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AHL Morning Skate: April 15

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.


THURSDAY’S SCORES:
Game 1 – PORTLAND 3, Connecticut 2 (POR leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – Charlotte 5, HERSHEY 4 (CHA leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – MANCHESTER 2, Binghamton 1 (MCH leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – HAMILTON 5, Oklahoma City 2 (HAM leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – MILWAUKEE 5, Texas 2 (MIL leads series, 1-0)


THURSDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Rookie forward Gabriel Bourque scored twice and added three assists as Milwaukee opened its West Division semifinal with a 5-2 win over Texas.

2. 2011 AHL All-Rookie forward Zac Dalpe registered a goal and two helpers in Charlotte’s 5-4 series-opening victory at Hershey.

3. Manchester goaltender Jeff Zatkoff backstopped the Monarchs to a 2-1 win over Binghamton with 34 saves on 35 shots in net.


TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 2 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00 (MCH leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 2 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35 (HOU leads series, 1-0)


2011 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Portland Pirates vs. A3-Connecticut Whale || Series Preview

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – PORTLAND 3, Connecticut 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Connecticut at Portland, 7:00
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Portland at Connecticut, 6:00
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Portland at Connecticut, 7:00
*Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 21 – Connecticut at Portland, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Portland at Connecticut, 7:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Connecticut at Portland, 7:00

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Manchester Monarchs vs. E5-Binghamton Senators || Series Preview

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – MANCHESTER 2, Binghamton 1
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Manchester at Binghamton, 5:05
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Manchester at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Manchester at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00

East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E4-Norfolk Admirals || Series Preview

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:30
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Hershey Bears vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers || Series Preview

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – Charlotte 5, HERSHEY 4
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Charlotte at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Charlotte at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Charlotte at Hershey, 7:00

North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. W5-Oklahoma City Barons || Series Preview

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – HAMILTON 5, Oklahoma City 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 4:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 4:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 7:30

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Lake Erie Monsters vs. N3-Manitoba Moose || Series Preview

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 12:00
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 3:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Lake Erie at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 21 – Lake Erie at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Lake Erie at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 4:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 26 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 7:00

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

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – MILWAUKEE 5, Texas 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
*Game 6 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 26 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00

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

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 13 – HOUSTON 4, Peoria 1
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 18 – Houston at Peoria, 8:05
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Houston at Peoria, 8:05
*Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Houston at Peoria, 8:05
*Game 6 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Peoria at Houston, 5:05

*if necessary… All times Eastern


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 2 – Binghamton at Manchester (MCH leads series, 1-0), 7:00
After Manchester emerged with a 2-1 win over Binghamton on Thursday in Game 1 of their Atlantic Division semifinal, the teams get right back on the Verizon Wireless Center ice for Game 2 tonight… Corey Elkins and David Kolomatis notched the Monarchs’ goals in the Game 1 victory, with Kolomatis’s power play marker at 16:25 of the third period proving to be the game-winner… For Kolomatis, it marked his first goal in 32 career AHL postseason contests over the past three years with Manchester and Providence… Justin Azevedo, who had a career-high 53 points (18-35-53) in the regular season, and Second Team AHL All-Star Viatcheslav Voynov picked up assists on the game-winner… Manchester goaltender Jeff Zatkoff surrendered nine goals in his final two regular-season appearances, but the 23-year-old came up big on Thursday with a 34-save performance in his AHL postseason debut… The Monarchs finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage and held Binghamton’s power play – which ranked first in the AHL during the regular season (22.8 percent) – to an 0-for-6 showing… Ryan Potulny finally put the Senators on the board with 39 seconds left in regulation, spoiling Zatkoff’s shutout bid… It marked Potulny’s fourth career Calder Cup Playoff goal, which includes the fifth-overtime game-winner vs. Albany while a member of the Philadelphia Phantoms on Apr. 24, 2008… Binghamton has now dropped five consecutive postseason contests, dating back to their last playoff appearance in 2005… Manchester captured Game 1 for just the fourth time in 13 playoff series all-time; the Monarchs went on to win the series on two of the previous three occasions.

Game 1 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Coming off the most successful regular-season performance in team history, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins kick off the quest for their first-ever Calder Cup tonight by hosting Norfolk in Game 1 of the East Division semifinals… The Penguins won their first nine games, 21 of their first 25 (21-4-0-0), and never looked back en route to a league-best 58-21-0-1 (117 points) mark overall, establishing franchise records for wins and points… During the regular season, Wilkes-Barre boasted the AHL’s top-ranked defense – surrendering just 2.29 goals per game – and its fourth-best offense (3.26 goals scored per contest)… Baz Bastien Award winner Brad Thiessen anchored the Pens’ stingy defensive effort, putting up a remarkable 35-8-1 record in 46 appearances while leading the AHL in wins (35) and ranking second in both goals-against average (1.94) and shutouts (7-tied)… Thiessen’s 35 victories either matched or topped the regular-season total of six entire AHL teams… Two-time AHL All-Star and former Calder Cup champion Brett Sterling paced the squad in goals (27) and points (53) in his first year in a Penguins uniform, and team captain Ryan Craig established a career high with 48 points (19-29-48) in 71 outings… Twelve Penguins skaters reached double-digits in goals this season, while Norfolk featured five 20-goal scorers in Marc-Antoine Pouliot (25-47-72), Blair Jones (24-31-55), Johan Harju (23-30-53), Paul Szczechura (21-30-51), and Mike Angelidis (20-18-38)… The Admirals, in the playoffs for the first time in their four-year NHL affiliation with Tampa Bay, featured the AHL’s third-best offense overall (3.31 goals per game)… Norfolk earned three straight wins to begin its season series with Wilkes-Barre, but went 0-3-0-2 the rest of the way… Defenseman Troy Milam buried five goals (5-2-7) in eight games against the Penguins and 11 goals (11-19-30) in 59 contests against the rest of the AHL.

Game 2 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35 (HOU leads series, 1-0)
Houston goes for a 2-0 series lead over Peoria tonight when the teams collide at the Toyota Center for Game 2 of their West Division semifinal… The Aeros earned a 4-1 win in Wednesday’s series opener, coming back from an early 1-0 deficit to register four unanswered goals… Jed Ortmeyer potted a goal and an assist for Houston, and Warren Peters, Robbie Earl, and Patrick O’Sullivan also found the back of the net… Peters, who reached the 2010 Calder Cup Finals as a member of Texas, pulled the Aeros even 7:46 into the first period after Adam Cracknell had staked Peoria to a 1-0 advantage with an unassisted tally at the 1:16 mark… O’Sullivan, the AHL’s rookie of the year in 2005-06 who racked up 48 points (19-29-48) in just 36 AHL contests this season, scored in his first postseason game since helping Manchester to the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals… Houston held a 31-18 shots advantage for the night, and after allowing the early goal to Cracknell, Aeros rookie goaltender Matt Hackett shut the door and made 17 saves in the winning effort… The Aeros scored once on eight power play opportunities – the goal coming off of Earl’s stick – while Peoria turned in an 0-for-3 performance… Rivermen first-year goaltender Jake Allen, a former second-round draft pick, made 27 saves in the losing effort… Since joining the AHL in 2001, Houston owns an 8-1 series record when capturing Game 1; the lone loss came in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, when the Aeros took a 6-4 win over Chicago and went on to lose the next four.


MORNING HEADLINES:
CERTAINLY A GOOD WAY TO START FOR PIRATES – Portland Press Herald

The Portland Pirates scored all of their goals during a brief segment of the first period and held on for a 3-2 victory against the Connecticut Whale in the first game of their AHL playoff series Thursday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. It was the Pirates’ first playoff win in nearly two years.
http://bit.ly/fJKDjd

WINNING WHILE HE’S LEARNING – Portland Press Herald
Dave Leggio was cruising. The Portland Pirates were cruising Thursday night. Up 3-0 and the first period wasn’t even done. In the Pirates’ net, Leggio told himself not to relax in this, his first AHL playoff game. Never mind that he had a three-goal cushion. Or that this was his chance to again step out of the shadow cast by Jhonas Enroth, the Pirates’ No. 1 goalie before he was called up to Buffalo in early March.
http://bit.ly/g2ehDc

MONARCHS WIN PLAYOFF OPENER, 2-1 – Union Leader
The Manchester Monarchs took a 1-0 lead in their first round AHL playoff series with Binghamton with a 2-1 win over the Senators Thursday night. Manchester killed six Binghamton power plays, including a five-on-three in the first period and goalie Jeff Zatkoff stopped 34 of 35 shots. “It was typical playoff hockey. A bounce here, a bounce there,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “I don’t know if we want to change too much (for game 2).”
http://bit.ly/gnLEhJ

B-SENS’ OFFENSE STALLS IN OPENER – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The Binghamton Senators’ long-awaited return to the Calder Cup playoffs did not start off the way they had hoped, as the Manchester Monarchs claimed a 2-1 victory in the first game of their first-round series Thursday night at Verizon Wireless Arena. Ryan Potulny got the B-Sens on the board during an extra-attacker sequence with 38.4 seconds left in regulation, but early struggles proved too much to overcome.
http://bit.ly/fQ1S1y

SPEEDY CHECKERS RALLY FOR GAME 1 WIN – Harrisburg Patriot-News
Speed to burn has been a hallmark of the prolific Charlotte Checkers in 2010-11. They used it to singe the Hershey Bears with a third-period comeback Thursday night at Giant Center that delivered a 5-4 victory in Game 1 of the East Division semifinals.
http://bit.ly/gjd1oA

CHECKERS EDGE BEARS, 5-4, IN SERIES OPENER – Intelligencer Journal
It was nothing short of highway robbery when Hershey Bears goalie Braden Holtby went post to post to rob Charlotte’s Drayson Bowman in the final seconds of the first period. In microcosm, this was one of the pre-series predictions come true. Holtby, grabbing the mantel from Michal Neuvirth, would make these kinds of saves as the playoffs progressed to lead Hershey to a third straight Calder Cup. The Bears found out, though, that it’s going to take more than a star goalie to win another Cup.
http://bit.ly/e0Ayxa

CHECKERS JUMP PAST BEARS – Lebanon Daily News
During the regular season, Hershey lost eight games when allowing five or more goals in a game. Three of those losses came at the hands of the Bears’ East Division semifinal opponent, Charlotte. On Thursday at Giant Center, the Checkers did it again, beating Hershey, 5-4, to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
http://bit.ly/hqzRfc

BULLDOGS WIN PLAYOFF OPENER – Hamilton Spectator
If history is any barometer the Hamilton Bulldogs are in great shape to win their first round in the Calder Cup playoffs. The Dogs beat the Oklahoma City Barons 5-2 Thursday night at Copps Coliseum in the first game of the best-of-seven AHL North Division semi-final. In their 15 years in the league the Dogs have never lost a Calder Cup opening round playoff series after winning the first game. They are 8-0.
http://bit.ly/hD5XA7

BOURQUE, MUELLER LEAD WAY FOR ADMIRALS IN SERIES OPENER – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gabriel Bourque tied a franchise playoff record with five points Thursday in the Milwaukee Admirals’ 5-2 victory over visiting Texas. Not bad for a rookie in his first postseason game. “I didn’t expect this,” said Bourque, who finished third on the team with 18 goals. “I think we came ready. Some nights like this, everything goes in. I’m pretty happy.”
http://bit.ly/gw8ahE

RIVERMEN EVEN MORE HOBBLED HEADING INTO GAME 2 – Peoria Journal Star
Dean Arsene is 9-1 in AHL playoff series in his career. So when the veteran captain gathered the Peoria Rivermen for an on-ice chat Thursday after the team’s off-day skate at Toyota Center, he hoped they got the message. “They embarrassed us in Game 1,” Arsene said in reference to Peoria’s 4-1 loss to the Houston Aeros in the West Division Semifinals opener Wednesday.
http://bit.ly/fbtMzo

AEROS AWARE OF BIG PICTURE – Houston Chronicle
Mike Yeo’s first regular season as head coach of the Aeros couldn’t have gone better. He inherited a team with leaders when the Minnesota Wild gave him young talent to score goals, and the team got better as the year progressed. Even with confidence and high hopes, the team recognizes the importance of looking at the big picture. There is still a long way to go, and the Aeros need 11 more wins to reach the finals.
http://bit.ly/hFPfID

PENGUINS FIND THEMSELVES IN ROLE AS FAVORITE TO CAPTURE CALDER CUP – Citizens’ Voice
Since he joined the team in 2006, there isn’t much winger Tim Wallace hasn’t seen in a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins uniform. In fact, if you lump regular-season and playoff games together, only one player, Tom Kostopoulos, has worn a Penguins crest on his chest more times than Wallace has. But as the Penguins prepare to face the Norfolk Admirals in an East Division semifinals series that begins tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Wallace finds himself wearing a label he’s never worn before.
http://bit.ly/h9JLOt

GETTING UNDER THEIR SKIN AND OVER THE TOP – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
They’re the players behind the scenes that can win a playoff series for their team without putting a puck in the net. Those who are on top of their games when they get their opponents off of theirs. Agitators. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have plenty of them, and the agitating approach is one that could be pivotal against the rival Norfolk Admirals as the two teams open their first round playoff series tonight.
http://bit.ly/dKuFNC

LITTLE BETWEEN MANITOBA AND LAKE ERIE – Canadian Press
Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel has the reputation of being a great teacher, but he says his team’s success will come down to something no one can teach. Noel’s team faces the Lake Erie Monsters in the first round of the American Hockey League playoffs Saturday in Cleveland. The Moose coach believes the key to winning the series will come down to the team’s mentality.
http://bit.ly/dPL9vj

MONSTERS CONFIDENT AS PLAYOFF OPENER AWAITS – Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Monsters’ approach throughout the AHL regular season was to value all games equally, regardless of circumstance. Monsters coach David Quinn sees no reason to change for Saturday, even as it brings the first playoff game in the four-season history of the franchise. Lake Erie plays host to Manitoba at The Q in the opener of a best-of-seven series. Faceoff is scheduled for noon.
http://bit.ly/hpyvFo

DIFFERENCE MAKER FOR MOOSE PLAYOFF HOPES – Winnipeg Sun
The bigger the stage, the larger the impact Jason Jaffray usually has on the outcome. As the Manitoba Moose get set to open the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs on Saturday against the Lake Erie Monsters, the veteran winger figures to do some heavy lifting if his team is going to find a way to advance to the second round.
http://bit.ly/gjOL7U

A CAREER YEAR FOR ‘IRV’ – Abbotsford Times
Bittersweet would be the best way to describe Leland Irving’s season with the Abbotsford Heat. A former first-round pick of the Calgary Flames and the suspected heir to Miikka Kiprusoff’s throne, the Heat goaltender put forth his best season as a professional and was at, or near the top of every major statistical category for American Hockey League netminders. For right now, however, the sting of not making the playoffs still lingers.
http://bit.ly/gu1Xe0

AHL FRANCHISE BUYS HOUSE FOR DISABLED BOY WHO LOVES HOCKEY – Toronto Star
This is a hockey tale with a different twist. It’s of a boy who deeply cares about the players he idolizes, players who care right back and an American Hockey League franchise willing to go the extra mile — and then some — for a fan willing to travel 700 miles to be with them. In fact, at their final game of the regular season last weekend, the Charlotte Checkers presented Zach Bennett and his family with keys to a brand new home.
http://bit.ly/eAkcXI


FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
In Stanley Cup Playoff Game 1’s on Thursday night, 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs MVP Carey Price turned in a 31-save shutout and fellow AHL alum Brian Gionta tallied both goals as Montreal earned a 2-0 win at Boston… Two-time AHL All-Star Ryan Miller registered a 35-save shutout to help Buffalo edge Philadelphia, 1-0… 2010 AHL All-Rookie forward Logan Couture scored in the second period, and Joe Pavelski notched the overtime winner as San Jose eked out a 3-2 triumph over Los Angeles.


BY THE NUMBERS:
6 – Consecutive losses in the Calder Cup Playoffs for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which suffered an opening-round sweep to Albany in 2010 and dropped Games 6 and 7 of the 2009 East Division Finals to Hershey after taking a 3-2 series lead… The Penguins look to end that skid tonight when they host Norfolk in the opener of their East Division semifinal.


ON THIS DATE:
April 15, 2010Keith Seabrook scores a pair of goals as Abbotsford wins its postseason opener, 3-2, at Rochester.

April 15, 2004 – Alexander Semin tallies a goal and two assists to help Portland to a 7-1 win at Providence in Game 1 of their best-of-3 Atlantic Division qualifying series.

April 15, 2001 – Chris Clark’s goal at 2:06 of the third overtime period gives the Saint John Flames a 3-2 win at Portland and a three-game sweep of the teams’ first-round playoff series.

April 15, 1966 – Bob Courcy scores twice as Cleveland runs its postseason winning streak to 11 games – then the longest in AHL history – with a 6-2 win over Pittsburgh.

April 15, 1961 – The Springfield Indians complete a four-game sweep and wrap up their second consecutive Calder Cup championship with a 3-0 win at Hershey.

April 15, 1947 – Behind Gord Henry’s third shutout of the series, the Hershey Bears capture their first Calder Cup with a 5-0 win over Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the Finals.


AHL LIVE:
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