AHL Morning Skate: April 18

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.

Game 2 – HAMILTON 8, Manitoba 2 (HAM leads series, 2-0)
Game 3 – Worcester 3, LOWELL 2 (WOR leads series, 2-1)
Game 2 – Manchester 3, PORTLAND 1 (MCH leads series, 2-0)
Game 3 – Hershey 7, BRIDGEPORT 2 (HER leads series, 3-0)
Game 2 – ROCHESTER 4, Abbotsford 1 (Series tied, 1-1)
Game 3 – MILWAUKEE 6, Chicago 0 (CHI leads series, 2-1)
Game 2 – TEXAS 3, Rockford 1 (TEX leads series, 2-0)

1. Andrew Gordon scored three of Hershey’s six second-period goals in a 7-2 win at Bridgeport in Game 3.

2. 2010 Hobey Baker Award winner Blake Geoffrion scored his first two pro goals in Milwaukee’s 6-0 whitewash of Chicago in Game 3.

3. Brock Trotter scored two goals and assisted on another as Hamilton rolled to an 8-2 win over Manitoba in Game 2 at Copps Coliseum.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 4 – Hershey at Bridgeport, 3:00 (HER leads series, 3-0)
Game 3 – Albany at W-B/Scranton, 3:05 (ALB leads series, 2-0)

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Worcester Sharks vs. A4-Lowell Devils
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 14 – Lowell 3, WORCESTER 2
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 15 – WORCESTER 3, Lowell 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 17 – Worcester 3, LOWELL 2
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 20 – Worcester at Lowell, 7:00
Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 21 – Worcester at Lowell, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 24 – Lowell at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 25 – Lowell at Worcester, 5:05

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Portland Pirates vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 16 – Manchester 2, PORTLAND 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 17 – Manchester 3, PORTLAND 1
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 19 – Portland at Manchester, 7:00
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 20 – Portland at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 22 – Manchester at Portland, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 24 – Portland at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 25 – Manchester at Portland, 7:00

East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A5-Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 14 – HERSHEY 4, Bridgeport 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 16 – HERSHEY 3, Bridgeport 2
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 17 – Hershey 7, BRIDGEPORT 2
Game 4 – Sun., Apr. 18 – Hershey at Bridgeport, 3:00
*Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 21 – Bridgeport at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Fri., Apr. 23 – Hershey at Bridgeport, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., Apr. 24 – Bridgeport at Hershey, 7:00

East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Albany River Rats vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 14 – ALBANY 4, W-B/Scranton 3
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 16 – ALBANY 3, W-B/Scranton 2
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 18 – Albany at W-B/Scranton, 3:05
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 19 – Albany at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 21 – W-B/Scranton at Albany, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 24 – Albany at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 25 – W-B/Scranton at Albany, 5:00

North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N4-Manitoba Moose

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 15 – HAMILTON 2, Manitoba 0
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 17 – HAMILTON 8, Manitoba 2
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 19 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 21 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 23 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 25 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 27 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Rochester Americans vs. N3-Abbotsford Heat

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 15 – Abbotsford 3, ROCHESTER 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 17 –  ROCHESTER 4, Abbotsford 1
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 19 – Rochester at Abbotsford, 10:00
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 21 – Rochester at Abbotsford, 10:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 23 – Rochester at Abbotsford, 10:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 25 – Abbotsford at Rochester, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 27 – Abbotsford at Rochester, 7:05

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

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 14 – CHICAGO 6, Milwaukee 5
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 16 – CHICAGO 3, Milwaukee 0
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 17 – MILWAUKEE 6, Chicago 0
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 19 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 21 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 6 – Fri., Apr. 23 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 26 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00

West Division Semifinal – Series “H” (best-of-7)
W2-Texas Stars vs. W3-Rockford IceHogs
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 16 – TEXAS 2, Rockford 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 17 –  TEXAS 3, Rockford 1
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 21 – Texas at Rockford, 8:05
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 23 – Texas at Rockford, 8:05
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 24 – Texas at Rockford, 8:05
*Game 6 – Mon., Apr. 26 – Rockford at Texas, 8:30
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 27 – Rockford at Texas, 8:30

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Hershey at Bridgeport, 3:00 (HER leads series, 3-0)
Hershey can become the first team to advance to the division finals this afternoon with another victory at Bridgeport… The Bears took a commanding 3-0 series lead in their East Division semifinal courtesy of a 7-2 triumph over the Sound Tigers last night… Hershey set a franchise record by scoring six times in the second period alone, marking the most goals in an AHL playoff period since Philadelphia tallied six goals in the third period vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on May 13, 2005… Andrew Gordon notched three goals for the Bears, recording his first hat trick since the season’s first game on Oct. 3 vs. Norfolk… Alexandre Giroux racked up two goals and two assists, giving the two-time AHL goal-scoring champion a league-high five goals and eight points in the playoffs thus far… Steve Pinizzotto and Kyle Wilson also netted Game 3 goals for the Bears, who converted on three of their four power plays after beginning the series 1-for-14 on the man advantage… Mathieu Perreault and AHL scoring champion Keith Aucoin each posted three assists, and goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 32 saves in net… The Bears, who took four straight wins from Philadelphia in 2009, are looking to sweep through the first round for the second consecutive year… Greg Mauldin and Jeremy Reich scored on Saturday for the Sound Tigers, who fell behind 6-0 before getting a puck past Neuvirth… Mikko Koskinen, a second-round draft pick by the New York Islanders last summer, made his Calder Cup Playoff debut in relief for Bridgeport last night… The Sound Tigers have now lost an AHL-record nine consecutive home playoff games since their last postseason victory at the Arena at Harbor Yard, a 5-4 overtime win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Apr. 17, 2004.

Game 3 – Albany at W-B/Scranton, 3:05 (ALB leads series, 2-0)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton looks to get in the win column against Albany this afternoon as the teams’ East Division semifinal shifts to the Mohegan Sun Arena… The River Rats and Penguins were the only playoff teams idle on a Saturday which featured seven games around the league… Albany collected a pair of one-goal victories on home ice to open the series, answering a late game-tying goal with the winning tally in both… Defenseman Jamie McBain snapped a 2-2 tie with 4:02 left in regulation on Friday, with rookie Drayson Bowman and Mike Angelidis assisting on the play… Nick Dodge also netted a third-period goal for the River Rats in Game 2, giving him three goals and four points in two playoff games thus far… Rookie Chris Terry rounded out Albany’s scoring with his first career Calder Cup Playoff goal… Goaltender Justin Peters improved to 2-0 this postseason with 27 saves on 29 shots in net… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton dropped Game 2 despite scoring the first goal, which came off the stick of Eric Tangradi late in the first period… Konstantin Pushkarev also scored for the Penguins, and Joe Vitale assisted on both markers… Only 20 times in AHL history has a team won a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games, but the Penguins have authored three of those comebacks, in the first round in 2004, 2005 and 2006… Wilkes-Barre went 4-1 at home during the 2009 postseason.

Maybe the Rochester Americans just need to feel that must-win pressure in order to really play well. Having lost their playoff opener, and with Games 3, 4 and 5 of this first-round Calder Cup series to be played in British Columbia, the Amerks knew a loss in Game 2 on Saturday night just might doom them. They responded with an overwhelming performance, defeating the Abbotsford Heat 4-1 to even the best-of-seven series 1-1.

Momentum can be a funny thing in playoff hockey. The Abbotsford Heat know this all too well after they had all the momentum through the first four periods of their North Division semifinal against the Rochester Americans only to lose it suddenly in the second period of Game 2 on route to a 4-1 loss, which evened the best-of-seven series at one win apiece.

Exactly one week after playing for the University of Wisconsin in the NCAA national championship game, Blake Geoffrion was skating on the same ice as one of the greatest Badgers of all time: Chris Chelios. Playing in just his second game with the Milwaukee Admirals, Geoffrion scored two goals in a 6-0 victory over the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night in front of 4,078 fans at the Bradley Center.

SHARKS TAKE SERIES LEAD – Worcester Telegram & Gazette
It would save everybody a lot of blood, sweat, toil and tears if the AHL would simply record which team scores first in this series and declare it the winner, 3-2. That is what has happened in every game so far, and the Sharks have won the last two of them including the one here last night.

Alex Stalock made 32 saves in goal as the Worcester Sharks beat the Lowell Devils, 3-2, in Game 3 of their AHL Atlantic Division best-of-7 semifinal playoff series. The Sharks got goals from Dan DaSilva, T.J. Trevelyan (power-play) and Derek Joslin. Lowell got power-play goals from David McIntyre and Matt Taormina. Goalie Mike McKenna finished with 28 saves for Lowell, in the Devils’ first home playoff game in franchise history.

The Hamilton Bulldogs record setting ways have continued in the playoffs. The Dogs, who set more than 30 franchise records during the AHL regular season, set one new team mark and tied another Saturday afternoon. The Dogs blasted the Manitoba Moose 8-2 at Copps Coliseum to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven AHL North Division semifinal.

When Cory Schneider starts between the pipes and finishes the game as a spectator and it has nothing to do with an injury, it’s generally bad news for the Manitoba Moose. Schneider was yanked after just over 32 minutes of action Saturday afternoon as the Moose were smoked 8-2 by the Hamilton Bulldogs before a crowd of 5,626 at Copps Coliseum.

The Hershey Bears had shown only flashes in the East Division semifinals of the explosiveness that led them to the top of the AHL this year. Saturday, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers felt the blast, got knocked backward and now cling to their playoff life. Hershey scored six goals in the second period to beat Bridgeport 7-2 in Game 3.

For two games, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers traded blows with the Hershey Bears while losing narrow decisions. In Game 3 of the East Division semifinals Saturday night, the AHL’s heavyweight champion delivered a second-period technical knockout at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

PIRATES SIT IN 2-0 HOLE – Maine Sunday Telegram
Picking up where they left off Friday night, the Manchester Monarchs took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven AHL playoff series with a 3-1 win over the Portland Pirates on Saturday night. The Monarchs, who lost seven of 10 games against the Pirates during the regular season, scored all their goals in the first period and earned their second straight victory at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Rockford IceHogs trailed the Texas Stars 2-0 after the first period of Saturday’s Game 2 in Austin, Texas. Texas held on for a 3-1 win, and now the IceHogs trail the Stars 2-0 in the playoff series, which returns to Rockford for Game 3 on Wednesday. “We should have been the hungrier and more desperate team, but they jumped out to a 2-0 lead,” IceHogs head coach Bill Peters said.

STARS TAKE 2-0 SERIES LEAD – Austin American-Statesman
The Stars snagged a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 3-1 win at the Cedar Park Center on Saturday. Game 3 is Wednesday in Rockford, Ill., where Texas was 4-0 during the regular season. "It’s nice to have that record there," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, "but this is the playoffs."

Home advantage takes a different twist in hockey, where the rules provide an extra edge. After stoppages in play, the home team can make the final line change. That allows Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach Todd Reirden the ability to dictate matchups today as he tries to cut into a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-7 American Hockey League playoff series against the Albany River Rats.

IN 0-2 HOLE, PENS BACK HOME – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Down two games to none in their playoff series with the Albany River Rats, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins aren’t in a position that they haven’t been in before. In the team’s history, the Penguins have lost the first two games of a playoff series 10 times, not including the current series against Albany.

Down 2-0 in their East Division semifinals series with the Albany River Rats, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have reached a crossroads in their playoff journey. If the Penguins hold serve at home and win Game 3 today and Game 4 tomorrow night, they’ll be in perfectly fine shape heading back to Albany for Game 5 Wednesday. If they slip up and lose even once, they’re pretty much toast.

It might be the worst-kept secret around the NHL these days. Kevin Dineen, one of the most respected NHL players during the 1980s and ’90s and one of the rising stars in today’s coaching ranks, is widely considered the leading candidate to become the Columbus Blue Jackets’ coach.

In yesterday’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, 2009 Calder Cup champion and 2010 AHL All-Rookie defenseman John Carlson scored the game-tying goal late in regulation, setting up Washington’s 6-5 overtime win over Montreal… Michael Ryder, a 2003 Calder Cup finalist with Hamilton, scored twice and Tuukka Rask earned his first career NHL playoff win as Boston rallied past Buffalo, 5-3… Jonathan Quick stopped 24 of 26 shots as Los Angeles collected a 3-2 overtime win at Vancouver.

1.25 – Average margin of victory over the first three days of the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs, when 12 of 15 games were decided by a single goal.

3.57 – Average margin of victory in Saturday’s seven games.

April 18, 2009Chris Minard’s goal 4:54 into overtime gives Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 5-4 win over Bridgeport at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.

April 18, 2008Chad Kolarik notches a hat trick in his second professional game, leading San Antonio to a 6-3 victory at Toronto and the first postseason win in franchise history.

April 18, 2000 – Johan Hedberg’s 41-save shutout gives Kentucky a 4-0 win over Louisville and a 3-1 series victory.

April 18, 1986 – Yves Courteau scores 31:06 into overtime as Moncton defeats Maine, 4-3, to take a 3-1 lead in their Northern Division semifinal.

April 18, 1962 – The two-time defending Calder Cup champion Springfield Indians open up the Finals with a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons in Game 1.

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