AHL Morning Skate: June 10, 2024

Photo: Tori Hartman

A1-Hershey Bears vs. N1-Cleveland Monsters
Game 6 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Hershey leads series, 3-2)

Game 1 – Thu., May 30 – HERSHEY 5, Cleveland 4 (OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Sat., June 1 – HERSHEY 3, Cleveland 2 (OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 3 – Tue., June 4 – Hershey 6, CLEVELAND 2 | Recap/Highlights
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – CLEVELAND 3, Hershey 2 | Recap/Highlights
Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – CLEVELAND 5, Hershey 1 | Recap/Highlights
Game 6 – Mon., June 10 – Cleveland at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 12 – Cleveland at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

Hershey hosts Cleveland in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight after the Monsters fought off elimination twice to send the series back to Chocolatetown... Cleveland’s 5-1 win in Game 5 on Saturday was sparked by a four-goal second period, and gave the Bears back-to-back losses for the first time all season (excluding shootouts)... Monsters captain Brendan Gaunce (2-2-4) notched two goals and an assist to lead the offense while Josh Dunne (7-4-11) also scored twice, giving him points in six straight games... Dunne leads all scorers with 4-3-7 in the series... Alex Whelan (5-4-9) extended his scoring streak to seven games with a goal and an assist in Game 5... Justin Pearson (2-9-11) and Marcus Björk (1-8-9) picked up two helpers each... Jet Greaves (7-4, 2.19, .927) stopped 33 of 34 shots on Saturday, and has allowed three goals in the last two games (.957) after the Bears had scored 14 times in the first three contests of the series... Logan Day (1-2-3) staked Hershey to a 1-0 lead with a goal 12:11 into Game 1; the Bears would lose in regulation for just the third time all season after scoring the first goal of a game (47-3-0-1)... It was also Hershey’s second non-shootout loss when leading after 20 minutes (35-2-0-1)... 2024 AHL All-Star Clay Stevenson made his Calder Cup Playoff debut in Game 5, playing the third period in relief of Hunter Shepard (9-3, 2.18, .917)... Saturday marked the first time in 267 periods that the Bears had given up four goals in a single frame, going back to Game 2 of last year’s Calder Cup Finals against Coachella Valley... Prior to Cleveland, only 20 teams (out of 141) in AHL history had forced a Game 6 after trailing a series 3-0 (14.2 percent); the Monsters are looking to become the fifth team to take it all the way to a Game 7... Cleveland is playing an elimination game on the road tonight for the first time in club history... Hershey has not closed out a series at Giant Center since last year’s division semifinals against Charlotte; the Bears’ last five series wins were all clinched on the road... The Bears are 6-0 at home during the playoffs after going 29-7-0-0 on home ice during the regular season.

P1-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. C1-Milwaukee Admirals
(Coachella Valley wins series, 4-1)

Game 1 – Wed., May 29 – COACHELLA VALLEY 2, Milwaukee 1 | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Fri., May 31 – COACHELLA VALLEY 3, Milwaukee 1 | Recap/Highlights
Game 3 – Tue., June 4 – Coachella Valley 5, MILWAUKEE 2 | Recap/Highlights
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – MILWAUKEE 7, Coachella Valley 2 | Recap/Highlights
Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – Coachella Valley 5, MILWAUKEE 1 | Recap/Highlights

The Hershey Bears have been in this situation before. Probably more times than they have wanted.

In the division semifinals this spring, Hershey was shut out in Game 3 before finishing off Lehigh Valley in Game 4. During last year’s Calder Cup championship run, the Bears lost games at home to Charlotte in the division semis and to Rochester in the Eastern Conference Finals with a chance to advance. And of course there was the Game 6 loss in Coachella Valley before capturing the Cup in Game 7.

In fact, since 2015, the Bears have won 12 playoff series, but have lost at least one potential clinching game in nine of them.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” captain Dylan McIlrath told FOX 43 after Saturday’s 5-1 loss to Cleveland in Game 5 cut their series lead to three games to two.

After three games in front of a total of more than 40,000 fans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, the Bears are happy to be returning home, where they have not lost all postseason.

“We’re excited to get in front of our fans,” McIlrath added. “They carry us. The sixth man out there. It will be really nice. We know that [Giant Center] is going to be rocking.”

The Bears’ path to their 25th Calder Cup Finals appearance is not as clear as it was four days ago. Back-to-back losses – their first since Games 1 and 2 of last year’s Finals series against Coachella Valley – have put Hershey in a position seen only once previously in the franchise’s 86-year history.

Before this series, the Bears had led a series 3-0 on 22 different occasions. They completed a sweep 14 times, and finished off the series in Game 5 seven other times.

The only opponent to push Hershey as far as Game 6 was the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings, who won that sixth game at Hersheypark Arena before completing the comeback on Adam Graves’ overtime goal back at the Glens Falls Civic Center in Game 7.

― with files from Patrick Williams

Carter Verhaeghe, the AHL’s scoring champion in 2018-19, scored his 10th goal and third game-winner of the postseason as Florida defeated Edmonton, 3-0, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night... Evan Rodrigues and Eetu Luostarinen also scored for the Panthers... Game 2 is tonight in South Florida.

Watch the Calder Cup Playoffs on AHLTV
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2024 Calder Cup championship. AHLTV features live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as OTT platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. A subscription is just $29.99 to watch every game for the entire postseason, or just $8.99 for a day pass. Visit AHLTV.com for details.