AHL Morning Skate: June 4, 2024

A1-Hershey Bears vs. N1-Cleveland Monsters
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:00 ET, , NHL Network
(Hershey leads series, 2-0)

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 at Cleveland, 7:00
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – Hershey at Cleveland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – Hershey at Cleveland, 7:00
*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

The Eastern Conference Finals shift to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse tonight, with Cleveland looking to get back in the series after a pair of overtime decisions in Hershey gave the Bears a 2-0 lead... Pierrick Dubé (2-1-3) scored the winning goal at 13:54 of OT in Game 2 on Saturday, sending the Bears to their sixth straight win... It is the longest postseason winning streak by a Hershey team since the 2010 club won seven in a row on their way to capturing the Calder Cup... Hunter Shepard (8-1, 1.83, .927) made 34 saves in Game 2 and improved to 6-0 for his career in playoff overtime games; Shepard has stopped all 32 shots he has faced in 66:27 of sudden-death time over the last two postseasons... Garrett Roe (4-3-7) extended his scoring streak to five games with a goal on Saturday, and Ethen Frank (7-2-9) made it five straight games with a goal for Hershey... Frank now has 6-7-13 in six contests against Cleveland this season, all Bears wins... Chase Priskie (2-7-9) has gotten on the scoresheet in each of Hershey’s last six games... Josh Dunne (4-3-7) and David Jiricek (3-6-9) scored for the Monsters on Saturday... Jiricek, who forced overtime with a goal with 19.1 seconds left in regulation of Game 1, did it again with a goal at the 18:27 mark of the third period in Game 2... Justin Pearson (2-6-8) picked up an assist in Game 2, his sixth consecutive game with a point... Jet Greaves (5-3, 1.94, .932) stopped 27 shots in the loss... The Monsters are 4-0 at home during these playoffs, but they have lost six straight on home ice to Hershey since they last defeated the Bears on Mar. 24, 2019... Eight of Cleveland’s nine games this postseason have been decided by one goal, or by two goals including an empty-netter... The Bears are 3-for-12 on the power play in the series, while the Monsters are 2-for-9... The last four playoff meetings between these teams have all gone to overtime, with Cleveland winning the last two games of the 2016 Calder Cup Finals before Hershey’s two victories last week.

P1-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. C1-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 3 – Tonight, 8:00 ET,
(Coachella Valley leads series, 2-0)

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 at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 10 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 12 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Milwaukee hosts Coachella Valley in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals tonight, looking to get in the win column after the Firebirds grabbed a 2-0 series lead with wins back in Palm Desert last Wednesday and Friday... Coachella Valley brings an eight-game winning streak into tonight’s contest, the longest in the Calder Cup Playoffs since Toronto won eight in a row during the 2019 postseason... Andrew Poturalski (2-6-8) and Kole Lind (4-3-7) each tallied a goal and an assist in the Firebirds’ 3-1 win in Game 2... Poturalski’s goal 28 seconds into the contest was the fastest strike to begin a game in the AHL this postseason... Ryker Evans (2-3-5) also scored, his first goal since the playoff opener at Calgary on May 3... Chris Driedger (8-1, 2.09, .933) has stopped 68 of 70 Admirals shots to begin the series (.971)... Ozzy Wiesblatt (2-5-7) scored Milwaukee’s only goal in Game 2... Troy Grosenick (4-3, 2.17, .923) made 31 saves for the Admirals, who trail 0-2 for the third time in their last four playoff series; they lost to the Firebirds in six games in last year’s conference finals, and rallied to defeat Texas, 3-2, in the division semifinals earlier this postseason... Twenty-five teams in AHL history have won a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games, most recently Hershey in last year’s Calder Cup Finals against Coachella Valley... Four of Milwaukee’s top seven playoff scorers are rookies: Zach L’Heureux (9-5-14), Joakim Kemell (1-7-8), Fedor Svechkov (3-4-7) and Ryan Ufko (1-6-7)... The Firebirds are 2-for-10 on the power play in the series... The Admirals are 0-for-8 in the series and 0-for-17 going back to Game 3 vs. Grand Rapids last round... Coachella Valley is 18-4 at home but 5-8 on the road over the last two postseasons... Since 2019, Milwaukee is 15-6 in home playoff games but 5-16 on the road... Eighteen spots in the Firebirds’ 20-man lineup have been the same for all nine games so far this postseason.

Chris Driedger’s career has had plenty of ups and downs, and his play this postseason could lead to significant peak if he and the Firebirds can secure six more wins.

Coming off an injury-shortened 2022-23 season, Driedger, who backed up Joey Daccord during Coachella Valley’s postseason journey last year, has been the backbone of the Firebirds team since opening night. He went 24-7-7 with four shutouts in the regular season, posting a .917 save percentage and ranking fourth in the league with a 2.26 goals-against average.

In nine playoff games, his numbers are even more impressive: an 8-1 record, a 2.09 GAA and a .933 save percentage, allowing just 19 goals on 285 shots.

“He’s an NHL goalie,” Firebirds head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters after Driedger’s 31-save performance in Game 2 against Milwaukee on Friday night. “He’s proven it over and over again and he’s been that for us all year long.

“He’s playing pretty special right now. It’s a huge comfort to have him in the net, going into every game knowing you’re going to get elite goaltending.”

The Columbus Blue Jackets have assigned 19-year-old defenseman Denton Mateychuk to the Monsters.

Mateychuk’s junior season with Moose Jaw (WHL) ended on Saturday with a loss in the semifinals of the Memorial Cup. He was named to the tournament all-star team and was selected as the tournament’s most sportsmanlike player. Mateychuk was also named the Western Hockey League’s outstanding defenseman for 2023-24.

The native of Dominion City, Man., was the 12th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. He tallied 75 points in 52 regular-season games along with 30 points in 20 postseason contests for Moose Jaw this year.

― with files from Patrick Williams

The 2024 Stanley Cup Final gets underway on Saturday, pitting the Edmonton Oilers against the Florida Panthers... Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch was named to that post on Nov. 12 after having spent more than four years as head coach of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack... Panthers head coach Paul Maurice is also an AHL coaching graduate; he guided the Toronto Marlies in their inaugural season in 2005-06... Florida general manager Bill Zito was GM of the Lake Erie Monsters when they won the Calder Cup in 2016.

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.