AHL Morning Skate: April 24, 2024

A3-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. A6-Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Game 1 – Tonight, 7:05 ET,

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 24 – Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley, 7:05
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton, 5:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

For the first time in 16 years, the Penguins and Phantoms face off in the Calder Cup Playoffs when the puck drops for Game 1 in Wilkes-Barre tonight... The in-state rivals met four times in eight postseasons between 2001 and 2008 (when the Phantoms were based in Philadelphia), with the winner of each series eventually reaching the Calder Cup Finals... Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 8-1-2-1 against Lehigh Valley this season, including wins in each of the last five meetings... The teams staged their entire 12-game season series between Jan. 6 and Apr. 20... Penguins forward Vinnie Hinostroza led all scorers with 11 points (3g, 8a) against the Phantoms, and finished the regular season with points in eight straight games overall... Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie Joel Blomqvist, a Second Team AHL All-Star in 2023-24, was 6-1-2 (2.10, .929) in nine appearances vs. Lehigh Valley... The Phantoms are looking for their first series win since advancing to the conference finals in 2018... Cooper Marody led Lehigh Valley in scoring with 56 points, his highest output since tallying 19-45-64 as a rookie in 2018-19... The Phantoms did not have a 20-goal scorer for the first time in a full season since 2006-07, but eight skaters hit double digits – led by Marody and Olle Lycksell with 19 each... The Penguins had one of the AHL’s top defenses this season, ranking fourth in goals allowed and second in penalty killing.

A4-Charlotte Checkers vs. A5-Hartford Wolf Pack
Game 1 – Thursday, 7:00 ET,

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 25 – Hartford at Charlotte, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Hartford at Charlotte, 4:00
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Hartford at Charlotte, 4:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

N4-Belleville Senators vs. N5-Toronto Marlies
Game 1 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 24 – Toronto at Belleville, 7:00
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Belleville at Toronto, 7:00
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Toronto at Belleville, 3:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

A Calder Cup Playoff version of the Battle of Ontario gets underway tonight as Belleville hosts Toronto in Game 1 of their North Division first-round series... This is the first-ever postseason meeting between the AHL affiliates of the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been provincial rivals in the NHL since 1992... Belleville was five points behind Toronto and four points out of a playoff spot on the morning of March 30; the Sens finished the regular season by winning eight of their final nine games to claim fourth place and home-ice advantage in this best-of-three series with the Marlies... Wyatt Bongiovanni had six goals and two assists over his last six regular-season games for Belleville, and had 10 points in 14 games after joining the Senators organization in a March 15 trade with Winnipeg... Garrett Pilon, a Calder Cup winner with Hershey last spring, led the B-Sens in scoring with 47 points (18g, 29a), followed closely by Angus Crookshank (24-22-46) and Egor Sokolov (21-25-46)... Joseph Blandisi (25-34-59), former Belleville captain Logan Shaw (30-28-58) and AHL All-Star Alex Steeves (27-30-57) were Toronto’s top scorers this season... The Marlies have won at least one series in each of their last five postseason appearances, including three trips to the conference finals and their Calder Cup title in 2018.

N2-Rochester Americans vs. N3-Syracuse Crunch
Game 1 – Friday, 7:05 ET,

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Syracuse at Rochester, 7:05
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Syracuse at Rochester, 3:05
Game 3 – Thu., May 2 – Rochester at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 4 – Sat., May 4 – Rochester at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 10 – Syracuse at Rochester, 7:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

C4-Texas Stars vs. C5-Manitoba Moose
Game 2 – Thursday, 8:00 ET,
(Texas leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 23 – TEXAS 6, Manitoba 3 | Recap
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 25 – Manitoba at Texas, 8:00
*Game 3 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Manitoba at Texas, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

C2-Grand Rapids Griffins vs. C3-Rockford IceHogs
Game 1 – Saturday, 8:00 ET,

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Grand Rapids at Rockford, 8:00
Game 2 – Wed., May 1 – Rockford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 3 – Fri., May 3 – Rockford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 4 – Sun., May 5 – Grand Rapids at Rockford, 5:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 10 – Rockford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

P2-Tucson Roadrunners vs. P7-Calgary Wranglers
Game 1 – Tonight, 10:00 ET,

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 24 – Calgary at Tucson, 10:00
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Calgary at Tucson, 10:00
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Calgary at Tucson, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Tucson hosts Calgary in Game 1 of their Pacific Division first-round series tonight at Tucson Arena... The Roadrunners finished the regular season on a 6-0-1-0 run to secure second place in the division, their best showing since finishing first in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 campaign... Tucson was led in scoring this season by AHL All-Rookie forward Josh Doan (26-20-46), who closed his regular season by recording nine points in 11 games with the parent Arizona Coyotes... Doan was one of six Roadrunners to make his NHL debut with the Coyotes in the last two months, joining Aku Räty, Max Szuber, Cam Crotty, Patrik Koch and Matt Villalta... Villalta (31-17-3, 2.54, .911) led the AHL in wins and minutes played (3,048) during the regular season... Second-year pro Adam Klapka (21-25-46) led Calgary in scoring in 2023-24, surpassing his rookie-year totals in goals, assists and points... Klapka also racked up four goals and four assists in four games against the Roadrunners this season... All-Star rookie Matt Coronato notched 42 points in 41 games with the Wranglers, in addition to nine points in 34 NHL contests with the Flames... Calgary was 18-13-4-1 on the road this season; Tucson was 22-11-2-1 at home.

P3-Ontario Reign vs. P6-Bakersfield Condors
Game 1 – Tonight, 10:00 ET,

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 24 – Bakersfield at Ontario, 10:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Ontario at Bakersfield, 10:00
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Bakersfield at Ontario, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

While Edmonton and Los Angeles meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their AHL affiliates square off as Bakersfield visits Ontario in Game 1 at Toyota Arena tonight... Only seven points separated the third-place Reign from the sixth-place Condors in the Pacific Division standings... Second Team AHL All-Star Samuel Fagemo finished second in the AHL with 43 goals despite playing just 50 games for Ontario, and led the league with 19 power-play goals and 10 game-winning tallies... T.J. Tynan (9-57-66) joined AHL Hall of Famer Art Stratton as the only players to lead the league in assists three years in a row, as well as four times in their careers... Seth Griffith (15-48-63) paced the Condors’ offense in 2023-24, the sixth time in his career that he has led his team in scoring... Raphael Lavoie scored a team-best 28 goals for Bakersfield, including 14 on the power play... Ontario went 19-4-0-1 over the final two months of the regular season; one of those regulation losses was a 4-0 defeat in Bakersfield on Mar. 16... This is the first-ever Calder Cup Playoff series between the Reign and Condors.

P4-Colorado Eagles vs. P5-Abbotsford Canucks
Game 1 – Tonight, 9:05 ET,

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 24 – Abbotsford at Colorado, 9:05
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 26 – Abbotsford at Colorado, 9:05
*Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Abbotsford at Colorado, 5:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern

After securing fourth place and home ice on the final day of the regular season, Colorado hosts Abbotsford in Game 1 of their first-round series tonight... The Eagles and Canucks finished with identical records of 40-25-5-2, with Colorado taking the tiebreaker by virtue of having more regulation wins (34-29)... The Eagles scored 20 goals over their final four regular-season games, closing out with a 6-3 win over Ontario on Sunday afternoon... Two of Colorado’s top four point-getters were defensemen, with Brad Hunt (16-33-49) leading the team in scoring and Jack Ahcan (6-32-38) finishing fourth... Riley Tufte (23-22-45) paced the Eagles in goals, scoring twice in Sunday’s regular-season finale... Abbotsford, meanwhile, went 9-1-1-0 over its final 11 games to secure fifth place by just three points over Bakersfield... Linus Karlsson posted 7-5-12 over his last nine games and led the Canucks with 60 points for the season... Abbotsford ranked third in the AHL on the penalty kill during the regular season at 85.0 percent, including 26-for-27 (96.3%) in eight games against the Eagles... Colorado, meanwhile, was fourth on the PK at 84.4 percent and finished fifth in goals against.

With Justus Annunen and Thatcher Demko unavailable for their parent clubs, the goaltending picture is in flux for the Colorado Eagles and Abbotsford Canucks as they open their Pacific Division First Round series tonight.

Eagles netminder Ivan Prosvetov was recalled by the Colorado Avalanche and backed up Alexandar Georgiev in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets last night. Prosvetov joined the Eagles in February and went 11-7-2 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. With Prosvetov with the Avalanche, the Eagles got back Arvid Holm, who had backed up in Game 1 on Sunday.

But Abbotsford has its own goaltending upheaval.

Artūrs Šilovs and Nikita Tolopilo are both with Vancouver, leaving Zach Sawchenko in the AHL Canucks’ crease. Sawchenko made only six appearances for Abbotsford this season, going 4-1-0 with a 2.12 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Should he play in Game 1 tonight, it would be his Calder Cup Playoff debut.

Abbotsford has also added goaltender Jonathan Lemieux. The 22-year-old first-year-pro has spent the season with Kalamazoo in the ECHL.

The Calgary Wranglers finished seventh in the Pacific Division, but they have some fortifications coming heading into their first-round series with Tucson.

To start, there is Dustin Wolf in net. The two-time AHL goaltender of the year and 2022-23 league MVP played 17 games in the NHL with the parent Flames this season; in addition, he went 20-12-3 in 36 appearances with the Wranglers, posting a 2.45 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

Matt Coronato and leading scorer Adam Klapka are also back from the Flames, along with blueliner Ilya Solovyov. And a trio of highly regarded prospects are just in from the Canadian Hockey League as well, starting with forward Sam Honzek, the 16th overall pick in last June’s NHL draft. Honzek, 19, made his AHL debut with the Wranglers last week. Defenseman Hunter Brzustewicz, 19, was acquired from Vancouver in the Elias Lindholm trade in January and was a third-round draft pick in 2023. And Etienne Morin, also 19, was a second-rounder in 2023 who had 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) in 58 contests with Moncton of the Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League.

“All you’ve got to do is get there.”

Those were Toronto Marlies captain Logan Shaw’s words to the team website as the club geared up for Game 1 of their North Division First Round series at Belleville.

The 11th-year pro is still in pursuit of his first Calder Cup, with just 14 postseason games at the AHL level to his name. So is ninth-year forward Joseph Blandisi, whose longest Calder Cup Playoff run came when he was a rookie in the New Jersey Devils organization in 2016.

Shaw, a 30-goal scorer this season for the third time in his AHL career, is hungry. Blandisi, the team’s leading scorer with 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) in 70 contests, wants more as well. Last season the Marlies finished first in the North Division in the regular season. Those Calder Cup hopes vanished in a division finals sweep by Rochester, but it’s a new year and the Marlies are excited.

Toronto cut it close this season, landing fifth in the North Division, but it still earned them their first-ever Battle of Ontario series with the Belleville Senators. That should be an extra bit of incentive to a roster that Blandisi says already is eager.

“I just think the energy we had all year was amazing, and we’re excited for this time of the year,” Blandisi told marlies.ca. “We’ve been waiting for this for quite some time now, and we’re excited to get it going.”

― with files from Patrick Williams

In last night’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, Carter Verhaeghe’s fifth career playoff overtime goal gave Florida a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay... Vincent Trocheck and Mika Zibanejad each had a goal and an assist as the New York Rangers defeated Washington, 4-3... Alexandar Georgiev made 28 saves to backstop Colorado to a 5-2 win at Winnipeg... Filip Forsberg notched a goal and an assist for Nashville in their 4-1 win over Vancouver.

Watch the Calder Cup Playoffs on AHLTV
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2024 Calder Cup championship. AHLTV features live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as OTT platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. A subscription is just $29.99 to watch every game for the entire postseason, or just $8.99 for a day pass. Visit AHLTV.com for details.