wins in a season if it can pick up number 27 tonight in Milwaukee… The Wolves are 3-1-0-0 at the Bradley Center this season, including a 5-4 victory last Friday… Rookie Cal O’Reilly has put up a team-best 12 points (4g, 8a) in nine meetings against Chicago this year… Seven of Brandon Segal’s 20 goals this season have come against the Wolves… Chicago rookie Brett Sterling continues to lead the AHL with 52 goals, but has scored just twice in his last nine outings.

Peoria at Omaha, 8:00
Peoria’s playoff hopes are flickering heading into a home-and-home set with Omaha… The Rivermen are 7-0-0-1 against the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights this season; all-time, they are 15-2-0-1 vs. Omaha and have never lost in nine visits to the Civic Auditorium… Trent Whitfield and Jon DiSalvatore have 14 points apiece in eight games against the Knights in 2006-07… Curtis McElhinney is 1-5-0 vs. the Rivermen, 32-12-1 against the rest of the AHL this year… Justin Taylor scored the winning goal in the Knights’ 3-1 win over San Antonio on Tuesday, his first goal since Feb. 8.

Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30 (Rogers Sportsnet)
The North Division champion Moose gear up for the Calder Cup Playoffs with a two-game set against Toronto to close out the regular season… Manitoba has 44 wins and 100 points, same as their final totals from 2005-06… The Moose have won 11 of their last 13 at the MTS Centre, including a two-game sweep of the Marlies on Mar. 2-3… Manitoba has won all six meetings this season and is 12-0-1-1 against Toronto over the last two years… Jason Jaffray, Lee Goren and Brad Moran have combined for 28 points and a plus-28 rating against the Marlies in 2006-07.

Iowa at Houston, 8:35
Iowa heads to the Toyota Center needing a single point to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight spring… The Stars are 4-0-0-0 in Houston this season, including Wednesday’s 3-1 victory… Junior Lessard had a goal and two assists on Wednesday for his third three-point night of the season and first since Oct. 21… Joel Ward scored the Aeros’ only goal on a shorthanded penalty shot… Iowa has won four straight and 12 of its last 15 on the road… Houston has allowed 37 goals in its last six home games.


Jessica Hopp, The Tennessean

You’ve heard the phrase buy the farm. The Predators have a little different take: buy into the farm. As Nashville’s NHL team prepared for its third consecutive playoff appearance, it pointed to an often overlooked source of its success — the Milwaukee Admirals. "I have been a big proponent that your minor league team has to have a winning culture," Predators Coach Barry Trotz said. "Then the guys who come up, they don’t expect anything different."

The Milwaukee Admirals are headed to the Calder Cup Playoffs for the fourth straight season under head coach Claude Noel. They won the Calder Cup in 2004, and returned to the Finals in 2006.

Scott J. Powers, Daily Herald

Nathan Oystrick joined the Chicago Wolves last season just as they were fighting for their playoff life. The Wolves weren’t about to risk playing a defenseman fresh from college with so much at stake. Oystrick practiced with the team but had to sit out the games. Oystrick’s taste of pro hockey was momentary, but he had seen enough to know he could compete. That feeling carried over to this season. If it wasn’t for teammate and roommate Brett Sterling’s campaign, Oystrick could be the front-runner for the AHL’s rookie of the year.

Nathan Oystrick played in the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto, and last week was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team.

Steve Zipay, Newsday

When the Rangers opened the season in early October, Darius Kasparaitis, Sandis Ozolinsh and free agent Aaron Ward were part of an aging defense. Several forwards were on the plus side of 30, including Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Brendan Shanahan. But on the eve of the Stanley Cup playoffs, younger blood has freshened the dressing room. The Rangers looked north to Hartford and their improving farm system to replace players with injuries.

After scoring 35 goals for Hartford this season, first-year pro Ryan Callahan chipped in four goals and two assists in 14 NHL games for the Rangers. Daniel Girardi, an AHL All-Rookie selection in 2005-06, was a plus-7 in 34 games for the Blueshirts.

Paul Vigna, philly.com

It’s a promotional idea, says Phantoms publicist Brian Smith, that found its roots in one of those late-day flashes of brilliance. "The ‘shirts off their back’ is a tradition now here with us and we’ve always tried to add to it," said Smith, the assistant director of public relations. "With this thing, we were putting it together, and one of the guys in our marketing department, the phrase jumped into his head, giving away everything but the kitchen sink, and he said, ‘Why don’t we go find a kitchen sink?’ And that’s what we did."

One fan will win a double-bowl stainless steel sink, autographed by the entire Philadelphia Phantoms team, at Sunday’s Fan Appreciation Night vs. Hershey.

Michael Sharp, Press & Sun-Bulletin

As bad as things have gone for the Binghamton Senators — and entering tonight’s penultimate game in Albany, they’ve already clinched last place in the American Hockey League — this city has seen a worse pro hockey team. The 1989-90 Binghamton Whalers, they of the 11 total wins, continue to live on in the record books for all the wrong reasons. But in their story, there’s also reason to at least hope for better days as the B-Sens get set to enter another long offseason.

The 11-60-9 Binghamton Whalers of 1989-90 included such future NHL’ers as Michel Picard, James Black, Terry Yake, Jim McKenzie, Daryl Reaugh and Kay Whitmore.

Will Beekman, theahl.com

Ken Frantz grew up around Wilkes-Barre, and he still resides in the area today. In between now and then, he has had a few detours – the odd job here and there, some time spent in Germany during World War II – but wherever he has gone, his artistic abilities have gone with him. Presently, those talents are focused on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Penguins have recruited Ken Frantz for a special project, to be unveiled at Wilkes-Barre’s regular-season home finale vs. Syracuse on Sunday evening.

In his first postseason action since the 2000 Calder Cup Playoffs with Lowell, Roberto Luongo made 72 saves in Vancouver’s 5-4 quadruple-overtime win over Dallas on Wednesday night.

Valtteri Filppula, who had 16 points in 16 Calder Cup Playoff games during Grand Rapids’ run to the conference finals last year, scored in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut for Detroit on Thursday.

Brian Campbell, who helped Rochester to the Calder Cup Finals in 1999 and 2000, scored his first two career postseason goals in Buffalo’s 4-1 win over the N.Y. Islanders on Thursday.

8,671 – Average attendance for the Hershey Bears (346,842 total), who completed their 40-game home schedule last weekend… The Bears will finish first in the AHL in attendance for the first time since the 1976-77 season, when they averaged 4,663 fans per game at Hersheypark Arena.

B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer, web-enabled cell phone or PDA all season long with live video webcasts of nearly every AHL game… Visit theahl.com for details.