AHL Morning Skate: April 22

Take a game-day spin around the AHL ice with latest news and notes from
the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs in today’s Morning Skate.

Complete Schedule || Playoff Brackets || Today’s Scoreboard || League Leaders

Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live

The Atlantic Division champion Hershey Bears begin their latest quest for a 12th Calder Cup at the Cross Insurance Arena tonight against the Portland Pirates… The Bears have been in the AHL since 1938 and Portland has had AHL hockey for 38 seasons, but this is just the second time the cities have met in the playoffs: Hershey defeated the Pirates in a classic conference final series in 2006, winning Game 7 on an overtime goal by Eric Fehr… Hershey forward Chris Bourque, who began his pro career with Portland in 2005, won his second AHL scoring title (30-50-80) and first MVP award in 2015-16 and set a career-high with 30 goals… Rookies Riley Barber (26-29-55) and Travis Boyd (21-32-53) were second and third on the Bears in team scoring… Hershey goaltender Dan Ellis (25-12-5, 2.38, .908) was a teammate of many members of the Pirates when Florida was affiliated with San Antonio last season… Portland’s scoring leader in the regular season was Rob Schremp, who finished with 21-21-42 but just 4-5-9 in 32 games after the All-Star break… The Pirates’ top point-getter in the second half was Connor Brickley (12-15-27), with 10-11-21 in his last 23 games… Mike McKenna (33-17-5, 2.45, .921) won a career-best 33 games and played a career-high 57 games for Portland this season… The teams split their regular-season series in 2015-16, with the home team winning all four games.

Atlantic Division Semifinals – Series “A” (best-of-5)
A1-Hershey Bears vs. A4-Portland Pirates
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Hershey at Portland, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Hershey at Portland, 7:00
Game 3 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Portland at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 4 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Portland at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 1 – Portland at Hershey, 5:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live

Separated by just 95 miles on the New York State Thruway, Albany and Utica take their rivalry to the postseason stage for the first time in 2016… The Devils host Game 1 tonight after finishing the best regular-season by a New Jersey AHL affiliate in 20 years, winning 46 games and racking up 102 points… Albany’s Matt Lorito (18-36-54) was one of four AHL rookies to lead his team in scoring in 2015-16, joining Rockford’s Vinnie Hinostroza, San Antonio’s Mikko Rantanen and San Diego’s Brandon MontourPavel Zacha, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, had 1-2-3 in three games after joining Albany last week… T.J. Hensick (9-31-40) totaled 2-13-15 in 19 games after coming over to Utica from Charlotte on Mar. 7… Alexandre Grenier had 6-9-15 in 23 playoff games as the Comets reached the Calder Cup Finals last spring, then came back and led Utica in scoring in 2015-16 with 16-32-48 in 69 contests… Albany owned the best home record in the league in 2015-16 at 27-7-3-1 (.763)… The Devils are 12-0-2-0 all-time against the Comets, including 6-0-2-0 this season.

North Division Semifinals – Series “D” (best-of-5)
N2-Albany Devils vs. N3-Utica Comets
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Utica at Albany, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Utica at Albany, 5:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 26 – Albany at Utica, 7:00
*Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Albany at Utica, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Utica at Albany, 5:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 8:00 ET, AHL Live

Central Division rivals Milwaukee and Grand Rapids meet in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006 as they open their first-round series tonight… The Admirals surged to their fifth AHL division title by going 15-4-0-2 in their last 21 games, including a 13-game points streak from Mar. 13 to Apr. 12 (11-0-0-2)… The Griffins had winning streaks of 15 games and 13 games during the regular season, but lost 10 of their last 13 to finish in fourth place in the Central… Kevin Fiala (18-32-50), the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, led Milwaukee in scoring during the regular season… Pontus Åberg (25-15-40) scored a team-best 25 goals for the Admirals, including six in his last seven games… Veteran forwards Andy Miele (18-44-62) and Eric Tangradi (28-28-56) finished atop the Griffins in scoring… Second Team AHL All-Star Robbie Russo (5-34-39) led the AHL in plus/minus rating at +40, the highest rating by an AHL rookie since P.K. Subban (+46) in 2009-10… Grand Rapids won five of eight meetings between the teams during the 2015-16 regular season, and is 19-6-1-0 in its last 26 games vs. Milwaukee.

Central Division Semifinals – Series “E” (best-of-5)
C1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. C4-Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Grand Rapids at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Grand Rapids at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 26 – Milwaukee at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 27 – Milwaukee at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Grand Rapids at Milwaukee, 8:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 10:30 ET, AHL Live

The first Calder Cup Playoff game ever played in the state of California takes place at SAP Center in San Jose tonight as the Barracuda host the Ontario Reign in Game 1 of their Pacific Division semifinal… San Jose needed a 6-0 win over Stockton in the 1,120th and final game of the AHL regular season on Sunday evening to clinch the league’s last postseason spot… Ontario went wire-to-wire atop the Pacific Division, winning its first five games of the season and rolling to a 44-19-4-1 record and the second-best points percentage in the league (.684)… The Reign allowed 2.03 goals per game, the sixth-lowest average in AHL history, and Peter Budaj (42-14-4, 1.75, .932) won the Baz Bastien Award as he led the league in wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts (9)… Ontario won nine of the teams’ 12 meetings during the regular season, but they split six visits to San Jose… Barracuda goaltender Aaron Dell (17-16-6, 2.42, .922) had a .944 save percentage in eight games against the Reign… Ryan Carpenter (18-37-55) led San Jose in assists, points and plus/minus (+20) in 2015-16, and won the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as the AHL’s Man of the Year.

Pacific Division Semifinals – Series “G” (best-of-5) 
P1-Ontario Reign vs. P4-San Jose Barracuda
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Ontario at San Jose, 10:30
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Ontario at San Jose, 10:30
Game 3 – Thu., Apr. 28 – San Jose at Ontario, 10:00
*Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 29 – San Jose at Ontario, 10:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 1 – San Jose at Ontario, 6:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Thursday’s Recaps
Sprong fever: Pens win in OT again
Monsters storm back for 2-0 series lead
Gulls take opener from Stars
Working Overtime
There have been 2 overtime games played in the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs so far:

Apr. 21 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, Providence 3 (Daniel Sprong, 5:13)
Apr. 20 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Providence 2 (Carter Rowney, 1:09)

Alumni Watch
In Stanley Cup Playoff action last night, 2012 Calder Cup champion Alex Killorn broke a scoreless tie with 1:43 left in regulation and 2012 AHL All-Star Ben Bishop made 34 saves as Tampa Bay eliminated Detroit with a 1-0 win in Game 5… Matt Murray, who has 16 shutouts in 72 career appearances in the AHL, made 31 saves as Pittsburgh shut out the New York Rangers, 5-0… Frederik Andersen, who ranked second in the AHL with a .929 save percentage in 2012-13, made 30 saves to lead Anaheim to a 4-1 win over Nashville in Game 4… Corey Crawford stopped 43 shots as Chicago staved off elimination with a 4-3 win over St. Louis in double overtime.

AHL Live
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2016 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet all season long with live video webcasts and free highlights of every AHL game… Visit ahllive.com for details.