AHL Morning Skate: June 18, 2024

Photo: Mike Zitek

A1-Hershey Bears vs. P1-Coachella Valley Firebirds
Game 3 – Tonight, 10:00 ET,
(Series tied, 1-1)

Game 1 – Fri., June 14 – Coachella Valley 4, HERSHEY 3 | Recap/Highlights
Game 2 – Sun., June 16 – HERSHEY 5, Coachella Valley 2 | Recap/Highlights
Game 3 – Tue., June 18 – Hershey at Coachella Valley, 10:00
Game 4 – Thu., June 20 – Hershey at Coachella Valley, 10:00
Game 5 – Sat., June 22 – Hershey at Coachella Valley, 9:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 24 – Coachella Valley at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 26 – Coachella Valley at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

The Calder Cup Finals head west as Coachella Valley hosts Hershey in Game 3 tonight with the series even at one game apiece... The Bears got in the win column with a 5-2 victory back home on Sunday evening, getting all five goals from players who were not on last year’s championship team... Jimmy Huntington (3-8-11) snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:59 left in the second period to give Hershey the lead for good, then set up a goal by Pierrick Dubé (4-2-6) less than four minutes later... The Firebirds had held Hershey without a shot on goal for 12:37 before Huntington’s go-ahead tally... Hardy Häman Aktell (4-3-7) scored twice in the third period of Game 2, giving him three goals in the series... It was the first two-goal Finals game by a defenseman since Calle Rosen scored twice for Toronto in Game 5 of the 2018 Finals... Ivan Miroshnichenko (7-4-11) netted his first goal since Game 3 of the conference finals against Cleveland... Mike Vecchione (2-7-9) and Alex Limoges (3-5-8) each tallied two assists in Game 2... Hunter Shepard (11-5, 2.27, .917) stopped 32 of 34 shots to earn his 25th victory over the last two postseasons... The Firebirds’ Marian Studenic (3-5-8) scored 17 seconds into the third period on Sunday, the fastest goal to begin a period in a Calder Cup Finals game since Syracuse’s Kevin Lynch in 2017 (:17, first period, Game 5)... Luke Henman (1-3-4) scored the other Coachella Valley goal in Game 2, his first goal since Apr. 7... Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play on Sunday... The Firebirds are 6-0 at home this postseason and have won 13 of their last 14 home playoff games going back to last spring... Coachella Valley outscored Hershey, 16-5, in four games at Acrisure Arena in last year’s Finals, but the last three goals of the series belonged to the Bears in their Game 7 victory.

All Jimmy Huntington could do is marvel when asked about linemate Pierrick Dubé.

That Dubé is even playing right now is a testament to his grit, to say nothing of modern-day dentistry. The 23-year-old lost “five or six” teeth during Hershey’s Eastern Conference Finals battle with Cleveland. After undergoing oral surgery and missing three games, he returned to the lineup for Game 7, scoring a big second-period goal in a 3-2 overtime victory that sent the Bears on to the Calder Cup Finals.

“Coming back from that injury, it was pretty insane,” Huntington said of the 5-foot-9, 172-pound Dubé. “We saw him on the table, it was like, ‘Oh my God, how is that possible?’”

But it was.

Dubé continues to put his body on the line for the Bears even after the injury. He provided the game-winning goal in Game 2, driving hard to the net, taking a cross-slot feed from Huntington, and directing it past Firebirds goaltender Chris Driedger before falling heavily into the end boards. But Dubé quickly popped up, mobbed by his teammates, before charging toward the Hershey bench for more celebrations.

After notching one goal in his first eight playoff games, Dubé’s production has started to come, including the OT winner in Game 2 against Cleveland last round. Having gotten 28 goals from Dubé during the regular season, the Bears need every bit of the offensive drive that he can provide against a team as potent as the Firebirds.

“[Dubé is] a warrior,” Huntington added, “and he’s going to do everything it takes to win a Cup here. We’re right there. We’re here. Why not win it?”

Both teams made lineup changes for Game 2 following injuries in the series opener.

Two-time Calder Cup winner Andrew Poturalski was out on Sunday after leaving midway through Game 1. Shane Wright took his place on a line with Max McCormick and Kole Lind, while Lleyton Roed made his Calder Cup Playoff debut.

Roed, a Hobey Baker Award nominee this season with Bemidji State University, signed as a free agent with the Seattle Kraken on Mar. 27 after recording 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 38 NCAA games. The 21-year-old also played five regular-season contests with the Firebirds, notching a goal and an assist. His father, Peter, played two seasons with the AHL’s Kentucky Thoroughblades, including a playoff series against Hershey during the 2000 postseason.

For the Bears, forward Garrett Roe, who had the series-clinching overtime winner in Game 7 against Cleveland, was also injured during Game 1 and missed Sunday’s contest. Matt Strome stepped in to take Roe’s place.

― with files from Patrick Williams

Dylan Holloway scored two goals and assisted on another as Edmonton cruised past Florida, 8-1, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night... Holloway played 18 games in the AHL for Bakersfield this season collecting 10 goals and six assists, including a hat trick against Calgary on Apr. 6... Mattias Janmark added a goal and an assist for the Oilers, and Stuart Skinner made 32 saves... Two-time AHL All-Star Anthony Stolarz made his playoff debut for the Panthers, making 16 saves in 35 minutes of relief work... Game 5 of the series is this evening in Sunrise, Fla.

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.