AHL Morning Skate: Game 6 in Syracuse tonight

AHL Quick Hits is now the Morning Skate… Every morning, take 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.


Portland 5, PROVIDENCE 4 (POR wins, 4-2)

W-B/SCRANTON 3, Philadelphia 1 (WBS wins, 4-1)

TORONTO 4, Syracuse 3 (OT) (SYR leads, 3-2)

Rockford 5, CHICAGO 1 (RFD leads, 3-2)


1. Bates Battaglia scored in overtime to give Toronto a 4-3 win and force tonight’s Game 6 back in Syracuse.

2. Jason King picked up two goals, including the game-winner, as Portland completed a six-game upset of Providence with a 5-4 victory.

3. Troy Brouwer’s second straight two-goal game helped Rockford to a 5-1 win in Chicago and a 3-2 series lead.


Game 6 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:30 (SYR leads, 3-2)


Complete Results || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)

A1-Providence Bruins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 26 – PROVIDENCE 4, Portland 0

Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 27 – PROVIDENCE 7, Portland 1

Game 3 – Fri., May 2 – PORTLAND 4, Providence 3 (OT)

Game 4 – Sun., May 4 – PORTLAND 3, Providence 2 (OT)

Game 5 – Tue., May 6 – PORTLAND 3, Providence 2

Game 6 – Fri., May 9 – Portland 5, PROVIDENCE 4


East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)

E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E2-Philadelphia Phantoms || Preview

Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – Philadelphia 5, W-B/SCRANTON 2

Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – W-B/SCRANTON 5, Philadelphia 4 (OT)

Game 3 – Mon., May 5 – W-B/Scranton 3, PHILADELPHIA 2 (WC)

Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – W-B/Scranton 8, PHILADELPHIA 4 (WC)

Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Philadelphia 1


North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)

N1-Toronto Marlies vs. N2-Syracuse Crunch || Preview

Game 1 – Fri., May 2 – Syracuse 5, TORONTO 1

Game 2 – Sun., May 4 – Syracuse 3, TORONTO 1

Game 3 – Tue., May 6 – Toronto 8, SYRACUSE 2

Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – SYRACUSE 5, Toronto 4 (OT)

Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – TORONTO 4, Syracuse 3 (OT)

Game 6 – Sat., May 10 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:30

*Game 7 – Mon., May 12 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30


West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)

W1-Chicago Wolves vs. W2-Rockford IceHogs || Preview

Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – CHICAGO 4, Rockford 1

Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – CHICAGO 7, Rockford 3

Game 3 – Sun., May 4 – ROCKFORD 3, Chicago 1

Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – ROCKFORD 3, Chicago 2

Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Rockford 5, CHICAGO 1

Game 6 – Sun., May 11 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:05

*Game 7 – Tue., May 13 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00


*if necessary… All times Eastern… (WC) – Wachovia Center

GAME NOTES (all times ET):

Game 6 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:30 (SYR leads, 3-2)

TV: Leafs TV, Time Warner Cable

After Toronto staved off elimination with a 4-3 overtime win over Syracuse last night, both teams head back to the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter tonight for Game 6 of the North Division finals… Bates Battaglia scored the Game 5 winner for the Marlies at 18:35 of overtime, with Kris Newbury picking up the lone assist to complete a three-point night (0-3-3)… It marked Battaglia’s second game-winner of the playoffs and fifth goal overall (5-1-6), which ranks him second on the team behind John Mitchell’s seven tallies (7-2-9)… Mitchell lit the lamp last night for a third straight game (4-1-5)… David Ling and Brent Aubin rounded out the Marlies’ offense, and goaltender Scott Clemmensen stopped 29 of 32 shots in the winning effort… Crunch defenseman Clay Wilson sent the game to overtime with a power-play goal early in the third period… Tom Sestito opened the game’s scoring for Syracuse, and former first-round draft pick Gilbert Brule picked up his first career postseason tally… It marked the seventh time in 11 games this postseason that the Crunch have gone to overtime (5-2)… Last night’s game was the longest in Crunch history… A Syracuse victory tonight will send the Crunch to the conference finals for the first time since 1996; a Toronto win will force a Game 7 back at Ricoh Coliseum on Monday.




Paul Betit, Portland Press-Herald

The Portland Pirates advanced to the third round of the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs for the second time in three seasons by eliminating the league’s best team Friday night. Jason King scored two goals to lead the Pirates to a 5-4 win against the Providence Bruins, completing an amazing turnaround in the Atlantic Division finals before 5,839 fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. After losing Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series by huge margins, the Pirates won four straight to oust the top-seeded Bruins. “That’s a little bit of a testament to the players,” Portland coach Kevin Dineen said. “They’ve been resilient all year long. They don’t sweat the small stuff. They just keep on coming.” The Pirates will open a best-of-seven series on the road Wednesday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the Eastern Conference title.




Mike Loftus, Patriot Ledger

The only people who saw it coming were the Portland Pirates. Trailing their second-round, best-of-7 Calder Cup playoff series against the Providence Bruins, 2-0, the Pirates went home to regroup for Games 3, 4, and they hoped, Game 5. Portland carried it all the way to Game 6, and made it the last of Providence’s season. “It’s certainly unexpected,” said Bruins coach Scott Gordon after the Pirates completed their four-game reversal with a 5-4 victory Friday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Civic Center. “All four of these games were games we could have won.” That may have been truer Friday night than at any other point since they’d won Game 2, 7-1. Providence jumped to a 2-0 lead in Friday’s first 9:50 on goals by Pascal Pelletier and Nate Thompson – the latter a shorthanded strike that might break other teams’ spirits. But as had often been the case once the series moved to Portland, the B’s weren’t able to hold their lead long enough, or build it big enough.




Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizen’s Voice

A series that began in a cloud of negativity ended with a burst of brilliance for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Minard and Tim Wallace scored goals and John Curry made 22 saves as the Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Phantoms 3-1 Friday night at the Wachovia Arena to close out the East Division finals in five games. The Penguins began the series just days after captain Nathan Smith and alternate captain Ryan Stone had a much-publicized brush with the law. With that as backdrop, the Penguins lost Game 1 and trailed by three goals entering the third period of Game 2. They were been dominant ever since, reeling off four straight wins and outscoring the rival Phantoms 18-7. “It was a great job by our players,” coach Todd Richards said. “We went through a lot leading up to the series. Guys had to deal with a lot of different things.




Paul Sokoloski, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

After one game, John Curry looked like his whole world had caved in. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans cheer on their team during the Pens’ 3-1 victory over Philadelphia at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza Friday evening. After the next, he was on top of the world again. The rookie goaltender made 22 stops Friday, including a couple of the spectacular variety as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins snagged the East Division Final series of the Calder Cup Playoffs by fending off Philadelphia in five games. “I see how hard these guys are working, I have to respond the same way,” Curry said after the Penguins secured a spot against Portland in the Eastern Conference Finals with Friday’s 3-1 win over the Phantoms. “If we’re all over them (defensively), I’ve got to be at the top of my game.”




Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star

Bates Battaglia, a resident grinder when he played with the Maple Leafs the past two seasons, is playing a new role with the Marlies. Battaglia the checker has morphed into Battaglia the goal-scorer – at least in the Marlies’ North Division final series against the Syracuse Crunch. The soft-spoken Chicago native’s overtime goal sealed a 4-3 win over the Crunch last night at Ricoh Coliseum, and breathed new life into the Marlies’ playoff drive. “You guys give me too much credit,” Battaglia said when it was mentioned in the post-game scrum that he showed a sniper’s savvy by positioning himself in front of the net to whack home a centering pass from David Ling at 18:35 of overtime. The goal was Battaglia’s fourth of the playoffs, but his last two have been significant for the Marlies: Both were game-winners.




Lindsay Kramer, Syracuse Post-Standard

Live by the overtime, sometimes you lose that way too. The Syracuse Crunch was on the wrong end of that drama on Friday, at a time when one more clutch goal would have sent it to the next round of the AHL playoffs. Toronto’s Bates Battaglia scored at the 18:35 mark of overtime to help the Marlies fight back elimination and top Syracuse 4-3 at Ricoh Coliseum in Game 5 of the North Division final. Syracuse now leads the best-of-seven series three games to two. The series returns to Syracuse for Game 6 tonight. Game 7, if necessary, would be Monday back at Ricoh. In Syracuse’s 11 postseason games this year, seven have gone to overtime. It has won five, one off the AHL record. Battaglia wrote a different ending to this one, slipping behind Crunch defenseman Clay Wilson to deflect a pass from David Ling past Crunch goalie Karl Goehring.




Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star

The Rockford IceHogs, you might remember, tried altering their pregame routine for the first two road playoff games against the Chicago Wolves. They lost both anyway. So coach Mike Haviland came up with another idea for Friday’s Game 5. He brought the team in Thursday night to simulate a real road trip. Now that worked, as the Rockford IceHogs made themselves feel right at home in Allstate Arena on the way to a 5-1 victory and a 3-2 lead in the AHL West Division best-of-seven series. The IceHogs will go for the clincher at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at the MetroCentre. “We were trying everything and anything we can,” Haviland said of his strategy. “I guess it worked. “It’s a tough building to win in, and they’re a great team at home. It certainly was a situation that was a must-win for us to come in and do what we do. The guys played well. I’m proud of them.”




Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune

In a series when playing on home ice has meant everything, the Rockford IceHogs made themselves comfortable in the Wolves’ own arena Friday night. The IceHogs scored three second-period goals and went on to ride the hot goaltending of Corey Crawford for a 5-1 victory over the Wolves and a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven West Division Finals of the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs. Rockford’s victory was the first in eight meetings between the teams at Allstate Arena this season, including three in the series. The Wolves will need a victory Sunday in Rockford, where they are 1-6 this season—including 0-2 in the postseason—to extend the series and their season.




James Mirtle, Globe and Mail

With the Colorado Avalanche and Joel Quenneville parting ways yesterday, and the Toronto Maple Leafs firing Paul Maurice on Wednesday, the number of head-coaching vacancies in the NHL has ballooned to five in the past three days. And while many of the usual suspects are lining up as potential replacements, some prominent voices in the hockey world suggest a long-time minor-league bench boss might be the way to go. The Washington Capitals followed that route this season with Bruce Boudreau, who was hired 21 games into the season and with the team in last place in the Eastern Conference. After a 17-year apprenticeship in the minor leagues, Boudreau led the Capitals to a 37-17-7 finish and is nominated for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL coach of the year. One of the names at the top of the list in terms of AHL options is John Anderson, a former Maple Leafs player who has coached the Chicago Wolves for the past 11 seasons.



2005 Calder Cup champion Mike Richards scored a pair of goals, but Philadelphia dropped a 4-2 deci