AHL Morning Skate: April 21, 2023

Photo: Micheline V

A3-Charlotte Checkers vs. A6-Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Game 2 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Series tied, 1-1)

Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 18 – Lehigh Valley 4, CHARLOTTE 3 | Recap
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 20 – CHARLOTTE 5, Lehigh Valley 4 (2OT) | Recap
Game 3 – Fri., Apr. 21 – Lehigh Valley at Charlotte, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

The Checkers and Phantoms wrap up their first-round series with a deciding Game 3... Tonight’s contest comes on the heels of last night’s Game 2, which lasted nearly four hours before Lucas Carlsson won it for Charlotte at the 18:48 mark of the second overtime period... Carlsson (2-2-4) has four points through the first two games of the series after tying for the league lead among defensemen with 20 goals in the regular season... Former Phantom Connor Bunnaman (1-2-3) also had a goal and an assist for Charlotte in Game 2... Cory Conacher, a three-time Calder Cup finalist and a champion with Norfolk in 2012, scored his 21st career postseason goal... After being pulled from Game 1, Mack Guzda (1-1, 3.90, .864) bounced back with a 38-save effort to earn the win in Game 2... Lehigh Valley erased 2-0 and 4-2 deficits, scoring three times in the third period to force OT... Olle Lycksell (2-2-4) scored twice last night after his two-assist effort in Game 1... Samuel Ersson (1-1, 3.03, .901) finished with 45 saves in the loss... Last night’s win was Charlotte’s first ever when facing Calder Cup Playoff elimination (1-5)... The Checkers are 0-2 in winner-take-all playoff games; the Phantoms are 2-3, with both wins coming when they were based in Philadelphia.

A4-Springfield Thunderbirds vs. A5-Hartford Wolf Pack
Game 2 – Tonight, 7:05 ET,
(Hartford leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 19 – Hartford 6, SPRINGFIELD 1 | Recap
Game 2 - Fri., Apr. 21 - Springfield at Hartford, 7:05
*Game 3 - Sat., Apr. 22 - Hartford at Springfield, 7:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Following a convincing win in Game 1 on Wednesday, Hartford can advance to the division semifinals with a home-ice victory over Springfield this evening... The Wolf Pack, who had been shut out in each of their previous three visits to MassMutual Center, got on the board 3:37 into the game en route to a 6-1 win... Lauri Pajuniemi scored twice, Ty Emberson notched a goal and two assists and Tanner Fritz tied a franchise playoff record with three assists for Hartford... Rookie Dylan Garand got the start in net for the Wolf Pack and stopped 24 of 25 shots to earn the win in his pro playoff debut... Adam Gaudette scored the only Thunderbirds goal in Game 1, a power-play tally with 8:16 remaining... The Thunderbirds were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in Game 1 and are 39-for-44 (88.6 percent) this season vs. the Wolf Pack... Springfield was 1-1 when facing elimination during last year’s playoffs, winning a Game 7 against Laval in the Eastern Conference Finals... Hartford scored six goals in a road playoff game Wednesday for the first time since a 7-0 win at Manchester on Apr. 23, 2006.

A1-Providence Bruins vs. lower remaining seed
Game 1 – April 28, 7:05 ET, 

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 28 at Providence, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 29 at Providence, 7:05
Game 3 – TBD at SPR/HFD/LV
*Game 4 – TBD at SPR/HFD/LV
*Game 5 – Sun., May 7 at Providence, 7:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

A2-Hershey Bears vs. higher remaining seed

Game 1 – TBD
Game 2 – TBD
Game 3 – TBD
*Game 4 – TBD
*Game 5 – TBD
*if necessary

N4-Utica Comets vs. N5-Laval Rocket
Game 2 – Tonight, 7:00 ET, 
(Utica leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 19 – Utica 4, LAVAL 0 | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 21 – Laval at Utica, 7:00
*Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 22 – Laval at Utica, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

After grabbing Game 1 on the road, Utica returns home with a chance to close out Laval in Game 2 tonight... Nico Daws made 31 saves in Wednesday’s 4-0 win, becoming the first visiting goaltender to earn a shutout at Place Bell this season... Daws now has three shutouts in his last six starts going back to the regular season... Comets captain Ryan Schmelzer scored twice in Game 1, while Reilly Walsh and Aarne Talvitie added single goals... Utica held Anthony Richard scoreless in Game 1 for the first time this season; Richard had 4-6-10 in four games against the Comets in the regular season... Laval won its last five road games of the regular season, part of an 8-1-0-0 finish overall... The Rocket also won all three of their visits to the Adirondack Bank Center this season, including a 5-2 win in their last trip in on Dec. 14... Laval was 2-1 when facing playoff elimination last year, including road wins over Syracuse and Springfield.

N1-Toronto Marlies vs. UTC/LAV winner
Game 1 – April 27, 7:00 ET,

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 27 at Toronto, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 29 at Toronto, 4:00
Game 3 – TBD at UTC/LAV winner
*Game 4 – TBD at UTC/LAV winner
*Game 5 – Sun., May 7 at Toronto, 4:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

N2-Syracuse Crunch vs. N3-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,

Game 1 - Fri., Apr. 21 - Rochester at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 2 - Sat., Apr. 22 - Rochester at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 3 - Fri., Apr. 28 - Syracuse at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 4 - Sun., Apr. 30 - Syracuse at Rochester, 3:05
*Game 5 - Sat., May 6 - Rochester at Syracuse, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

New York State Thruway rivals Syracuse and Rochester open their fifth head-to-head postseason series with Game 1 of their North Division semifinal tonight... The Crunch and Amerks split their 12 meetings during the regular season, with each taking four of six on the road... The teams last met in the playoffs in 2018, a best-of-five sweep by Syracuse... The Crunch come in having lost four of their last five games in the regular season; the Amerks were 8-2-2-0 down the stretch, but dropped two of three on the final weekend... Syracuse’s Alex Barré-Boulet (24-60-84) earned a First Team AHL All-Star nod for 2022-23, finishing one point off the league scoring lead... Simon Ryfors (27-32-59) closed out the regular season with six goals in his last four games for the Crunch, including a four-goal performance at Utica on Apr. 12... Rochester carries a five-game road winning streak into Game 1, including a 3-2 overtime victory in Syracuse on Apr. 7... Lukas Rousek (16-40-56) led the Amerks in assists and points during the regular season... Jiri Kulich’s team-leading 24 goals were the second-highest total by an 18-year-old in AHL history; Jozef Cierny scored 27 goals, also for Rochester, in 1992-93.

C4-Iowa Wild vs. C5-Rockford IceHogs
Game 2 – Tonight, 8:00 ET,
(Rockford leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 19 – ROCKFORD 3, Iowa 2 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 21 – Rockford at Iowa, 8:00
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 23 – Rockford at Iowa, 4:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Rockford sits on the brink of the division semifinals after a 3-2 overtime victory over Iowa in Game 1 on Wednesday night... Rocco Grimaldi converted a turnover into his first career Calder Cup Playoff OT goal; Grimaldi leads all active AHL players with 13 career overtime winners in the regular season... David Gust and Brett Seney each had a goal and an assist for the IceHogs; both had set career highs in goals during the regular season... Arvid Soderblom got the win in net for Rockford, making 15 of his 29 saves during the third period and overtime... Mitchell Balmas and Steven Fogarty scored in Game 1 for the Wild, who have now lost six of seven road playoff games all-time... For Fogarty, a seventh-year pro, it was his first career postseason point... Jesper Wallstedt turned aside 28 of 31 shots in the loss... Eight of the teams’ 13 meetings this season have now required overtime.

C1-Texas Stars vs. IA/RFD winner

Game 1 – TBD at IA/RFD winner
Game 2 – TBD at IA/RFD winner
Game 3 – Wed., May 3 at Texas, 8:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 5 at Texas, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 6 at Texas, 8:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

C2-Milwaukee Admirals vs. C3-Manitoba Moose
Game 1 – April 28, 8:00 ET,

Game 1 - Fri., Apr. 28 - Milwaukee at Manitoba, 8:00
Game 2 - Sun., Apr. 30 - Milwaukee at Manitoba, 3:00
Game 3 - Wed., May 3 - Manitoba at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 4 - Fri., May 5 - Manitoba at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 5 - Sat., May 6 - Manitoba at Milwaukee, 7:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

P2-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. P7-Tucson Roadrunners
Game 2 – Tonight, 10:00 ET,
(Coachella Valley leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 19 – COACHELLA VALLEY 5, Tucson 1 | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 21 – Tucson at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 23 – Tucson at Coachella Valley, 6:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Coachella Valley pounced early in the franchise’s first-ever postseason game and cruised to a 5-1 win over Tucson on Wednesday night, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three first-round series... Max McCormick, Alexander True and Kole Lind scored to stake the Firebirds to a 3-0 lead before the game was 10 minutes old, and Joey Daccord did the rest by making 45 saves... McCormick (2-1-3), Lind (1-2-3) and Ryker Evans (0-3-3) all finished with three points on the night... Daccord nearly earned his second career playoff shutout, allowing only a goal to Tucson defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok with 1:17 left in regulation... Kolyachonok also recorded a game-high six shots on goal... Ivan Prosvetov, back in the Roadrunners crease after spending the final six weeks of the regular season in the NHL with Arizona, finished with 22 saves.

P3-Colorado Eagles vs. P6-Ontario Reign
Game 2 – Tonight, 9:05 ET,
(Colorado leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 19 – COLORADO 3, Ontario 2 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 21 – Ontario at Colorado, 9:05
*Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 22 – Ontario at Colorado, 9:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Gustav Rydahl scored 6:08 into overtime to lift Colorado to a 3-2 win over Ontario in Game 1 on Wednesday, setting up a possible series clincher for the Eagles tonight... Rydahl’s goal improved Colorado to 4-0 all-time in postseason overtime games, and moved them to within one win of ending the Reign’s season for the third year in a row... Cedric Paré notched a goal and an assist in his playoff debut for the Eagles... Charles Hudon also scored, his first playoff goal since 2017 and second in 10 career postseason games... Justus Annunen made 30 saves in the win, improving to 4-0 in playoff games against Ontario... Nate Thompson and Tyrell Goulbourne had the Reign goals in Game 1... T.J. Tynan picked up an assist after leading the league with 73 helpers during the regular season... Cal Petersen stopped 18 of 21 shots for Ontario in his first playoff start since 2018.

P4-Abbotsford Canucks vs. P5-Bakersfield Condors
Game 2 – Tonight, 10:00 ET,
(Abbotsford leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 19 – ABBOTSFORD 3, Bakersfield 0 | Recap
Game 2 - Fri., Apr. 21 - Bakersfield at Abbotsford, 10:00
*Game 3 - Sun., Apr. 23 - Bakersfield at Abbotsford, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

After Spencer Martin’s 21-save shutout lifted Abbotsford to a 3-0 win on Wednesday night, the Canucks can wrap up the series with another victory over Bakersfield tonight... It was the first career playoff win for Martin, who is in his eighth professional campaign and who played 29 games in the NHL with Vancouver during the regular season... Nils Höglander notched a goal and an assist for the Canucks, while linemate Kyle Rau picked up a pair of assists... Max Sasson, who played seven regular-season games with Abbotsford after completing his sophomore season at Western Michigan University, netted his first pro playoff goal... In his first AHL game since Feb. 15 after finishing the regular season in Vancouver, Eddie Shore Award winner Christian Wolanin assisted on Jack Rathbone’s power-play goal in the third period... Calvin Pickard made 27 saves for the Condors, who were shut out in a postseason game for the first time.

P1-Calgary Wranglers vs. lowest remaining seed
Game 1 – TBD
Game 2 – TBD
Game 3 – TBD
*Game 4 – TBD
*Game 5 – TBD
*if necessary

Highest remaining seed vs. middle remaining seed
Game 1 – TBD
Game 2 – TBD
Game 3 – TBD
*Game 4 – TBD
*Game 5 – TBD
*if necessary

The Charlotte Checkers picked a most opportune time to break a losing streak at Bojangles’ Coliseum. Their double-overtime 5-4 win in Game 2 of their first-round series against Lehigh Valley last night ended a seven-game slide in Charlotte.

It also saved the Checkers’ season and set up a winner-take-all Game 3 tonight with the Phantoms.

Charlotte showed plenty of resilience and persistence, notably facing the absence of former AHL MVP Gerry Mayhew, who left Game 1 early and did not dress for Game 2. They stayed with their game even after Lehigh Valley erased 2-0 and 4-2 Checkers leads. And Lucas Carlsson’s winning goal came after Samuel Ersson had stopped Connor Bunnaman’s point-blank chance, and John Ludvig fished out the rebound of his own follow-up chance and worked the puck out to Carlsson in the slot.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Checkers head coach Geordie Kinnear told the team website after the game. “It’s momentum, it’s the way it works. It’s a huge thing that you have to learn to be able to handle. Just have simple micro-goals like win your next shift and put the other one to bed. It’s a learning curve for everybody.

“It’s a lot of mental toughness. You play throughout the year and you talk about it, and then it comes to fruition. You’ve got to make sure that you’re dialed in and mentally tough throughout.”

Mack Guzda showed his own ability to bounce back after being pulled after allowing four goals in Game 1. Kinnear turned back to his rookie, and Guzda repaid that faith with 38 saves in last night’s win. Kinnear cited Guzda’s ability to put aside his earlier struggles.

“Focus on that next one, and that’s what he did,” Kinnear said. “I’m proud of him, proud of the group and proud of the dig-in.”

With the Tampa Bay Lightning already dealing with multiple injuries early into their first-round battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the effects have hit the Syracuse Crunch.

Tampa Bay defensemen Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak and forward Mikey Eyssimont missed last night’s Game 2 in Toronto. Those lineup losses prompted the Lightning to recall forward Alex Barré-Boulet and defenseman Philippe Myers from the Crunch yesterday as a precautionary measure.

Barré-Boulet and Myers did not dress, and Tampa Bay returned both players to the Crunch in time for Syracuse to open its postseason tonight against Rochester.

― Patrick Williams

In action around the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs last night, 2016 AHL All-Star William Nylander notched a goal and an assist in Toronto’s 7-2 win over Tampa Bay... Chris Kreider had his second straight two-goal game as the N.Y. Rangers defeated New Jersey, 5-1... 2017 AHL All-Star Devon Toews scored the winning goal with 7:01 to play as Colorado rallied past Seattle, 3-2... Mark Stone tallied two goals and an assist to lead Vegas over Winnipeg, 5-2.


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