AHL Morning Skate: April 24

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
@TheHersheyBears | @WorcesterSharks | #HERvsWOR

The Hershey Bears begin their 65th appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference, taking on the #7 seed Worcester Sharks… The Bears have not won a playoff series since the 2010 Finals, losing in the first round three times before missing the postseason entirely last spring… The Sharks have reached the playoffs for the first time since 2010, when they advanced to the second round before losing to Manchester… Bears forward Tim Kennedy, who had 68 points in 72 games for Worcester from 2011-13, finished fourth in the AHL in assists and led Hershey in regular-season scoring (11-48-59)… Casey Wellman (25-29-54) and Stanislav Galiev (25-20-45) tied for the Bears team lead in goals… Rookie Pheonix Copley was 17-4-3 (2.17, .925) in his 26 regular-season appearances, including 14-1-3 in his last 18 decisions, but allowed five goals on 28 shots in his only start vs. Worcester (Nov. 1)… Sharks captain Bryan Lerg led the team in scoring (13-28-41), and Micheal Haley (18-13-31) was tops in both goals and penalty minutes (106)… Worcester rookie Aaron Dell (15-8-2) finished fifth in the AHL in goals-against average (2.06) and fourth in save percentage (.927).

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “B” (best-of-5)
2-Hershey Bears vs. 7-Worcester Sharks
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Hershey at Worcester, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Hershey at Worcester, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – Worcester at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – Worcester at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 3 – Worcester at Hershey, 5:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 7:05 ET, AHL Live
@SyracuseCrunch | @WBSPenguins | #WBSvsSYR
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opens its 13th consecutive postseason appearance — the longest active streak in the AHL — by hosting Syracuse in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal tonight… The Penguins have won at least one series in 11 of their previous 12 playoff trips, including trips to the conference finals in both 2013 (where they lost to the Crunch) and 2014… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 25-7-2-1 over its final 35 games in the regular season, tying an AHL record with its 10th straight 40-win campaign… The Penguins also led the AHL in goals against (163) for the third year in a row and the fourth time in five seasons under head coach John Hynes… Matt Murray (25-10-3) had a storybook campaign, earning both the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award (top rookie) and the Baz Bastien Memorial Award (top goaltender) while leading the league with a 1.58 GAA, a .941 save percentage and 12 shutouts… Murray’s GAA and shutouts were both the second-best single-season marks in AHL history… Rookie Conor Sheary, who had 6-5-11 in 15 playoff games for the Penguins last spring, led Wilkes-Barre in regular-season scoring with 20-25-45… Jonathan Marchessault (24-43-67) and Yanni Gourde (29-28-57) were Syracuse’s top producers in 2014-15… The Crunch lost nine of their last 10 to close out the regular season, but were 3-0-1-0 against the Penguins on the year.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “D” (best-of-5)
4-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. 5-Syracuse Crunch

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 30 – W-B/Scranton at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 2 – 8:00 ET, AHL Live (UTI leads series, 1-0)
@UticaComets | @Chicago_Wolves | #UTIvsCHI

After Bobby Sanguinetti‘s goal in double overtime gave Utica the 1-0 series lead on Wednesday, the Comets visit Chicago again for Game 2 of their series tonight… Sanguinetti had scored three overtime goals for the Comets in the regular season, one off the AHL lead… Rookie Hunter Shinkaruk had a goal and an assist for Utica in Game 1, and former Wolves forward Nicklas Jensen also scored for the Comets, his third goal in as many career AHL playoff games… Magnus Paajarvi, who had two goals in 14 games during the 2012 postseason with Oklahoma City, scored twice in Game 1 for Chicago, including the tying goal at 19:59 of the third period… Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves in the win for the Comets; Markstrom has been the winning goalie in each of the last two double-OT games played at Allstate Arena (also Apr. 27, 2012, with San Antonio)… Jordan Binnington made his playoff debut in net for the Wolves and stopped 40 shots, including 13 in overtime… Chicago has never lost a first-round Calder Cup Playoff series under head coach John Anderson (7-0).

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “E” (best-of-5)
1-Utica Comets vs. 8-Chicago Wolves

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Utica 3, CHICAGO 2 (2OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Utica at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – Chicago at Utica, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – Chicago at Utica, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Chicago at Utica, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 8:30 ET, AHL Live
@GoIceHogs | @TexasStars | #RFDvsTEX
Rockford set franchise bests with 46 wins and 99 points in the regular season, and the IceHogs’ reward is a first-round matchup with the defending Calder Cup champions… The IceHogs are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, and are looking to snap a 10-game postseason losing streak in Game 1 tonight… Rockford went 17-5-1-0 over the last two months of the regular season… Spencer Abbott (19-26-45), who had 12-9-21 in 19 games with the IceHogs after coming over from Toronto, notched 4-4-8 in seven games vs. Texas during last year’s Western Conference Finals while with the Marlies… Michael Leighton (22-13-4, 2.26, .920), who reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, is in the AHL postseason for the first time since 2008; seven years ago tonight (Apr. 24, 2008), Leighton made 98 saves for the Albany River Rats in a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phantoms in the longest AHL game ever played (2:58 of the 5th OT)… Travis Morin, the MVP of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs, led the Stars again in scoring in 2014-15 (22-41-63)… Texas won 15 of its last 19 games to secure the #5 seed in the Western Conference… The Stars ranked third in the AHL on the power play (20.0 percent) and fourth in penalty killing (86.9 percent) in 2014-15… The IceHogs swept the four-game season series between the teams… The last time Rockford won a playoff game (May 9, 2008), its lineup included Corey Crawford, Troy Brouwer, Kris Versteeg, Bryan Bickell and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “H” (best-of-5)
4-Rockford IceHogs vs. 5-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Rockford at Texas, 8:30
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Rockford at Texas, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – Texas at Rockford, 8:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – Texas at Rockford, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Texas at Rockford, 8:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

About Last Night…
Ryan Hamilton scored the go-ahead goal with 5:55 left in regulation, part of a four-goal third-period outburst to lead Oklahoma City to a 5-2 win over San Antonio in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series last night… With the Rampage up 2-1, Joshua Winquist tied the score at 10:22 of the third before Hamilton netted the winner… Connor Jones and Matthew Ford added empty-netters for the Barons… First Team AHL All-Star defenseman Brad Hunt had a goal and an assist, and Laurent Brossoit made 29 saves in his AHL playoff debut… Vincent Trocheck and Rocco Grimaldi scored for the Rampage… Manchester got two goals apiece from AHL MVP Brian O’Neill and Second Team AHL All-Star Jordan Weal en route to a 5-2 win over Portland in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal… O’Neill and Weal combined for four of the Monarchs’ five goals and 13 of their 23 shots… Vincent LoVerde added a goal and two assists for Manchester.

Back Again
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are making their 13th consecutive trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the longest active streak in the league… Here are the all-time longest streaks of postseason appearances:

24 — Cleveland Barons, 1940-41 to 1963-64
17 — Hershey Bears, 1960-61 to 1976-77
16 — Rochester Americans, 1989-90 to 2004-05
15 — Montreal/Nova Scotia Voyageurs, 1969-70 to 1983-84
14 — Adirondack Red Wings, 1985-86 to 1998-99
13 — Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 2002-03 to present

Alumni Watch
Tyler Johnson, a Calder Cup champion in 2012 and the AHL’s MVP in 2012-13, scored two goals, including the overtime winner, and assisted on Ondrej Palat‘s equalizer late in regulation as Tampa Bay rallied for a 3-2 win over Detroit in Game 4 last night… Karl Alzner, a Calder Cup winner in 2009 and 2010, netted the game-winning goal and added an assist as Washington defeated the N.Y. Islanders, 5-1, to take a 3-2 series lead… Filip Forsberg‘s first NHL hat trick led Nashville past Chicago, 5-2, to stave off elimination in Game 5… Forsberg had 15-19-34 in 47 AHL games with Milwaukee last season… Vancouver also avoided elimination in Game 5, getting 20 saves from two-time AHL All-Star Ryan Miller in a 2-1 win over Calgary… Binghamton Senators alum Mark Stone was voted one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding rookie for 2014-15.

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.