AHL Morning Skate: Bulldogs host Griffins in Game 6

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.

WORCESTER 5, Hartford 3 (WOR wins series, 4-2)
MANITOBA 4, Toronto 2 (MTB wins series, 4-2)
PEORIA 2, Houston 1 (Series tied, 3-3)

1. Dan DaSilva scored two goals and assisted on another as Worcester finished off a first-round upset of Hartford with a 5-3 win in Game 6.

2. Matt Pope had a goal and an assist in a three-goal third period as Manitoba rallied past Toronto, 4-2, and wrapped up a series victory.

3. Manny Legace helped Peoria force a Game 7 against Houston with 28 saves in the Rivermen’s 2-1 win last night.

Game 6 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 6:00 (GR leads series, 3-2)

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Hartford Wolf Pack vs. A4-Worcester Sharks || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – HARTFORD 2, Worcester 0
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – HARTFORD 5, Worcester 3
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 20 – WORCESTER 3, Hartford 2 (2OT)
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – WORCESTER 6, Hartford 0
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Worcester 3, HARTFORD 1
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – WORCESTER 5, Hartford 3

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – Portland 3, PROVIDENCE 0
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – PROVIDENCE 2, Portland 1
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Providence 5, PORTLAND 1
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Providence 2, PORTLAND 1
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – PROVIDENCE 2, Portland 1

East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E4-Philadelphia Phantoms ||
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – Hershey 4, PHILADELPHIA 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Hershey 6, PHILADELPHIA 2
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 22 – HERSHEY 3, Philadelphia 2
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 24 – HERSHEY 1, Philadelphia 0

East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins ||
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 17 – W-B/Scranton 3, BRIDGEPORT 2 (U)
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – W-B/Scranton 5, BRIDGEPORT 4 (OT) (U)
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Bridgeport 5, W-B/SCRANTON 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – W-B/Scranton 2, BRIDGEPORT 1
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, Bridgeport 2

North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N4-Toronto Marlies ||
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – Toronto 3, MANITOBA 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – MANITOBA 4, Toronto 2
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – TORONTO 2, Manitoba 1
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 21 – Manitoba 5, TORONTO 1
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Manitoba 5, TORONTO 2
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – MANITOBA 4, Toronto 2

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins ||
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 17 – Grand Rapids 4, HAMILTON 3
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Grand Rapids 3, HAMILTON 1
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 20 – Hamilton 5, GRAND RAPIDS 4
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Hamilton 4, GRAND RAPIDS 3 (OT)
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – GRAND RAPIDS 4, Hamilton 1
Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 6:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:30

West Division Semifinal – Series “G” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W4-Rockford IceHogs ||
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – MILWAUKEE 3, Rockford 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – MILWAUKEE 3, Rockford 1
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Milwaukee 3, ROCKFORD 1
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 21 – Milwaukee 4, ROCKFORD 1

West Division Semifinal – Series “H” (best-of-7)
W2-Peoria Rivermen vs. W3-Houston Aeros ||
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – PEORIA 6, Houston 4
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – Houston 2, PEORIA 0
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 18 – HOUSTON 2, Peoria 1
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 20 – Peoria 4, HOUSTON 3
Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 22 – HOUSTON 3, Peoria 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – PEORIA 2, Houston 1
Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Houston at Peoria, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern
(U) at Uniondale, N.Y.

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 6 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 6:00 (GR leads series, 3-2)
Grand Rapids goes for its first playoff series win since 2006 when it battles Hamilton at Copps Coliseum this evening in Game 6 of the teams’ North Division semifinal… The winner of this series will advance to take on Manitoba in the North Division Finals… The Griffins won the first two games in Hamilton before dropping two of three on home ice, but are coming off a solid 4-1 win in Game 5 on Friday, the first game of the series to be decided by more than a two-goal margin… Grand Rapids captain Darren Haydar scored twice in that contest and currently leads all AHL playoff scorers with nine points (3-6-9) in five games… Ville Leino (2-6-8), who assisted on both of Haydar’s Game 5 tallies, and rookie Justin Abdelkader (5-2-7) are also among the league playoff scoring leaders thus far… Defensemen Tom Galvin and Jakub Kindl each posted a goal and an assist on Friday for the Griffins, who held a 34-15 shots on goal advantage in the contest… Mike Glumac, who led the Bulldogs with 33 regular-season goals, scored his first of the playoffs for Hamilton’s lone tally in the Game 5 loss… Bulldogs rookies Ben Maxwell and Ryan White each has a team-high three goals in the series and join Glumac, David Desharnais (1-3-4) and Ryan Russell (1-3-4) in registering four points… Hamilton is 11-8 all-time when facing elimination… The Griffins, who are 4-6 with a chance to close out an opponent, are trying to avoid a repeat of the first round in 2007, when they took a 3-2 series lead on the road to Manitoba and dropped the final two contests.


Bill Ballou, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Although the Sharks didn’t score the first of their five goals until just about four minutes after the opening faceoff, they probably won last night’s game, and their playoff series, 40 seconds into the first period. That was when Andrew Desjardins leveled Hartford captain Greg Moore with a shoulder check over near the left-wing boards, and while Moore eventually got up and played a regular shift the rest of the way, Desjardins’ check showed the world that Worcester wasn’t about to let the series slip away. And it did not. The Sharks led from 12:17 of the first period to the final buzzer, beating the Hartford Wolf Pack, 5-3, to capture their first-round Atlantic Division series, 4 games to 2.

Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
Their finishing kick has sent the Manitoba Moose into the next round. The Moose completed the job against the Toronto Marlies Saturday night at the MTS Centre with three third-period goals for a 4-2 victory, winning the best-of-seven playoff series in six games. Manitoba won the final three games of the series by outscoring Toronto 8-0 in the final period of those games. “I think it has a lot to do with our conditioning,” said Moose centre Mark Cullen, whose line was responsible for turning a 2-1 deficit after two into a 3-2 lead before seven minutes had gone by in the third. “Guys get better as the game goes on.” Matt Pope and Ray Sawada scored those key goals, jolting the crowd of 10,947 into a frenzy for the final 20 minutes.

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
The Manitoba Moose were determined not to leave anything to chance. As it turns out, a seventh and deciding game won’t be required in this Calder Cup playoff series after all. Ray Sawada broke the deadlock at 6:14 of the third period to lead the Moose to a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Marlies before a raucous crowd of 10,947 at the MTS Centre last night. With the win, the Moose bounced the Marlies from the North Division semifinal in six games. “You often hear the first round is the hardest,” said Moose head coach Scott Arniel. “There is a little bit of relief getting through this one. I’m real proud of the guys for the way they played in these six games.”

Dave Eminian, Peoria Journal Star
Finish or be finished, for the Peoria Rivermen. And this time, they got the job done, winning Game 6 of their West Division semifinal series on Saturday against the Houston Aeros, 2-1, at Carver Arena. Manny Legace was spectacular, holding Peoria in the game through the first 40 minutes while Houston mounted a 25-11 shooting spree. The Aeros fell apart in a sea of penalties in the third period, and it was enough for the Rivermen, who had a pocket full of game-saving stops from Legace, a game-turning goal from captain Trent Whitfield and a game-winner from Jonathan Filewich to tie the best-of-7 series, 3-3. Game 7 is Monday night in Carver Arena.

Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Get your I-81 traffic reports squared away. For the fourth straight year, the Hershey Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are meeting in the Calder Cup playoffs. And for the third time in the last four years, they’re playing in the East Division finals. “You’re going to see a heck of a series, I think,” Bears winger Graham Mink said. Hershey and WBS advanced to the second round Friday night. Both clubs dispatched their first-round foes quicker than expected, with the Bears sweeping Philadelphia and the Pens beating Bridgeport in five games.

Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizens’ Voice
From the first period of the season, way back on Oct. 8, it was obvious. No team was going to get out of the AHL’s East Division this season without getting some chocolate on its hands. On that October evening, Hershey jumped out to a 4-1 lead on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and cruised to an 8-4 win in the season opener at the Wachovia Arena. The Bears followed that up with 48 more wins to claim the East Division championship and establish themselves as serious Calder Cup contenders. A funny thing happened in the season series between the teams after that, though. The Penguins dominated, going 7-1-1 against Hershey the rest of the way. All of that sets up a fascinating match-up in the East Division finals.

Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
It lasted just 13 years, but few, if any, rivalries in the long history of the Hershey Bears have been as intense. The Philadelphia Phantoms played their final game Friday night, a 1-0 loss to the Bears that gave Hershey a four-game sweep of its best-of-seven playoff series. The clock on the Phantoms started to run down when the announcement was made that the Spectrum would be demolished following the 2008-09 season, and speculation concerning the future of the franchise ran rampant. “I think everybody in this area is sad to see them go,” said Hershey coach Bob Woods following Friday’s victory. “It’s such a great rivalry. It’s great hockey games to be a part of.”

Paul Betit, Maine Sunday Telegram
The Portland Pirates made an early exit from the American Hockey League playoffs, but Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier seemed satisfied with the club’s first year of operation as the Sabres’ chief minor league affiliate. “From our standpoint, it was terrific,” Regier said during an interview about 30 minutes after the Providence Bruins eliminated the Pirates with a 2-1 win Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. “We couldn’t have been more pleased other than to win a few more games. It was a terrific first year. It was a very good step for us.” That doesn’t mean the Sabres won’t take steps to improve the Pirates.

1994 Calder Cup champion Sergei Gonchar tallied the game-winning goal as Pittsburgh advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Saturday… Kris Versteeg potted a goal and an assist and Brent Seabrook had three points (1-2-3) to pace Chicago past Calgary, 5-1, in Game 5… Devin Setoguchi netted a goal and assisted on the overtime winner as San Jose staved off elimination with a 3-2 win over Anaheim.

4 – Since the AHL went to its current playoff format in 2004, number of fourth-place teams that have eliminated division champions in the opening round… This year’s Worcester Sharks have joined Iowa (2007), Providence (2005) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2005) in accomplishing that feat.

April 26, 2005Derek Roy records two goals and an assist and Ryan Miller makes 28 saves as Rochester completes a four-game sweep of Hamilton with a 5-4 victory.

April 26, 1996 – An AHL playoff record five overtime games are played on one day, including Cornwall’s 2-1 win over Albany to cap the second-biggest upset in Calder Cup Playoffs history… The Aces finished 35 points behind the defending champion River Rats in the regular season.

April 26, 1995 – Providence scores six times in the third period, including goals by Peter Laviolette and Sergei Zholtok, and defeats Portland, 6-3, in Game 7 of their first-round series.

April 26, 1983 – Jim Wiemer scores a double-overtime goal for the second straight night, giving Rochester a 2-1 win at New Haven and a 3-1 series lead.

April 26, 1962 – Jimmy Anderson’s goal 2:44 into overtime clinches Springfield’s 3-2 win over Buffalo and the Indians’ third consecutive Calder Cup championship, a feat yet to be duplicated.

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.