AHL Morning Skate: April 23

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

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

Tonight’s Previews

Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live
@PortlandPirates | @MonarchsHockey | #MCHvsPOR

Portland rallied with wins on the final two days of the regular season to grab the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference; the Pirates’ reward is a first-round date with Manchester, winners of the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s regular-season champions… The Monarchs host Game 1 tonight after a 50-win, 109-point showing to roll to the best record in the league… The Monarchs are in the postseason for the 13th time in 14 seasons, but they have only gotten out of the first round twice — in 2007 and 2010, when they reached the conference finals… Brian O’Neill, the AHL’s MVP for 2014-15, led the AHL in assists (58) and points (80) while tying for the league lead in plus/minus (+30)… Jordan Weal (20-49-69) placed third in the league in scoring… Alexandre Bolduc, who scored the game-winning goal in the final minute at Worcester on Sunday to propel Portland into the playoffs, led the Pirates in scoring (23-29-52) and established a career high in points for his 10-year pro career… Manchester was 9-2-0-1 vs. Portland in the regular season, outscoring the Pirates 41-24… The Monarchs finished fifth in the league in offense (3.17 goals per game) and second in defense (2.32), marking the second season in a row in which they were the only AHL team in the top five of both categories… Manchester had the AHL’s top-ranked power play in the regular season (20.7 percent), while Portland was third on the penalty kill (87.3 percent)… Manchester is 5-11 all-time in Game 1’s; Portland is 11-16.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “A” (best-of-5)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 8-Portland Pirates
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Portland at Manchester, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Portland at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Manchester at Portland, 5:00
*Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Manchester at Portland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Portland at Manchester, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 8:00 ET, AHL Live
@SARampage | @OKCBarons | #SAvsOKC
The best regular-season showing the San Antonio’s franchise history ended with a 45-23-7-1 record, 98 points, a West Division title and the #3 seed in the Western Conference… Now the Rampage open the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs against Oklahoma City, the team that eliminated them from their most recent postseason appearance in 2012… San Antonio advances without their leading scorer, the injured Bobby Butler (27-32-59), but Connor Brickley (22-25-47) tied for second among all AHL rookies in goals and Garrett Wilson (23-15-38) added 23 goals, including a team-high eight on the power play… Andrew Miller (27-33-60) led Oklahoma City in scoring during the regular season, more than tripling his goal production from his 2013-14 rookie campaign (8-26-34)… First Team AHL All-Star Brad Hunt (19-32-51) of the Barons tied for the league lead among defensemen in goals… Oklahoma City set an AHL record with 14 overtime wins in 2014-15… The Rampage were 17-3-1-1 from Feb. 18 to Apr. 10 but enter the playoffs on a four-game losing streak… The Barons won three of their last four games to close out 2014-15 but had lost 10 of their previous 11.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “G” (best-of-5)
3-San Antonio Rampage vs. 6-Oklahoma City Barons

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 23 – San Antonio at Oklahoma City, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – San Antonio at Oklahoma City, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 8:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 8:30
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 8:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

About Last Night…
Bobby Sanguinetti buried a rebound of an Alexandre Grenier shot with 3:10 gone in the second overtime period to give Utica a 3-2 win over Chicago in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series… Hunter Shinkaruk and Nicklas Jensen also scored for the Comets, the top seed in the West… Magnus Paajarvi scored both goals for the Wolves, including the equalizer with exactly one second remaining in regulation… Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves in the win; Jordan Binnington finished with 40 stops in his Calder Cup Playoff debut… Hartford opened its Eastern Conference quarterfinal with a 3-1 win over Providence at the XL Center… Danny Kristo tallied a goal and an assist and Yann Danis made 28 saves for the Wolf Pack… Steve Spinell and Carl Klingberg also scored for Hartford, while Zach Trotman had the lone tally for the Bruins.

Top Cats
The Manchester Monarchs enter the Calder Cup Playoffs with the best record in the league for the first time in franchise history. Here is how previous Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy winners have fared in the postseason:

2014, Texas Stars — Won Calder Cup
2013, Providence Bruins — Lost conference semifinal
2012, Norfolk Admirals — Won Calder Cup
2011, W-B/Scranton Penguins — Lost division final
2010, Hershey Bears — Won Calder Cup
2009, Manitoba Moose — Lost Calder Cup Final
2008, Providence Bruins — Lost division final
2007, Hershey Bears — Lost Calder Cup Final
2006, Grand Rapids Griffins — Lost conference final
2005, Rochester Americans — Lost division final
2004, Milwaukee Admirals — Won Calder Cup
2003, Hamilton Bulldogs — Lost Calder Cup Final
2002, Bridgeport Sound Tigers — Lost Calder Cup Final
2001, Worcester IceCats — Lost division final
2000, Hartford Wolf Pack — Won Calder Cup
1999, Providence Bruins — Won Calder Cup
1998, Philadelphia Phantoms — Won Calder Cup

Alumni Watch
In last night’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, Mike Hoffman scored at 9:05 of the third period to give Ottawa a 1-0 win over Montreal and avoid elimination in Game 4 of their series… Hoffman was a First Team AHL All-Star in 2013-14 after recording 30-37-67 in 51 games with Binghamton… Carl Hagelin and former AHL All-Star Martin St. Louis picked up the assists on the winning goal in the N.Y. Rangers’ 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh… Kevin Shattenkirk tallied three assists and 2013-14 Baz Bastien Award winner Jake Allen made 17 saves as St. Louis rolled past Minnesota, 6-1… Former AHL All-Star Ryan Kesler scored twice in the third period as Anaheim completed a four-game sweep with a 5-2 win over Winnipeg… Former AHL All-Star Patrice Bergeron earned his fourth consecutive nod as a finalist for the NHL’s Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game"… Bergeron won the award in 2012 and 2014.

AHL Live

Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2015 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.