AHL Morning Skate: Bears, Pens renew playoff rivalry

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.

MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1 (MTB leads series, 1-0)

1. Alexandre Bolduc netted a goal and assisted on the game-winner as Manitoba took a 2-1 win over Grand Rapids to open the North Division Finals.

2. Jimmy Howard made 32 saves in the Game 1 loss for the Griffins.

3. Moose goaltender Cory Schneider stopped 21 of 22 shots in the winning effort.

Game 1 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00 (HOU leads series, 1-0)
Game 2 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30 (MTB leads series, 1-0)

CC09rd2_160x600.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Worcester Sharks
|| Preview
Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 28 – PROVIDENCE 3, Worcester 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Wed., May 6 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
Game 3 – Fri., May 8 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 11 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 13 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Thu., May 14 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins
|| Preview
Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., May 3 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 6 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Fri., May 8 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins
|| Preview
Game 1 – Fri., May 1 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 3 – Mon., May 4 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 6 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 8 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30

West Division Finals – Series
“L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 1 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
Intra-state rivals Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey are set to battle in Game 1 of the East Division Finals tonight at the Giant Center… The Bears and Penguins are squaring off in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, and the winner of the previous three clashes has gone on to reach the Calder Cup Finals… Hershey (3.70 goals per game) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (3.43) were the AHL’s top two scoring teams during the regular season… The Bears outscored Philadelphia 14-6 in capturing a four-game sweep in the division semifinals… AHL MVP Alexandre Giroux tallied two game-winners and led the way with six points (2-4-6), while rookie Mathieu Perreault (2-2-4) and defenseman Staffan Kronwall (2-0-2) also netted a pair of goals in the series… Rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopped 103 of 109 shots during the series (1.50, .945) and recorded a shutout… The Bears’ penalty kill, which ranked 29th during the regular season, was a perfect 22-for-22 against the Phantoms… The Penguins’ power play went 9-for-21 for an AHL-best 42.9 percent conversion rate in a five-game opening-round ouster of Bridgeport… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is making its sixth straight appearance in the division finals… Chris Minard paces the Pens with five goals (5-2-7), and he’s tied with Jean-Michel Daoust (3-4-7) and Jeff Taffe (3-4-7) at seven points apiece… Rookie Dustin Jeffrey has scored three of his four goals thus far (4-1-5) on the power play… The Penguins are just 8-12 in Game 1’s of Calder Cup Playoff series.

Game 2 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00 (HOU leads series, 1-0)
Houston goes for a 2-0 series lead when it returns to the Bradley Center tonight for Game 2 of the West Division Finals… The Aeros eked out a 2-1 victory in the opener on Thursday and improved to 3-2 on the road this postseason… Defenseman Tomas Mojzis and forward Krys Kolanos netted goals for the Aeros in Game 1, and rookie goaltender Anton Khudobin made 27 saves on 28 shots… Khudobin improved to 5-3 in the playoffs and has surrendered two or fewer goals in six of his last seven outings for Houston… Corey Locke has found the scoresheet in six straight games (3-5-8) and leads the Aeros with four goals and 10 points in eight playoff games thus far… Houston went 1-for-5 on the power play in the opener and ranks second in the AHL with the man advantage this postseason (30.6 percent)… Andreas Thuresson netted the Admirals’ lone Game 1 goal with just 2:46 to go in regulation… Goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 22 shots for Milwaukee, which suffered its first loss of the playoffs after earning a four-game sweep of Rockford in the division semifinals… The Admirals held a 13-3 shots advantage during the third period on Thursday… Of Milwaukee’s 15 Calder Cup Playoff series all-time, this marked just the fourth time the Admirals dropped Game 1… The Ads hold a 1-2 series record when they lose the opener.

Game 2 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30 (MTB leads series, 1-0)
After rallying for a 2-1 victory on Friday, Manitoba welcomes Grand Rapids back to the MTS Centre tonight for Game 2 of the North Division Finals… The Moose snapped a three-game losing skid in Game 1’s on Friday and won for the first time this season after allowing the game’s first goal (1-2)… Manitoba has captured five straight victories overall since a 2-1 loss to Toronto on Apr. 19 in Game 3 of the division semifinals… Alexandre Bolduc scored a power play goal and assisted on captain Mike Keane’s game-winner on Friday for Manitoba, with both goals coming 1:39 apart early in the third period to erase a 1-0 deficit… Manitoba goaltender Cory Schneider made 21 saves and is now 5-2 (1.84, .929) on the postseason… Griffins rookie Francis Pare tallied his first career Calder Cup Playoff goal with 1:56 to play in the opening period, with Jason Jozsa and Jan Mursak picking up the assists… Grand Rapids leading playoff scorers Ville Leino (3-10-13), Darren Haydar (4-6-10), and Justin Abdelkader (6-2-8) were all held without a point in Game 1… Grand Rapids is now just 2-2 this postseason when talking a lead into the third period, including an overtime loss to Hamilton in the first round; the Griffins were 32-1-3-3 in that situation during the regular season… The Moose also took Game 1 when these teams clashed in the 2007 and 2006 playoffs, but Grand Rapids came back to capture Game 2 on both occasions.


Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
Persistence was required and ultimately rewarded. The Manitoba Moose ran into another hot goaltender in Jimmy Howard, but solved him before it was too late as they rallied from a 1-0 deficit to earn a 2-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins before a crowd of 7,572 at the MTS Centre last night. With the win, the Moose hold serve and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven AHL North Division final. “We’ve learned that lesson to stick with it," said Moose head coach Scott Arniel.

Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press

For a man who has scored a Game 7 winner deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs it’s tough to call a goal big. Mike Keane will tell you his third-per¬iod marker on Friday night was size large. He’ll save extra-large for another moment, but large is nice just the same. Keane popped the winner for his Manitoba Moose in a 2-1 Game 1 vic¬tory over the Grand Rapids Griffins in this best-of-seven North Division Final before 7,572 customers at the MTS Centre. Keane’s goal came after his club had trailed for a good portion of the night and needed to be preserved for a major chunk of the third period.

Michael Zuidema, Grand Rapids Press

If Ryan Oulahen had his way, he’d be skating alongside his Grand Rapids Griffins teammates as they work their way through the postseason. But he was forced to find another way to contribute. A dislocated hip ended his season March 27, so he spent the Griffins’ first-round series against the Hamilton Bulldogs on the bench alongside coach Curt Fraser and assistant coach Jim Paek. "It’s kind of a bittersweet thing. Bitter, obviously, because I can’t be out there playing," Oulahen said. "But it’s great to be able to be on the bench and still feel like I have a purpose. "It makes me feel like maybe I’m making a little bit of a difference."

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
Regardless of the end result in what figures to be an epic match-up between the Manitoba Moose and Grand Rapids Griffins, the most inspirational person in this series won’t score a goal, block a shot or make a remarkable save. That person won’t even set foot on the ice. But her impact will most certainly be felt. Sara Schuster is a 25-year-old who is winning her battle with throat cancer. That’s inspiration in itself, but Schuster also happens to be the girlfriend of Griffins forward Darren Haydar.

Jonathan Bombulie, Citizens’ Voice
One of the big reasons the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins had so much such success against the Hershey Bears this season, going 7-2-0-1 against their intrastate rivals, is that they owned the third period in the season series. In the 10 meetings between the teams, the Penguins outscored Hershey, 15-8, in the third period. Break it down further and the advantage becomes even more pronounced. Since New Year’s Day, the Penguins have outscored Hershey, 12-3, in the third period of the seven games they’ve played. “It’s been a point of success for us all year,” coach Todd Reirden said.

Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
It seems rather appropriate that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are facing the Hershey Bears in the East Division Final. It’s almost like it was destined that the two teams would meet at some point in the postseason. But in reality, the Penguins and Bears are simply following in the footsteps of their NHL parent clubs. The similarities between the two series extend far beyond opponents and into bitter personal battles that have placed the Penguins-Bears and Penguins-Capitols among the top rivalries in their respective leagues.

Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Andrew Gordon doesn’t view his 2007-08 playoff performance against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins as his coming-out party as a professional hockey player. To second-year winger Gordon, it was more like another rung on a ladder he hopes will lead to the NHL. "The intensity sort of picks up and that was my first taste of pro playoffs, and I think it sort of energized me a little bit," Gordon said. "I wanted to prove I can play in the playoffs." Gordon’s performance was a bright spot in a first-round series Hershey lost in five games. The then-rookie led the Bears in scoring with three goals and two assists. As the Bears and Baby Penguins open the East Division finals tonight at Giant Center, a repeat effort by Gordon would be a boon to Hershey’s chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.

1998 AHL All-Star Marc Savard scored twice, while 2003 Calder Cup finalist Michael Ryder (1-1-2) and David Krejci added goals as Boston took a 4-1 win over Carolina on Friday to open their Eastern Conference semifinal… Ryan Getzlaf posted a pair of assists, but Anaheim dropped Game 1 of its Western Conference semifinal to Detroit by a 3-2 count yesterday… 2003 AHL coach of the year Claude Julien and 2003 Calder Cup champion Todd McLellan were named as finalists on Friday for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year.

Peter Regin, who put up 47 points in 56 AHL games for Binghamton this season, netted the game-winning goal on Friday in Denmark’s 3-1 victory over Germany at the IIHF World Championships in Switzerland… 2004-05 AHL All-Rookie forward Thomas Vanek registered three points (1-2-3) as Austria grabbed a 6-0 win over Hungary… David Backes tallied three points (1-2-3) and Kyle Okposo added a goal and an assist to help the United States past France by a 6-2 count on Friday.

6 – Consecutive one-goal games played by Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to close their regular-season series… The Bears and Penguins meet in Game 1 of the East Division Finals tonight at Giant Center; the series openers for the Atlantic, North, and West Division Finals have each already been decided by a one-goal margin.

May 2, 2008Bobby Ryan ties the game with 57 seconds left in regulation and Brendan Mikkelson scores 5:20 into overtime as Portland stuns Providence, 4-3, to cut its series deficit in the Atlantic Division Finals to 2-1.

May 2, 2003Trent Hunter scores with 21.4 seconds left in regulation to give Bridgeport a 3-2 win over Binghamton and even their conference semifinal series at 2-2.

May 2, 2000 – Roberto Luongo makes 38 saves in a losing effort as Providence completes a four-game sweep of Lowell with a 6-3 victory.

May 2, 1999 – Evgeni Nabokov’s 19-save shutout propels Kentucky into the second round with a 2-0 victory in a decisive Game 5 vs. Hershey.

May 2, 1995 – Donald Brashear records a hat trick to lead Fredericton to a 7-2 win over the P.E.I. Senators.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2009 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live continues to bring AHL action to your computer all postseason long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.

# # #