AHL Morning Skate: IceHogs, Moose seek big wins

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 3 – WORCESTER 3, Hartford 2 (2OT) (HFD leads series, 2-1)
Game 3 – Hamilton 5, GRAND RAPIDS 4 (GR leads series, 2-1)
Game 4 – Peoria 4, HOUSTON 3 (HOU leads series, 2-1)

1. Ryan Vesce netted a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the second overtime, as Worcester cut its series deficit in half with a 3-2 win over Hartford.

2. Ryan White tallied the game-winning goal unassisted to propel Hamilton to its first win of the playoffs, a 5-4 decision at Grand Rapids.

3. Trent Whitfield notched the game-winner in the third period as Peoria knotted its series with a 4-3 victory in Houston.

Game 4 – Manitoba at Toronto, 7:00 (TOR leads series, 2-1)
Game 4 – Milwaukee at Rockford, 8:05 (MIL leads series, 3-0)

CC09ad_300x250.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
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 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Hartford at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00

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 at Portland, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Portland at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Providence at Portland, 4:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Portland at Providence, 7:05

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 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Hershey at Philadelphia, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00

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
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – W-B/Scranton 5, BRIDGEPORT 4 (OT)
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Bridgeport 5, W-B/SCRANTON 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – W-B/Scranton at Bridgeport, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Bridgeport, 4:00

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 at Toronto, 7:00
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Manitoba at Toronto, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30

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 at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*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 at Rockford, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Milwaukee at Rockford, 6:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:00

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 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Houston at Peoria, 8:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Houston at Peoria, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Manitoba at Toronto, 7:00
Manitoba looks to avoid falling into a 3-1 series hole to fourth-place Toronto when it battles the Marlies in Game 4 of their North Division semifinal tonight… The Moose have lost all five games they’ve played at Ricoh Coliseum this season and seven of their last eight to Toronto overall, most recently a 2-1 setback in Game 3 of the series on Sunday… Marlies regular-season scoring leader Tim Stapleton netted the game-winner at 2:44 of the third period, with assists to Bates Battaglia and Jiri Tlusty… Battaglia (1-2-3) and Andre Deveaux (0-3-3) – who assisted on Ryan Hamilton’s first-period goal – are leading Toronto with three points apiece in the series… Goaltender Justin Pogge has stopped 84 of 90 shots (.933) through the first three games, including 30 of 31 on Sunday… Alexandre Bolduc tallied the Moose’s lone goal in Game 3… After going 2-for-5 in Game 2, the Moose’s power play was scoreless on six opportunities on Sunday… This marks the fourth playoff series in three years under head coach Scott Arniel that Manitoba has trailed 2-1; the Moose have captured Game 4 on each of the previous three occasions… This is the first time the Marlies have held a 2-1 edge in a postseason series.

Game 4 – Milwaukee at Rockford, 8:05
Holding a commanding 3-0 series lead in its West Division semifinal, Milwaukee can become the first team to advance to the second round with a victory over Rockford in Game 4 tonight at the MetroCentre… The Admirals have taken 3-1 victories in each of the first three contests and are gunning for their third consecutive series victory by way of the sweep; Milwaukee swept Houston and Grand Rapids en route to a Calder Cup Finals appearance in 2006 and have not won a playoff series since… The Admirals’ Drew MacIntyre leads all AHL postseason goaltenders in both goals-against average (1.00) and save percentage (.964), having stopped 80 of 83 shots thus far… Cal O’Reilly is tied for the league lead with six points (2-4-6) for Milwaukee and picked up two assists in Sunday’s Game 3 victory… Admirals forwards Andreas Thuresson, Triston Grant and Ryan Jones all scored their first goal of the playoffs in that contest… Tyler Mosienko bagged Rockford’s lone marker… The IceHogs’ top two regular-season scorers – Tim Brent (20-42-62) and Pascal Pelletier (29-26-55) – are scoreless and a combined minus-12 through the first three games of the series… Rockford has dropped five straight playoff games dating back to last year’s division finals vs. Chicago.


Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
The AHL’s goalie of the year is quite at ease with the comparisons that are being made in the first-round playoff series. Cory Schneider and his Manitoba Moose are trailing 2-1 in their series with the Toronto Marlies and one of the reasons is the slight edge gained by Justin Pogge in the Toronto net. Schneider vs. Pogge – has the series come down to that? “Lots of people are making it out like that,” Schneider said Monday. “We’re the same age, same draft year, played World Junior against each other. We’ve always been compared, ever since we were picked.” Schneider and Pogge even have similar experiences in the NHL this season, called up by their respective parent teams only to find not a lot of love.

Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star
Drew MacIntyre is seeing the puck well, which is good news for his Milwaukee Admirals and not so good for the Rockford IceHogs. The Admirals goalie, who led the AHL in regular-season wins (34), has been as consistent and efficient as a netminder can be in the playoffs. He’s 3-0 and has allowed exactly one goal per game as his team goes for the best-of-seven series clincher Tuesday at the MetroCentre. The reason the puck has been so visible to him has nothing to do with contacts or glasses.

Bill Ballou, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
It was like a perfect meal, from the appetizer through two courses of dessert. The Worcester Sharks revived their playoff hopes with a classic 3-2, double-overtime victory last night over the Hartford Wolf Pack, cutting their first-round series deficit to 2-1. “We’ve got a series,” Sharks coach Roy Sommer said. “If it’s 3-0, we’re in trouble. Now, we’re only down by a game and we’re coming back here.” Ryan Vesce got the winning goal at 1:07 of the second OT, snapping a 15-footer past Matt Zaba from the low slot. It was Vesce’s fifth overtime goal of 2008-09, four of them during the regular season.

Garry McKay, Hamilton Spectator
The Hamilton Bulldogs found the spark they were missing. The Dogs got goals from five different players and effort from pretty well everybody in a 5-4 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins. So instead of facing elimination in their best-of-seven AHL North Division semifinal the Dogs are now only down 2-1 and can tie it up with a win in Grand Rapids tomorrow. “We certainly played with a lot more intensity but that’s the way we have to play,” said Hamilton coach Ron Wilson. “That’s the way I thought we were playing but for some reason we didn’t play that way in the first two games at home.”

Michael Zuidema, Grand Rapids Press
The Grand Rapids Griffins figured the Hamilton Bulldogs would come out with extra bite in Game 3 of their playoff series Monday night. They were right. The Bulldogs turned up the physical play and held on for a 5-4 win before a crowd of 3,468 at Van Andel Arena. It prevented Grand Rapids from taking its first 3-0 series lead since the 2003 Western Conference semifinals. “To think that we’d be up 3-0 in the first three games would be a stretch,” Griffins coach Curt Fraser said. “This is playoff hockey, and these are two very, very good teams. “You just can’t make mistakes, and we gave them a few too many opportunities and they took advantage of it.”

Dave Eminian, Peoria Journal Star
This time, the Peoria Rivermen were ready for the counterpunch. This time, they didn’t blink, swinging for a knockout in Game 4 of the West Division semifinals, a 4-3 victory Monday that tied the best-of-7 series at 2-2. Veteran goaltender Manny Legace was terrific, robbing Tony Hrkac on a stunning backdoor one-timer with 3:25 left in the game to preserve Peoria’s one-goal lead. “Manny Legace is just unbelievable,” Rivermen captain Trent Whitfield said. “Has been from the moment he got here. That’s what it takes to win playoff games.”

Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
The Aeros found out why undisciplined hockey in the playoffs usually spells disaster. After taking a one-goal lead in the second period, the Aeros stopped skating, started going to the penalty box and watched the Peoria Rivermen even the first-round, best-of-seven series with a 4-3 win over the Aeros at Toyota Center. “We have talked about our discipline, and we have talked about how we have to play really hard and draw our fair share of penalties,” said Aeros head coach Kevin Constantine. “But we have to stay disciplined on the other end, and that will continue to big a big factor in this series.”

Paul Sokoloski, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
One fluke. One lucky bounce. One insignificant moment of craziness that somehow becomes very significant. Call the goal Bridgeport scored at the end of the second period Sunday whatever you want. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins sure did, flicking it away like most of the shots their goalie had John Curry turned away up to that point. But sometimes, one break is all it takes to turn a whole playoff series upside down. And break a team’s heart along with it. The Penguins have to make sure that doesn’t happen to them; that a weird goal doesn’t turn the rest of the playoffs wacky.

Rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov, who went 19-7-1 in 27 games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears during the regular season, made 33 saves for his first career NHL shutout as Washington climbed back into its Eastern Conference quarterfinal with a 4-0 win over the N.Y. Rangers on Monday… 2008-09 AHL All-Rookie defenseman Yannick Weber scored his first NHL goal and posted an assist, but Montreal fell into a 3-0 series hole with a 4-2 loss to Boston… David Moss scored twice to help Calgary double up Chicago by a 4-2 count.

21-3 – Record this postseason of the team scoring the game’s first goal… Only Grand Rapids (Game 2), Hershey (Game 2) and Worcester (Game 3) have won a game after falling behind 1-0.

3-1 – Final score of each of the first three games of the Milwaukee-Rockford series, all in the Admirals’ favor… Milwaukee also won its regular-season finale by a 3-1 margin vs. Chicago on Apr. 10.

74 – Career playoff assists by Grand Rapids’ Darren Haydar, who became the AHL’s all-time leader with his three helpers last night… Haydar is now alone in first place in goals (56), assists (74) and points (130) in just 98 games.

April 21, 2008Martins Karsums scores 46 seconds into overtime to give Providence a 3-2 win at Manchester and a four-game sweep of their division semifinal series.

April 21, 2006Jiri Hudler’s goal 2:21 into the third overtime period gives Grand Rapids a 6-5 win over Toronto in Game 1, while Jeff Giuliano scores 1:46 into the second OT to lift Manchester past Hartford, 6-5, in Game 3.

April 21, 1995 – The Hershey Bears (186) and Cornwall Aces (149) combine for 335 penalty minutes, then an AHL playoff record, but the Bears’ 6-3 win extends the series to a Game 6.

April 21, 1965 – Gerry Ehman scores at 14:39 of overtime to give Rochester a 2-1 win over Hershey in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals.

April 21, 1951 – Behind the goaltending of Johnny Bower, the Cleveland Barons win the Calder Cup with a 3-1 win over Pittsburgh in Game 7.

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.