AHL Morning Skate: April 23, 2008

AHL Quick Hits is now the Morning Skate… Every morning, take 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.



Portland 3, HARTFORD 2 (POR wins, 4-1)

Philadelphia 2, ALBANY 1 (Series tied, 2-2)

Rockford 2, HOUSTON 1 (RFD leads, 2-1)

Syracuse 2, MANITOBA 1 (OT) (SYR leads, 2-1)


1. Kyle Greentree scored the game-winning goal and added an assist as Philadelphia took a 2-1 win at Albany, evening their East Division semifinal at two games apiece.

2. Tom Sestito netted a goal 11 minutes into overtime to give Syracuse a 2-1 victory at Manitoba and a 2-1 series lead in their North Division semifinal.

3. Derek Nesbitt tallied the game-winner with just 2:46 left in regulation to propel Rockford to a 2-1 victory and a 2-1 series lead over Houston.


Game 4 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00 (WBS leads, 3-0)

Game 4 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00 (CHI leads, 2-1)

Game 4 – Toronto at San Antonio, 8:00 (SAN leads, 2-1)

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Manchester Monarchs || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – PROVIDENCE 3, Manchester 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – PROVIDENCE 2, Manchester 0
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Providence 3, MANCHESTER 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 21 –  Providence 3, MANCHESTER 2 (OT)

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Hartford Wolf Pack vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – HARTFORD 3, Portland 1
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 17 – Portland 3, HARTFORD 2 (2OT)
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 19 – PORTLAND 3, Hartford 2
Game 4 – Sun., Apr. 20 – PORTLAND 4, Hartford 3
Game 5 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Portland 3, HARTFORD 2

East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E4-Hershey Bears || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – W-B/Scranton 2, HERSHEY 1 (OT)
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 19 – W-B/SCRANTON 6, Hershey 2
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 20 – W-B/SCRANTON 5, Hershey 1
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 23 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 27 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 5:05

East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Philadelphia Phantoms vs. E3-Albany River Rats || Preview

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – ALBANY 4, Philadelphia 0
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – PHILADELPHIA 3, Albany 0
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 20 – Albany 4, PHILADELPHIA 1
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Philadelphia 2, ALBANY 1
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 24 – Philadelphia at Albany, 7:00
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Albany at Philadelphia, 1:05 (WC)
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 29 – Albany at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)


North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. W5-San Antonio Rampage || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – TORONTO 4, San Antonio 3
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – San Antonio 6, TORONTO 3
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 21 – SAN ANTONIO 3, Toronto 2
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 23 – Toronto at San Antonio, 8:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Toronto at San Antonio, 8:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 27 – San Antonio at Toronto, 4:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – San Antonio at Toronto, 7:30

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Syracuse Crunch vs. N3-Manitoba Moose || Preview
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 18 – SYRACUSE 2, Manitoba 1 (OT)
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Manitoba 3, SYRACUSE 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Syracuse 2, MANITOBA 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Syracuse at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Syracuse at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 29 – Manitoba at Syracuse, 7:00

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

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 16 – Milwaukee 4, CHICAGO 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 18 – CHICAGO 2, Milwaukee 1
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 20 – Chicago 4, MILWAUKEE 3 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 23 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 24 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:30
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Milwaukee at Chicago, 8:00

West Division Semifinal – Series “H” (best-of-7)
W2-Rockford IceHogs vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 18 – ROCKFORD 3, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 19 – Houston 1, ROCKFORD 0 (2OT)
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 22 – Rockford 2, HOUSTON 1
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 24 – Rockford at Houston, 8:05
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 25 – Rockford at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 27 – Houston at Rockford, 5:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 28 – Houston at Rockford, 8:05


*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey,
7:00 (WBS leads, 3-0)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goes for the sweep tonight as it takes on Hershey at the Giant Center in Game 4 of their East Division semifinal… The Penguins are 10-5 all-time with a chance to eliminate an opponent and are trying for their first series win against the Bears since sweeping them in the 2001 Western Conference finals… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has outscored Hershey by a 13-4 margin in the series, including 11-3 over the last two games… Penguins forward Tim Brent is tied for the AHL playoff scoring lead with six points (3-3-6) in the first three games… AHL All-Rookie goaltender John Curry has started his pro playoff career with three wins, a 1.30 GAA and a .949 save percentage… Andrew Gordon has had a hand in all of the Bears’ offense in the series, scoring all three of Hershey’s goals in Games 2 and 3 and assisting on Chris Bourque’s tally in Game 1… The Bears have not been ousted from the playoffs on home ice since a loss to Houston on May 3, 2002 – the final game ever played at Hersheypark Arena.


Game 4 – Chicago at Milwaukee, 8:00 (CHI leads, 2-1)

Following a 4-3 overtime win on Sunday, Chicago brings a 2-1 series lead into tonight’s Game 4 with Milwaukee at the Bradley Center… Each of the first three games has been decided by one goal, and each team has won once in overtime on the other’s home ice… Former Admiral Darren Haydar netted a pair of goals, including the OT winner, in Game 3, giving him 45 goals and 99 points for his Calder Cup Playoff career… Jesse Schultz has scored in each game of the series for Chicago after going without a point in seven playoff games for Manitoba last spring… lit the lamp in all three games of the series thus far… The Wolves are 4-for-19 (21.1%) on the power play in the series, including a 3-for-8 effort in Game 3… Milwaukee’s Josh Langfeld missed Game 2 while on NHL recall to Nashville, but still leads the AHL league with five playoff goals in only two games… Langfeld has all three of Milwaukee’s power-play goals as well as its one shorthanded goal in the series… The Admirals have lost five straight home playoff games since a win over Hershey in Game 1 of the 2006 Calder Cup Finals.


Game 4 – Toronto at San Antonio, 8:00 (SAN leads, 2-1)

Toronto and San Antonio resume their North Division semifinal tonight at the AT&T Center, with the Rampage looking to take a commanding lead in the series… David Spina, Jon DiSalvatore and Bill Thomas all scored second-period goals to lead to San Antonio to a 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Monday… Former Marlies defenseman Brendan Bell leads all scorers with five points (1-4-5) for the Rampage in the series… San Antonio ranked 22nd in the AHL on the power play in the regular season and Toronto was first on the penalty kill, but the Rampage have scored five times in 15 chances (33.3%) with the man advantage in the series… The Marlies, meanwhile, are 0-for-16 on the power play in the series and 2-for-36 (5.6%) in its last 11 games overall… Jay Harrison had a goal and an assist and Kris Newbury recorded two assists for Toronto in Monday’s loss, and rookie Brent Aubin added his first playoff goal.



Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News

Frederic Cassivi’s hockey-first mentality allows no room for sentiment. Although tonight’s Game 4 of the Hershey Bears’ first-round playoff series with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton could be the final game of his storied Hershey and AHL career, Cassivi is focused on making history rather than reflecting upon it. “I don’t look at it as my last game,” Cassivi said. “I look at it as a game that we’re going to win. We go from there after that.” Cassivi is scheduled to start in goal at Giant Center. Hershey trails the best-of-seven series 3-0. “You tried to shake things up a little bit,” said Bears head coach Bob Woods, who started Daren Machesney in Game 3. “Didn’t work. So we’ll go back with the guy that has done it in the past. There’s probably nobody in our locker room who wants to win more than him.”




Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizen’s Voice

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – the ones who have been around for the last two springs, anyway – know the stories by heart by now. Last year, after the Penguins lost the first three games of the East Division finals to the Hershey Bears, coach Todd Richards talked about his 1999 Orlando Solar Bears rallied from 3-0 down to stun the Detroit Vipers in the International Hockey League playoffs. The year before that, with the Penguins in an identical hole against Hershey, coach Joe Mullen talked about how he and the Pittsburgh Penguins erased a 3-1 deficit to shock the Washington Capitals en route to the Stanley Cup in 1992. But now that the shoe is on the other foot and they hold a 3-0 lead on the Bears with a chance to complete the sweep tonight in Hershey, the Penguins didn’t spin those yarns after practice Tuesday at the Ice Box.



Rob Rossi, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In October, Todd Richards planned to be where he is today — a win away from advancing to the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs with his Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The coach never expected this journey to be so difficult. “Last season, it was the dual association (with Edmonton), but that was actually easier to deal with, looking back, than all the injury-related stuff this season,” Richards said. “It was difficult and hard, but I learned a lot about myself and the players, and I think once you get to this point, you can look back and be more satisfied, knowing everything we’ve gone through.” If Richards’ Penguins reach the Calder Cup quarterfinals – they hold a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 series heading into Game 4 at Hershey tonight – temptation to look back fondly upon an unlikely playoff run will prove hard to resist.




Chris Fitz Gerald, Troy Record

In perhaps their best period of the game, the River Rats did just about everything but finish in the final 20 minutes. Facing the latest pivotal encounter of their East Division semifinal series, the Rats came in with hopes of building a commanding lead against Philadelphia. Yet it was the Phantoms who frustrated the Rats this time as goalie Scott Munroe made 30 saves as Philadelphia held off Albany to prevail 2-1 on Tuesday in Game 4 of an opening-round American Hockey League playoff series at Times Union Center. “We didn’t play our game in the first or second period and coach (Tom Rowe) came in and kind of yelled at us a little bit,” said Rats left wing Joe Jensen. “We tried to respond in the third, but it was a little too late at that point.”




Lindsay Kramer, Syracuse Post-Standard

When Syracuse Crunch coach Ross Yates walked into his locker room after regulation on Tuesday night and told his team how the winning goal was going to be scored, Crunch forward Tom Sestito’s ears picked up. Yates said a dirty goal was going to decide the contest between Syracuse and Manitoba. That played right into the wheelhouse of Sestito, a rookie power forward who had the grit, if not quite the scorer’s confidence yet. “I didn’t know it was going to be me,” Sestito said. It was. Sestito tipped a shot by teammate Brett Motherwell past Moose goalie Cory Schneider 11 minutes into the extra session to give the Crunch a 2-1 gut-check win in Game 3 of the teams’ opening-round playoff series at MTS Centre.




Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle

Aeros goalie Barry Brust used many words to describe the Rockford IceHogs’ winning goal Tuesday night at Toyota Center. But only the last 12 of them painted the kind of picture needed to reflect the kind of game the Aeros played in a 2-1, Game 3 defeat. “It got squeezed like a zit in the back of the net,” said Brust, describing Derek Nesbitt’s goal with 2:46 left in the third period. Brust, who shut out the IceHogs in Game 2, looked strong again, but Nesbitt’s goal was a fine example of how a bad bounce can determine the fate of a playoff game. “They made a backdoor pass, got a shot off and the puck went behind the net,” said Brust (32 saves). “I think I had it, but it was jammed up against my skate and the post.”




Paul Betit, Portland Press-Herald

Rookie defenseman Brett Festerling was the right player in the right place at the right time Tuesday night for the Portland Pirates. Festerling knocked in a rebound five minutes into the third period for the winning goal as the Pirates closed out their first-round AHL playoff series with the Hartford Wolf Pack with a 3-2 win at the XL Center. It was the fourth consecutive playoff victory for Portland after the Wolf Pack opened the Atlantic Division semifinals with a 3-1 win in Hartford last Wednesday night. “I just liked the way we kept our composure and worked through some things and played a real solid round,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “We knew it was going to be a tough series against these guys. They have a good team and they played us well all year.”