AHL Morning Skate: June 12, 2024

Photo: Tori Hartman

A1-Hershey Bears vs. N1-Cleveland Monsters
Game 7 – Tonight, 7:00 ET, , NHL Network
(Series tied, 3-3)

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 3, HERSHEY 2 (OT) | Recap/Highlights
Game 7 – Wed., June 12 – Cleveland at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

An epic showdown for the Eastern Conference championship comes down to one game as Hershey hosts Cleveland tonight for the right to play for the Calder Cup... Monday’s Game 6 – and the series – appeared to be Hershey’s when Joe Snively (2-9-11) scored with 49.3 seconds left to give the Bears a 2-1 lead, but Brendan Gaunce (3-2-5) tied it back up with 32.9 seconds to go, the third time in the series that the Monsters had scored a tying goal with their goaltender pulled for an extra attacker... Jake Christiansen (1-0-1), back in the Cleveland lineup after missing the previous 10 games due to injury, then scored the winning goal at 17:31 of overtime to make the Monsters just the fifth team in AHL history to force a Game 7 after losing the first three games of a series... Owen Sillinger (3-3-6) also scored for Cleveland on Monday, his first goal in nine games... After his 29-save effort in Game 6, Jet Greaves (8-4, 2.12, .928) has stopped 95 of 100 Hershey shots (3-0, 1.52, .950) since allowing 13 goals on 90 shots to begin the series (0-3, 4.36, .856)... Hershey’s Hunter Shepard (9-4, 2.19, .916) also made 29 saves in Game 6... Henrik Rybinski (4-3-7) scored his second goal of the series, and Hendrix Lapierre (4-10-14) and Chase Priskie (2-10-12) got back on the scoresheet with an assist each after being held scoreless in Games 4 and 5... Monday’s defeat was the Bears’ first loss at home this postseason, and ended a streak of 14 consecutive wins by Hershey in OT (regular season and playoffs)... Excluding shootouts, the Bears have lost three in a row for the first time since Mar. 4-12, 2023; they have not lost four straight since Oct. 21-29, 2022... Hershey is 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) on the power play in the series, but just 1-for-9 in the last three games... The Monsters’ power play is 5-for-22 (22.7 percent) in the series... Hershey is 10-9 all-time in Game 7’s, including 6-1 since 1997... The Bears and the Cleveland Barons met in a Game 7 three times, with Cleveland winning in 1944 and 1957 and Hershey prevailing in 1959... This will be the second Game 7 in Monsters history; they lost to Manitoba in the 2011 division semifinals... Tonight’s game is the 98th Game 7 in Calder Cup Playoffs history... Home teams are 55-42 (.567) all-time in Game 7’s... Teams scoring the first goal of a Game 7 are 76-21 (.784)... Game 7’s have gone to overtime 19 times, with road teams owning a 10-9 advantage... Tonight’s winner will be awarded the Richard F. Canning Trophy and will face Coachella Valley in the Calder Cup Finals beginning Friday night.

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 Monsters blue line got a boost in Game 6 when Jake Christiansen returned to the back end for the first time since May 3.

Christiansen delivered the overtime winner to force the deciding Game 7 tonight at Giant Center.

Head coach Trent Vogelhuber paired Christiansen with rookie Denton Mateychuk, who was playing just his third game as a pro. The duo clicked immediately.

“They looked great,” Vogelhuber said.

Christiansen, part of a contingent that represented the Monsters at the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic, tied for fourth in scoring among AHL defensemen in the regular season with 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 62 games.

“It was killing him not to play,” Vogelhuber said. “He would have been back in a week if the doctors let him. He would have played through anything. He kept himself in great shape... Was the best teammate you could ask for through the whole thing. When you approach it like that, you’re ready to play when the time comes. We weren’t expecting any rust.”

The 19-year-old Mateychuk, who assisted on Christiansen’s overtime winner for his second point in three games, joined the Monsters after his Moose Jaw team lost in the semifinals of the Memorial Cup tournament on May 31.

“He’s been with his (junior) team, emotionally invested all year, Memorial Cup, and you lose a heartbreaker,” Vogelhuber said. “He’s so steady, which is rare for a kid coming out of junior. I think that’s the biggest difference to get to the NHL, just clean execution on a consistent basis, and he does that. He executes.”

Said Christiansen of partnering with one of the game’s top prospects, “I loved it. I mean, he’s a smart player. Really easy to play with. Awesome guy. So hopefully we can build on that and keep going here.”

The Calder Cup Playoffs are about taking an opportunity and stepping up, and Bears forward Henrik Rybinski did that on Monday.

With Pierrick Dubé out of the lineup for the third consecutive game, head coach Todd Nelson reworked his roster for Game 6. Rybinski got an opportunity on a line with Alex Limoges and Jimmy Huntington, and provided the Bears’ opening goal. In addition, Matt Strome drew in for Matthew Phillips, who had played Games 4 and 5.

The Bears lost leading goal-scorer Ethen Frank to injury during the second period of Game 6. His status for tonight is unknown.

There have been four previous Game 7’s in Calder Cup Playoff history after one team had started out with a 3-0 series lead:

April 10, 1960 – Rochester 4, Cleveland 1
A standing-room-only crowd of 7,762 fans jammed the Rochester War Memorial to watch the Amerks defeat the Barons, 4-1, to become the first AHL team ever to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. Pat Hannigan scored the winning goal late in the second period and Ed Chadwick made 28 saves.

April 30, 1989 – Adirondack 2, Hershey 1 (OT)
Adam Graves scored 10:31 into overtime to give the Red Wings a 2-1 win over the Bears at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Hershey had won 19 of its previous 20 playoff games, including a perfect 12-0 run through the 1988 postseason, before Adirondack won the final four games of the series.

May 24, 2011 – Houston 4, Hamilton 3
Aeros captain Jon DiSalvatore scored with 1:13 left in regulation to send Houston to the Calder Cup Finals with a 4-3 victory over the visiting Bulldogs. Hamilton, which had trailed in the series 3-0, erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in Game 7 before their comeback bid ultimately fell short.

May 22, 2013 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 5, Providence 0
Brad Thiessen followed a 46-save performance in Game 6 with a 34-save shutout in Game 7 as the Penguins became the first team to complete a 3-0 comeback by finishing the series on the road. Thiessen, who currently serves as goaltending development coach for the Cleveland Monsters, went on to allow four goals on 181 shots (0.70, .978) after coming on in relief during Game 2.

― with files from Patrick Williams

Evan Rodrigues scored twice as Florida took a 2-0 series lead with a 4-1 win over Edmonton... Rodrigues played 128 games with the AHL’s Rochester Americans over parts of three seasons between 2015 and 2017... Niko Mikkola, who played two seasons (2018-20) with the San Antonio Rampage, also scored for the Panthers... Mattias Ekholm had the only goal for the Oilers.

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.