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AHL Morning Skate: April 30

Every game day from now until the end of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the AHL Morning Skate takes 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.

Game 1 – MILWAUKEE 3, Houston 1 (MIL leads series, 1-0)

1. Veteran forward Steve Begin registered a goal and an assist to help Milwaukee to a 3-1 win over Houston in Game 1 of the West Division Finals.

2. Ryan Thang also posted a goal and a helper in the winning effort for the Admirals.

3. Milwaukee rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith earned his fifth victory of the postseason with 25 saves on 26 shots between the pipes.

Game 3 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05 (BNG leads series, 2-0)
Game 2 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 (CHA leads series, 1-0)


Playoff Bracket || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Portland Pirates vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 27 – Binghamton 3, PORTLAND 2
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Binghamton 5, PORTLAND 3
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 4 – Mon., May 2 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May 3 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 6 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., May 7 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Charlotte 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Mon., May 2 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 7 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Manitoba Moose

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – HAMILTON 4, Manitoba 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 4:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W2-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 29 – MILWAUKEE 3, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 10 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 3 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05 (BNG leads series, 2-0)
When Binghamton last played a home game on Apr. 20, it defeated Manchester in Game 5 of the division semifinals but still faced a 3-2 series hole… Now, the Senators are ready to take the Broome County Arena ice again after winning two straight in Manchester to capture that series and grabbing a 2-0 lead in the Atlantic Division Finals by way of victories on back-to-back nights at Portland… Senators forward Zack Smith leads all scorers with four points (2-2-4) in the series and has tallied a goal in each of the first two games after failing to score in the first-round triumph over Manchester… First-year pro Bobby Butler is riding a five-game goal-scoring streak (5-0-5) for the Senators, which is the longest such postseason run by an AHL rookie since Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Milan Kraft scored in six straight games during the 2011 playoffs… Kaspars Daugavins netted a pair of goals in Binghamton’s 5-3 win at Portland in Game 2 of the series… B-Sens forward Ryan Potulny is on a three-game scoring run 1-6-7) and continues to lead all AHL postseason skaters in both goals (8) and points (16) through nine contests… Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner has been between the pipes for all five games of Binghamton’s current winning streak, and the 19-year-old is coming off a 43-save effort in Game 2 on Thursday… The Senators, who have scored the first goal in just three of their first nine postseason games (2-1), are an impressive 4-2 when allowing it… Binghamton’s top-ranked regular-season power play is clicking at 20 percent (8-for-40) in the playoffs, and Portland’s penalty kill ranks last among the playoff teams (73.0 percent)… Pirates forward Mark Mancari netted two goals in Saturday’s loss and shows 4-3-7 in five AHL postseason appearances this year… Rookie Mark Voakes has a point in five of his last six games (2-3-5) for the Pirates, and AHL rookie of the year Luke Adam has found the scoresheet in three of his last four outings (1-2-3)… Portland goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who had been on NHL recall to Buffalo, took the loss in Game 2 in his first appearance for the Pirates since Mar. 1… This is the sixth time in team history that Portland has dropped the first two games of a best-of-7 series… The Pirates are 1-4 in the previous five instances, with the only series victory coming in the 2008 Atlantic Division Finals vs. Providence.

Game 2 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 (CHA leads series, 1-0)
Charlotte looks to make it two in a row on the road over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight when the teams return to Mohegan Sun Arena for Game 2 of the East Division Finals… The Checkers extended their overall winning streak to four games with a 3-2 triumph in Thursday’s series opener, marking the Penguins’ second home-ice loss in Game 1 in as many rounds this postseason… Wilkes-Barre is now 1-3 at Mohegan Sun Arena in the playoffs after racking up an AHL-best 30-10-0-0 home record during the regular season… The Checkers and Penguins each struck for two power play goals in Game 1, with Jon Matsumoto tallying both for Charlotte, and Geoff Walker and Brett Sterling striking for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Matsumoto, who recorded his fourth consecutive 20-goal regular season, did not score in Charlotte’s first-round win over Hershey… His marker at 5:03 of the third period – assisted by defenseman Justin Faulk and forward Drayson Bowman – stood up to be the game-winner on Thursday… AHL All-Rookie forward Zac Dalpe rounded out the Checkers’ offense with his team-leading fourth goal of the postseason… Dalpe, who has a point in six of his first seven playoff games this year, is averaging a point per game (7-8-15 in 15 games) over his two-year Calder Cup Playoff career… Former first-round draft pick Zach Boychuk has begun his playoff run on a seven-game scoring streak (3-5-8) for the Checkers, and Brett Sutter has a point in his last three outings (2-2-4)… Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy is 4-0 (1.99, .938) in four outings since taking the loss in his AHL postseason debut on Apr. 19 vs. Hershey… Thus far in the playoffs, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has combined for three goals in its three losses and 14 goals in its four wins… The Penguins are 4-0 when scoring the game’s first goal and 0-3 when allowing it… Sterling had produced four assists in the first round prior to notching his first goal of the playoffs on Thursday… Wilkes-Barre’s Tim Wallace has posted four points (1-3-4) in his last two contests, and Walker shows three points (1-2-3) in that span… The Penguins have outscored opponents by a combined 14-6 margin in the first and third periods this postseason, but they have been outscored 8-3 in the second period.


Steve Begin‘s only multi-point game of the season and Ryan Ellis‘ assist in his first game with the Admirals helped Milwaukee to a 3-1 victory Friday against Houston in Game 1 of the best-of-seven West Division finals. "We talked about it all season and certainly in the playoffs here, we need scoring by committee and we need secondary scoring," Milwaukee coach Lane Lambert said.

So far in this year’s Calder Cup playoffs, the Aeros have spotted the opposition the first goal of the game, and that trend didn’t change in Friday’s series-opening 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals. What did change in the opening game of the West Division final series was that the Aeros failed to rally after falling behind.

The Portland Pirates hoped to earn at least a split at home before heading west to New York to continue their second-round playoff series against the Binghamton Senators. Instead, they now have to dig themselves out of a hole and hope to change the direction of the American Hockey League Atlantic Division finals. Down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series after a pair of losses at the Cumberland County Civic Center, the Pirates enter Game 3 with a stronger sense of urgency.

Of all the lessons the Binghamton Senators learned in their first-round Calder Cup playoff victory, the most important might be that a hockey series is never over until it’s actually in the books. The B-Sens host the Portland Pirates in Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Finals at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, and they see their rally past the Manchester Monarchs in the first round as a cautionary tale against overconfidence.

For a team that hadn’t made the AHL postseason in six years, the Binghamton Senators sure gave their playoff-starved fans a first-round series for the ages, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to oust the Manchester Monarchs. That might be enough excitement for fans, but the Ottawa Senators organization also has to be pleased that numerous players who logged heavy minutes with the big club in 2010-11 are contributing to Binghamton’s playoff run.

THREE WAYS TO AVOID 0-2 HOLE – Citizens’ Voice
Andrew Hutchinson has appeared in 13 Calder Cup playoff series in his nine-year pro career, so he knows a thing or two about how the game is played at this time of the year. He knows the Penguins pulled off a rare, impressive feat when they rallied from an 0-2 hole to eliminate the Norfolk Admirals in six games in the first round of the playoffs. He also knows the Penguins would be well served not to rely on a daredevil act like that again.

One of the organization’s top prospects, defenseman Philip Samuelsson, is practicing with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on an amateur tryout. A second-round pick in the 2009 NHL draft, Samuelsson signed an entry-level contract with Pittsburgh earlier this month after his sophomore season at Boston College ended. "They’re in the middle of a playoff run, so I don’t want to be in the way too much," Samuelsson said. "I’m extremely excited to be here and see what everything’s about and meet some of the staff and some of the players to get ready for next year."

WBS WANTS TO DIG DEEPER – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Never mind the fact that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins dropped the first two games against Norfolk and went on to win the next four and, ultimately, the series. They don’t want to take a similar path after losing Game 1 of the East Division Finals to the Charlotte Checkers on Thursday. Simply put, losing the first two this time around is not an option for the Penguins.

Zac Dalpe is scoring some big goals for the Charlotte Checkers in the Calder Cup playoffs and Mike Murphy has been stellar in net. To succeed in playoff hockey, a team needs its stars to play like stars and to have confidence in its goaltending. So it has been for the Checkers, who topped the Hershey Bears in the first round of the AHL playoffs and edged the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-2 Thursday in Game 1 of the East Division finals.

Claude Noel had already vented. He had fumed. He’d stewed. But on the morning after, the head coach of the Manitoba Moose sat in a tiny room in the bowels of Copps Coliseum, avoiding all contact with the players he had publicly ripped the night before. "It is what it is," Noel said with a shrug. "The players have to figure it out. I don’t imagine they’re very happy. I haven’t spoken to them today (Friday) and I don’t plan to."

Bad enough there is already a couple of Winnipeggers on the Hamilton Bulldogs stalking the Manitoba Moose and taking their limit. Now along comes Brandon’s Ryan White, fresh off a I’ll-never-forget-it playoff stint with the fabled Montreal Canadiens, added to the Bulldogs’ arsenal for Game 2 of the best-of-seven AHL North Division final on Sunday.

The weather in Hamilton on Friday was cool, windy and wet. “It’s about as great as we feel,” a downtrodden Claude Noel said over the phone from Steeltown. The Manitoba Moose head coach was still perturbed about his team’s performance in Game 1 of the North Division final against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday night. The Moose gave up two power-play goals on 10 opportunities and lost 4-1.

In last night’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, Benn Ferriero, who posted 16-17-33 in 43 regular-season AHL games for Worcester this year, celebrated his 24th birthday by tallying his first career NHL playoff goal at 7:03 of overtime as San Jose rallied for a 2-1 win over Detroit in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal… Steve Downie posted a goal and an assist as Tampa Bay doubled up Washington, 4-2, in the opener of that series.

6 – Goals scored by Binghamton in the first period of its nine postseason games to date.

27 – Goals scored by Binghamton from the second period on.

April 30, 2005Chuck Kobasew scores twice, Eric Staal records three assists and Cam Ward makes 40 saves as the Lowell Lock Monsters eliminate Hartford with a 3-0 win in Game 6.

April 30, 1997Sheldon Souray scores 16:08 into overtime as Albany opens its second-round series with a 3-2 win at Rochester.

April 30, 1993 – The Binghamton Rangers (124 pts.) avoid the biggest upset in AHL history with a 5-3 win over head coach Barry Trotz’s Baltimore Skipjacks (68 pts.) in Game 7 of their division semifinal… Byron Dafoe makes 47 saves in the loss.

April 30, 1989 – Adam Graves scores 10:31 into overtime as Adirondack beats Hershey, 2-1, to become the second team in AHL history to rally from an 0-3 series deficit and advance.

April 30, 1967 – The Hornets win their final AHL game in Pittsburgh, capturing the Calder Cup on Billy Harris’s overtime goal against Rochester at the Civic Arena.

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