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AHL Morning Skate: June 4

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.

Playoff Bracket
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2011 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Fri., May 27 – HOUSTON 3, Binghamton 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 28 – Binghamton 2, HOUSTON 1 (OT)
Game 3 – Wed., June 1 – Houston 2, BINGHAMTON 1
Game 4 – Fri., June 3 – BINGHAMTON 3, Houston 0
Game 5 – Sat., June 4 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 6 – Tue., June 7 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:05
*Game 7 – Thu., June 9 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:05

*if necessary… All times Eastern

1. Regular-season AHL MVP Corey Locke registered a goal and an assist as Binghamton evened up the 2011 Calder Cup Finals at two games apiece.

2. Senators rookie goaltender Robin Lehner made 21 saves for his league-leading third shutout of the playoffs.

3. Cody Bass notched what turned out to be the game-winning goal for Binghamton.

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 5 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05 (Series tied, 2-2)
   TV: Comcast 110 (Houston), Time Warner Cable 23 & HD 813 (Binghamton), Rogers Sportsnet Sens
   Video Webcast: AHL Live (
   Series Preview:

With the series deadlocked at two games apiece, the stakes will be high tonight as Houston and Binghamton square off at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena for Game 5 of the 2011 Calder Cup Finals… Of the 19 previous best-of-seven Calder Cup Finals that have been tied at 2-2, only once has a team lost Game 5 but still won the series (1987, Rochester)… The teams have alternated victories, with the Senators pulling even again with a 3-0 win in Game 4 last night… Cody Bass provided all the offense Binghamton would need 11:48 into the first period, and regular-season AHL MVP Corey Locke paced the Senators with a goal and an assist in the winning effort… Locke, who missed Binghamton’s entire first-round series with Manchester, has 2-11-13 in 14 games since returning to the lineup and 23-34-58 in 60 games for his AHL playoff career… Bass’s goal, off a Colin Greening wraparound attempt, was his first since Game 5 of the division semifinals vs. Manchester on Apr. 20… Senators defenseman Derek Smith, who had returned to the lineup in Game 3 of this series on Wednesday after missing 17 games due to injury, registered a third-period goal for his first career playoff marker… Robin Lehner stopped all 21 shots he faced in Game 4 to pick up his league-leading third shutout of the playoffs and improve to 5-0 this postseason following a Senators loss… Among all AHL postseason goaltenders, the 19-year-old Lehner now ranks second in save percentage (.938) and fifth in goals-against average (2.12)… AHL playoff scoring leader Ryan Potulny (14-11-25) has gone without a point in all four games of this series; he had been held off the scoresheet in just three of Binghamton’s first 17 playoff contests through three rounds… Last night’s loss marked Houston’s first shutout defeat since a 3-0 setback at Texas on Mar. 22… Matt Hackett, making his 22nd start in as many playoff games and his 27th consecutive start overall, made 34 saves in Game 4 as Houston was outshot 37-21… Patrick O’Sullivan continues to lead the Aeros in playoff scoring with 17 points (4-13-17), but the former AHL rookie of the year has not scored a goal since Game 6 of the division finals at Milwaukee on May 8, a 12-game dry spell… Houston forward Jed Ortmeyer netted a pair of goals in Game 1 of the series but has produced no points and just five shots on goal in the last three contests… The Senators, who are playing their final game at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena this season, are an even 5-5 at home during the playoffs… Houston holds a 6-5 mark on the road… The Aeros are 1-for-13 on the power play in the series and have two power-play goals in their last 31 chances overall (6.5 percent).


ENERGIZED B-SENS DOMINATE IN GAME 4 – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The Binghamton Senators insisted they had not played their best hockey through the first three games of the Calder Cup Finals. Friday night, they showed the Houston Aeros and another sold-out crowd of 4,710 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena just how good they can be. The B-Sens got to their game early and dominated puck possession all night as they defeated the Aeros 3-0 in Game 4 of the finals to tie the best-of-seven championship series 2-2.

With the Binghamton Senators delivering a dominant performance Friday night to match, if not surpass, the Aeros’ opening-game victory of the Calder Cup finals, the best-of-seven race for the AHL championship has come down to crunch time. Senators goalie Robin Lehner held the Aeros off the scoreboard for the first time since March 22, and Binghamton deadlocked the series 2-2 with a 3-0 win before a sellout crowd of 4,710 at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

Having already done the trick once before this spring, the Binghamton Senators know they can rally from a 3-1 series deficit. But by the way they started Friday’s game against the Houston Aeros, it was apparent they didn’t want to tempt fate again. Showing much more life than they had in Game 3, the B-Sens jumped all over the Aeros from the outset and rarely let up before skating off the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena ice with a 3-0 victory. The second capacity crowd in a row saw Binghamton knot the Calder Cup final at 2-2.

A major lineup shuffle breathed new life into the Binghamton Senators Friday as they rediscoved their lost offence in impressive fashion in front of a spirited sellout crowd. The Senators jumped on the Aeros at the outset, repeatedly peppering Aeros goaltender Matt Hackett until Cody Bass broke the ice. After scoring only four times in the first three games, Senators coach Kurt Kleinendorst altered all four of his lines, hoping it would serve to “freshen” up the outlook. It paid off immediately.

Robin Lehner has posted a lot of remarkable numbers during his first professional playoff run, but one might stand above the rest. The 19-year-old Swedish rookie is 5-0 the game after a Binghamton Senators loss. Lehner added to that streak Friday night, making 21 saves to lead the Senators to a 3-0 win over the Houston Aeros in Game 4 of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup finals.

‘GAME 7 APPROACH’ WORKS FOR B-SENS – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The team in far greater need of a win played hockey accordingly. The Binghamton Senators established the tenor of the contest early on Friday night and convincingly tucked away a 3-0 victory over the Houston Aeros that evened the Calder Cup finals at two games apiece. A Binghamton squad that offered up a mere 15 shots on goal through 40 minutes of play two nights before exited the Broome County Arena ice for the first intermission on the favorable end of a 17-8 advantage.

Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray is in Binghamton for the home portion of his American Hockey League affiliate’s first Calder Cup Finals appearance, and he told the Ottawa Citizen that a trip to Ottawa awaits Kurt Kleinendorst when the series ends. Kleinendorst is among the candidates for the NHL club’s head coaching job, left vacant by the firing of Cory Clouston on April 9. Kleinendorst will interview when the Finals end, and has said he will not think – or talk – about it until then.

Defense, which was one of the Aeros’ strengths in the first three games of the series but was subpar in Game 4, has to improve in the next game, said center Carson McMillan. "(The Senators) move the puck well and, including myself, got us swinging a couple of times," McMillan said. "They make the passes, and they’re a good team like that. We have to worry about our d-zone and playing positions and bearing down on pucks."

Nothing against his roommates Bobby and Opee, but Robin Lehner is homesick. He doesn’t want the cure just yet, however. Yes, Lehner is doing his best to give this town its first Calder Cup, even though it is putting off his travel plans. And to this 19-year-old currently on the longest road trip of his life, the next non-business flight he takes is very important.

One way or another, it rarely takes long for Zack Smith to hear his name called at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. Before Friday’s game, Smith was tied for fifth in AHL playoff scoring. Smith also makes himself noticed on the penalty front, the edge in his hitting game often crossing the referees’ fine line between what’s legal and what’s not. Like most coaches, Kurt Kleinendorst has a set of buzzwords and catchphrases that he often uses. When the topic is Smith, “honest” and “solid” are commonly used.

The Springfield Falcons have announced fund-raising efforts on behalf of this week’s tornado victims – and they are seeking the assistance of their fans. On Friday, the Falcons announced that the team has donated $2,500 to the Pioneer Valley chapter of the American Red Cross. In addition, majority owner Charlie Pompea made a personal donation of $5,000. “The Falcons organization wants to do as much as they can to assist in the relief efforts in all our surrounding communities,” Falcons president and general manager Bruce Landon said in a statement.

13 – Goals scored by Binghamton (7) and Houston (6) in this series, tied for the fewest ever through four games of a Calder Cup Finals… Springfield (9) and Buffalo (4) combined for 13 goals in the first four games of the 1962 championship series, eventually won by the Indians in five.

June 4, 2008 – Chicago scores five times in the second period en route to a 6-1 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and a 3-0 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals.

June 4, 2007Carey Price stops 38 shots and defensemen account for all five goals in Hamilton’s 5-2 win over Hershey in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals.

June 4, 2005Antero Niittymaki makes 48 saves and Patrick Sharp scores 3:50 into the second overtime as Philadelphia takes a 2-0 series lead with a 2-1 win at Chicago in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals.

June 4, 2004Darren Haydar scores at 8:54 of OT to give Milwaukee a 2-1 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and a commanding 3-0 lead in the Calder Cup Finals.

June 4, 2003 – Behind 33 saves from Ty Conklin, Hamilton wins Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals, 4-2 at Houston.

June 4, 2001 – The American Hockey League awards membership to six former International Hockey League franchises – the Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Houston Aeros, Manitoba Moose, Milwaukee Admirals and Utah Grizzlies – as the AHL becomes the sole top development league for the NHL.

June 4, 2000Derek Armstrong finishes with a goal and two assists and claims the Jack Butterfield Trophy as MVP of the playoffs as Hartford wins its first Calder Cup championship with a 4-1 win over Rochester in Game 6.

June 4, 1997 – Eric Messier, Eric Veilleux and Christian Matte each records a goal and an assist as Hershey opens the Calder Cup Finals with a 4-2 win over Hamilton.

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