AHL Morning Skate: April 20

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 4 – CONNECTICUT 3, Portland 1 (Series tied, 2-2)
Game 4 – Manchester 6, BINGHAMTON 3 (MCH leads series, 3-1)
Game 3 – W-B/Scranton 2, NORFOLK 1 (NOR leads series, 2-1)
Game 3 – Hershey 3, CHARLOTTE 2 (HER leads series, 2-1)
Game 3 – OKLAHOMA CITY 2, Hamilton 0 (HAM leads series, 2-1)
Game 3 – Lake Erie 2, MANITOBA 1 (LE leads series, 2-1)
Game 3 – TEXAS 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT) (TEX leads series, 2-1)
Game 4 – Houston 2, PEORIA 1 (HOU wins series, 4-0)

1. John Grahame allowed an early goal but then stopped the next 39 shots against him to backstop Lake Erie to a 2-1 win at Manitoba in Game 3.

2. Goaltender Martin Gerber helped get Oklahoma City back into its North Division semifinal with a 26-save shutout in the Barons’ 2-0 win over Hamilton.

3. Forward Bud Holloway took over the AHL postseason scoring lead with three assists as the Monarchs moved within a victory of the division finals with a 3-1 triumph at Binghamton.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 4 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00 (HER leads series, 2-1)
Game 5 – Manchester at Binghamton, 7:05 (MCH leads series, 3-1)
Game 4 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15 (NOR leads series, 2-1)
Game 4 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05 (HAM leads series, 2-1)
Game 4 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30 (TEX leads series, 2-1)

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Portland Pirates vs. A3-Connecticut Whale || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – PORTLAND 3, Connecticut 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – PORTLAND 3, Connecticut 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 17 – CONNECTICUT 3, Portland 1
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – CONNECTICUT 3, Portland 1
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – MANCHESTER 2, Binghamton 1
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Binghamton 4, MANCHESTER 3 (OT)
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Manchester 5, BINGHAMTON 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Manchester 6, BINGHAMTON 3
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Norfolk 2, W-B/SCRANTON 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Norfolk 2, W-B/SCRANTON 0
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – W-B/Scranton 2, NORFOLK 1
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – Charlotte 5, HERSHEY 4
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 17 – HERSHEY 4, Charlotte 2
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Hershey 3, CHARLOTTE 2
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – HAMILTON 5, Oklahoma City 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – HAMILTON 2, Oklahoma City 1
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – OKLAHOMA CITY 2, Hamilton 0
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 16 – LAKE ERIE 6, Manitoba 4
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Manitoba 3, LAKE ERIE 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Lake Erie 2, MANITOBA 1
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – MILWAUKEE 5, Texas 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Texas 3, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – TEXAS 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT)
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 13 – HOUSTON 4, Peoria 1
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 15 – HOUSTON 3, Peoria 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 18 – Houston 5, PEORIA 3
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Houston 2, PEORIA 1

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00 (HER leads series, 2-1)
One night after regaining home-ice advantage in this East Division semifinal, Hershey bids for a commanding 3-1 series advantage tonight when it visits Charlotte for Game 4 at Time Warner Cable Arena… The Bears eked out a 3-2 win in Game 3 on Tuesday, jumping out to a 3-0 first-period lead and then holding on for the one-goal victory… Hershey scored first for the third time in as many games when Francois Bouchard scored an unassisted goal 8:44 into the contest, and Keith Aucoin and Kyle Greentree followed with tallies of their own… A member of the Bears’ Calder Cup title teams in 2009 and 2010, Aucoin leads all scorers in the series with six points (2-4-6) on the strength of three two-point efforts… Greentree’s goal was the second of his AHL playoff career and his first since scoring as a member of Philadelphia on Apr. 22, 2008, at Albany… All three first-period goals on Tuesday came against Checkers goaltender Mike Murphy, who was making his first professional playoff appearance after missing the last month due to injury… Hershey forward Steve Pinizzotto picked up an assist in the victory and has now found the scoresheet in all three postseason games so far (1-2-3)… Nick Dodge and Zach Boychuk brought the Checkers closer with goals in the second and third periods, respectively… It marked Dodge’s first goal of the playoffs after he paced Charlotte with 34 markers (34-30-64) during the regular season… Bears goaltender Braden Holtby surrendered five goals in the series opener but has allowed just four goals total in the last two games, including a 28-save effort on Tuesday… Hershey has now won five straight road playoff games dating back to Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals at Manchester.

Game 5 – Manchester at Binghamton, 7:05 (MCH leads series, 3-1)
Manchester can close out Binghamton advance to the Atlantic Division Finals for the second straight year when it visits the Senators for Game 5 tonight… The Monarchs have taken each of the first two games at the Broome County Arena this series and show three victories in as many games at Binghamton for the season… After totaling only five goals in splitting the first two contests of the series on home ice, Manchester has erupted for 11 goals in its last two outings… Monarchs forward Bud Holloway contributed three assists in Tuesday’s 6-3 Game 4 victory and leads the entire AHL in both assists (5) and points (8) thus far in the postseason… Holloway had just one assist through Games 1 and 2 but has produced seven points (3-4-7) in his last two outings… Rookie forward Brayden Schenn, drafted fifth overall by the parent Los Angeles Kings in 2009, notched his first AHL postseason goal and added an assist for the Monarchs on Tuesday, and he has 1-2-3 in two games since joining the club… Manchester also got goals from forwards Justin Azevedo (second of the playoffs), David Meckler (first) and Corey Elkins (second), along with defensemen Viatcheslav Voynov (first) and David Kolomatis (second)… Azevedo (2-4-6) and Elkins (2-2-4) have each begun the postseason on four-game scoring streaks… Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones improved to 2-0 in the playoffs with 35 saves in net… Ryan Potulny provided all of the Senators’ offense in Game 4, netting a hat trick to move atop the AHL leaderboard with five postseason goals overall (5-2-7)… Ryan Keller and Roman Wick both have 1-4-5 in the series for Binghamton… Manchester was 0-6 in its first six chances to close out a playoff series in franchise history, but is 4-0 in its last four opportunities.

Game 4 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15 (NOR leads series, 2-1)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Norfolk resume their East Division semifinal tonight at Scope, one night after the AHL regular-season champion Penguins got on the board with a 2-1 victory on Tuesday to halt an eight-game playoff losing skid… The road team has won each of the series’ first three games, and the teams have combined for only eight goals thus far… These low-scoring tilts have come despite the fact that this series pits the AHL’s third-ranked regular-season offense (Norfolk, 3.31 goals per game) against the fourth-ranked club (Wilkes-Barre, 3.26 goals per game)… Keven Veilleux and Bryan Lerg provided the Penguins’ offense in Game 3, with Lerg’s power-play goal midway through the third period serving as the game-winner… It marked Lerg’s first career postseason goal, and it was assisted by former Calder Cup champion defenseman Andrew Hutchinson and 2010-11 AHL goaltender of the year Brad Thiessen, who picked up his first helper of the entire year… Veilleux’s tally came unassisted in the opening period and was answered by Norfolk’s Stefano Giliati on the power play late in the second period… Giliati registered his first AHL playoff goal and his first goal overall since scoring vs. Albany on Mar. 18… Thiessen finished with 28 saves to pick up the victory in net… Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski owns the AHL’s top-rated goals-against average (1.01) and save percentage (.965) in the playoffs, stopping 82 of 85 shots… Overall, Norfolk has now dropped four straight games on home ice since collecting a 2-1 win over Manchester on Mar. 26, and five of its last six home playoff matches going back to 2006.

Game 4 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05 (HAM leads series, 2-1)
Oklahoma City looks to pull even in this North Division semifinal tonight when it welcomes Hamilton back to the Cox Convention Center for Game 4… The Barons posted their first-ever postseason victory on Tuesday by taking a 2-0 decision in Game 3, improving the home team’s record to 3-0 in this series… Tuesday’s contest was scoreless through the first two periods before the Barons poured 20 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, finally beating Hamilton goaltender Drew MacIntyre on two of them… Colin McDonald and Alexandre Giroux – who have combined to win the AHL’s last three regular-season goal-scoring titles – provided Oklahoma City’s offense… It marked the first goals of the 2011 postseason for both players, and first-ever playoff goal for McDonald… Giroux, who moved into a tie with Jody Gage for second place on the AHL’s career playoff goals list (51), added an assist for a multiple-point night, and linemate Brad Moran also chipped in a helper… The Barons’ five goals in the series thus far have been scored by five different players, and no member of the team has more than two points through the first three tilts… Oklahoma City goaltender Martin Gerber, a 2006 Stanley Cup champion with Carolina, stopped all 26 shots he faced for his first career AHL postseason victory… Hamilton has totaled just two goals in six periods of hockey since taking a 5-2 win in the series opener… MacIntyre’s personal five-game winning streak came to an end despite the fact that he made a season-high 44 saves on 46 shots… The Bulldogs’ power play went 3-for-6 in Game 1 of the series but is just 1-for-12 in the last two contests.

Game 4 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30 (TEX leads series, 2-1)
Texas looks to ride the momentum of Tuesday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory into Game 4 of its West Division semifinal against Milwaukee tonight, when the defending conference champion Stars have a chance to take a 3-1 series lead over the division champion Admirals… The Stars trailed Game 3 by a 2-0 margin with less than five minutes left in regulation but received late goals from defensemen Philip Larsen (15:51, power play) and Brad Lukowich (19:39) to force overtime… Travis Morin assisted on both of those markers before tallying the game-winner winner at 8:44 of the extra session to cap off a three-point effort… Morin now has a team-high six points (2-4-6) for Texas this postseason after tying for second on the club with 16 points (4-12-16) during last spring’s run to the Calder Cup Finals… Rearguards Maxime Fortunus and Brenden Dillon earned helpers on the game-winner, and goaltender Richard Bachman stopped 21 shots to get the win… Milwaukee owned the AHL’s second-best regular-season points percentage when scoring the game’s first goal (27-3-3-4, .824), but the Admirals are now 0-2 in the playoffs when doing so… They went up 1-0 when Chris Mueller scored 3:36 into the game and made it 2-0 on a goal by rookie Gabriel Bourque 34 seconds into the third frame…Bourque is tied for second in the AHL with seven points (3-4-7) in the postseason, and his three goals are deadlocked with Mueller (3-2-5) for the team lead… Bourque and defenseman Roman Josi (0-3-3) each have a point in the first three games of this series for Milwaukee… The Admirals have earned one win in four games at the Cedar Park Center this season – a 1-0 decision back on Nov. 26.


It’s a brand-new series heading back to Portland for the Connecticut Whale. After dropping the first two games to Portland in the Atlantic Division semifinals, the Connecticut Whale tied the series Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over Portland at the XL Center. Even after dominating Portland in all phases Tuesday, Whale coach Ken Gernander isn’t counting on momentum to carry his team heading back to Maine for Game 5 on Thursday.

PIRATES LOSE EDGE ON ROAD – Portland Press Herald
At the start of the week, the Portland Pirates appeared to have control of their first-round American Hockey League playoff series against the Connecticut Whale. Then came the two-game trip to Hartford. With Tuesday night’s 3-1 win at the XL Center, the Whale tied the best-of-seven Atlantic Division semifinals and sent the series back to Portland.

The Monarchs have placed the Senators on the brink of elimination. A four-goal third period blitz and three assists from Bud Holloway led the way as Manchester stormed past Binghamton 6-3 in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Tuesday at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, N.Y.

With less than 10 minutes left in regulation, the Binghamton Senators had battled their way into a tie with the Manchester Monarchs, knowing a win was all that could keep them from the brink of elimination. Three goals later, the Monarchs were walking out of Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena with a 6-3 victory in Game 4 and a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven first-round Calder Cup playoff series.

Whatever is ailing Binghamton Senators star centre Corey Locke, it doesn’t hurt as much as the feeling of being forced out of the lineup during the American Hockey League playoffs. "It’s pretty painful, it’s hard to watch," Locke said on Tuesday night. "(The injury) happened at a bad time of the year. We play 80 games to get into the playoffs, and I played a lot this year. It’s tough watching the guys."

As defenseman Steve Wagner peeled himself up off the ice, blood dripping from his face, his teammates looked up at the clock and knew exactly what time it was for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. It was time to do or die. Bryan Lerg scored on a power-play snap shot from just outside the left hash marks to break a third-period tie, leading the Penguins to a 2-1 win over the Norfolk Admirals in Game 3 of the East Division semifinals.

PENS CASH IN TO COLLECT WIN – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
With the score tied and 12 minutes remaining in Game 3 of the playoff series against Norfolk, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were given golden opportunity. An opportunity that, up until then, the Penguins failed to capitalize on 15 times since the series began. It started when Norfolk’s Pierre-Cedric Labrie was given a double-minor for high-sticking when he got his stick up on Steve Wagner. It ended with a Bryan Lerg wrist shot under the glove of Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski to give the Penguins a 2-1 win.

What, you didn’t think the Admirals were going to kill every penalty in this playoff series, did you? You didn’t think they would sweep the No. 1 team in the AHL, did you? Bryan Lerg‘s power-play goal midway through the final period Tuesday gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 2-1 win at Scope Arena. The loss cut the Admirals’ AHL East Division playoff advantage to two games to one, going into tonight’s Game 4.

A season’s worth of adversity paid playoff dividends for the Hershey Bears Tuesday night in Game 3 of the East Division semifinals at Time Warner Cable Arena. The trickle-down of winger Andrew Gordon being sidelined by an injury suffered in Game 2 affected three lines. But Hershey got scores from two of those lines while racing to a three-goal first-period lead against the Charlotte Checkers and held on for a 3-2 victory.

With 60 wins in 2009-10, the Hershey Bears established an AHL single-season record. Now it’s one that may never be broken. That’s because the league is reducing the regular-season schedule from 80 to 76 games next season. Obviously, it’s going to be harder to reach 60 with four fewer games.

The Hamilton Bulldogs are getting playoff goaltending from Drew MacIntyre. Too bad he can’t score goals as well. MacIntyre was brilliant Tuesday night in Oklahoma City but that wasn’t enough as the Barons beat the Dogs 2-0. The Bulldogs still lead the AHL North Division semifinal series 2-1 but the next two games are also in Oklahoma City.

Colin McDonald had two long minutes to reflect on what he’d done. Early in the third period Tuesday night, the Oklahoma City Barons winger went off on a cross-checking call that could’ve been a backbreaker in a scoreless game. But the Barons killed off the penalty, and seconds after being sprung from the box, McDonald poked one in from the crease to help the Barons pull out a 2-0 win over Hamilton.

An anemic power play is a big reason the Manitoba Moose find themselves behind in their opening-round Calder Cup playoff series with the Lake Erie Monsters as they fell 2-1 before a crowd of 7,823 at the MTS Centre on Tuesday. "No question, if you don’t get the power play going, you’re not going to win a series," said Moose head coach Claude Noel, whose squad is now 0-for-15 this series and 0-for-35 against the Monsters in seven games this season.

MONSTER IN THE ROOM – Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba Moose coach Claude Noel, with good reason, had a lot of issues to resolve with his team heading into the Calder Cup playoffs. The first two games of the series, a split with the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland, revealed the Moose had done some homework and were ready to compete. One issue that remains is the Moose power play, which has been about as useful in the series as the wrong-size lid on your to-go soft drink – one move and it spills all over the place and makes a sticky mess.

Save for one early mistake, it was a night of great saves for John Grahame. The veteran netminder made 37 stops to give his Lake Erie Monsters a crucial 2-1 victory over the Manitoba Moose in Game 3 of their North Division semifinal at MTS Centre. The victory, in front of 7,823 spectators, gave the Monsters a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is slated for Thursday night at MTS Centre, and Game 5 goes Friday, also in Winnipeg.

Without the individual scoring talent from last season’s run to the Calder Cup Finals on the roster, the Texas Stars are going to have to get creative to make it back. If Tuesday’s wild, dramatic and highly unlikely comeback is any evidence, they may just hang around for a while.

Milwaukee Admirals coach Lane Lambert had an interesting perspective after his team blew a late two-goal lead in a 3-2 overtime loss at Texas on Tuesday night. Travis Morin scored in overtime, which was forced on a goal by Brad Lukowich with just 20.8 seconds left in regulation. "It’s not so much what happened," Lambert said. "It’s what happens next."

The Peoria Rivermen made one last move Tuesday in the West Division semifinals against the Houston Aeros. They played their Bishop. Peoria gave veteran goaltender Ben Bishop his pro playoff debut, but the Aeros delivered checkmate, sweeping the Rivermen from the best-of-seven series with a 2-1 victory in Game 4.

Swept. Washed away. Blown out. No way to make the Peoria Rivermen’s quick exit from the AHL playoffs look or sound pretty. Houston beat them again Tuesday night, 2-1, for the fourth time in a week and ended their season. This was not what anyone imagined through the heart of the season, back in December and January and into February, when the Rivermen were staking their claim as the team to beat in the Western Conference.

Forgive Jim Mill for being a tad fired up this evening. The second-year Houston Aeros general manager spent 12 years as an American Hockey League executive. For 12 years, Mill was secretly envious of the players, the coaches, the managers who got to experience the glee of victory, especially in the playoffs. So it was not a shock at all when mere minutes after his Aeros impressively completed a four-game, first-round sweep of the Peoria Rivermen with a 2-1 win, Mill was, well, a tad fired up.

2010 AHL All-Rookie forward Logan Couture registered a goal and an assist in regulation, and Devin Setoguchi notched the overtime game-winner as San Jose rallied for a wild 6-5 road win over Los Angeles in Stanley Cup Playoff action on Tuesday… Elsewhere, 2005 Calder Cup champion Patrick Sharp scored twice and Dave Bolland racked up four points (1-3-4) as Chicago staved off elimination with a 7-2 triumph over Vancouver.

72.0 – Percentage of best-of-seven series tied 1-1 that are eventually won by the team that captures Game 3 (121 of 168).

33 – Consecutive successful penalty kills in the postseason by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, a streak that ended last night… The Penguins had not allowed a power-play goal in the playoffs since Game 7 of the division finals vs. Hershey in 2009.

April 20, 2010 – Led by two goals from Trevor Lewis and 44 saves from Jonathan Bernier, Manchester completes a four-game sweep of Portland with a 7-2 victory.

April 20, 2002Marty Wilford’s goal at 9:29 of the second overtime gives Hartford a 3-2 win in its winner-take-all Game 5 vs. Manchester.

April 20, 2000 – Chris Kenady scores four goals and assists on two others as Hartford posts a 7-2 win over Springfield in another winner-take-all Game 5.

April 20, 1994 – Yanic Perreault records four goals and an assist to lead St. John’s to an 8-2 win at Cape Breton in Game 4 of their first-round series.

April 20, 1952 – A sudden-death overtime goal by Ray Hannigan gives the Pittsburgh Hornets the Calder Cup championship with a 3-2 win over the Providence Reds.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2011 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your computer all season 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.