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.
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 – BINGHAMTON 4, Houston 2
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
SATURDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Zack Smith broke a 2-2 deadlock in Game 5 by scoring twice to lead Binghamton to a 4-2 win over Houston and a 3-2 series lead.
2. Senators rookie goaltender Robin Lehner turned aside 41 of 43 shots in the winning effort.
3. Jean-Michel Daoust registered both goals for the Aeros, his first two points of the series.
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 6 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:05 (BNG leads series, 3-2)
TV: Time Warner Cable 23 & HD 813 (Binghamton), Rogers Sportsnet Sens
Satellite Radio: NHL Home Ice (Sirius 207, XM 92)
Video Webcast: AHL Live (www.ahllive.com)
Series Preview: http://theahl.com/finals-p171201
After missing the playoffs in five consecutive springs from 2006-10, the Binghamton Senators are one win away from a Calder Cup championship as they visit the Houston Aeros in Game 6 of the 2011 Calder Cup Finals tonight at Toyota Center… The Senators, vying for the first title ever for a city whose professional hockey history dates back to 1973, are coming off home-ice wins in Games 4 and 5 that allowed them to bring a 3-2 series lead back to Houston… Zack Smith, without a goal since his hat trick in Game 3 of the conference finals vs. Charlotte on May 17, scored twice in Game 5 on Saturday night to snap a 2-2 tie and send Binghamton to a 4-2 victory… Smith (8-12-20) became the third Senators forward to reach the 20-point mark this postseason, joining captain Ryan Keller (9-15-24) and AHL playoff scoring leader Ryan Potulny (14-12-26)… Potulny picked up his first point of the series with an assist on Smith’s game-winning goal Saturday… Corey Locke and Erik Condra also netted goals for the Senators in the Game 5 win… The former Aeros forward Locke, bidding for his second Calder Cup title after winning it all with Hamilton in 2007 – clinching the series four years ago today – missed the first round vs. Manchester this spring due to injury but has averaged nearly a point per game (3-11-14 in 15 games) since his return in round two… Locke is also trying to become the fourth consecutive player to win the Calder Cup in the same season as being named AHL MVP, following Hershey’s Keith Aucoin (2010) and Alexandre Giroux (2009) and Chicago’s Jason Krog (2008)… Senators defenseman Andre Benoit, also a member of Hamilton’s 2007 championship squad, ran his assist streak to three games (0-3-3) by picking up the lone helper on Locke’s first-period goal… Binghamton’s Bobby Butler (12-4-16) is without a goal in a playoff-high three straight contests but did earn an assist in the Game 5 victory, and the rookie has scored eight goals in the Senators’ last nine road games… Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner (13-4, 2.11, .939) stopped 41 of 43 shots in net for the Senators, making at least 40 saves in a game for the fourth time this postseason… Since allowing four goals on 14 shots to Portland in Game 5 of the Atlantic Division Finals on May 3, Lehner is 7-2 (1.45, .957) with three shutouts… Jean-Michel Daoust netted both of Houston’s goals on Saturday, his second and third markers of the playoffs and first two points of the series… Forwards Jed Ortmeyer (6-7-13), Warren Peters (4-8-12) and Colton Gillies (7-5-12), three of Houston’s top four playoff scorers, combined for six points in the Aeros’ 3-1 win in Game 1 of the Finals but have been held without a point in the four games since… Top Houston scorer Patrick O’Sullivan (4-13-17) shows just two assists in the series, both coming in a 2-1 victory in Game 3… Matt Hackett (14-9, 2.47, .903) has started all 23 of the Aeros’ games in these playoffs entering Game 6; Chicago’s Ondrej Pavelec owns the AHL record with 24 appearances in one postseason (2008)… After an 0-for-4 showing in Game 5, the Aeros are 1-for-17 on the power play in the series and 2-for-their-last-35 overall (5.7 percent)… Binghamton has converted four of its 21 power play opportunities (19.0 percent) in the series… The Aeros are 2-0 when facing elimination this spring, having won Game 7’s against Milwaukee and Hamilton in the previous two rounds, while the Senators are 3-1 with a chance to eliminate an opponent from these playoffs… The Senators are 9-2 away from home this postseason, tying the AHL record for road victories in a single postseason (Philadelphia, 1998)… The Aeros are trying to force a Game 7 – where they are 6-0 in their AHL history – but Houston is 1-7 all-time in Game 6’s… This is the fourth consecutive Finals series to go six games; there has not been a Game 7 since 2003 (Houston vs. Hamilton).
NOREAU KNOWS SITUATION GOING INTO GAME 6 – Houston Chronicle
Two years ago, Aeros defenseman Maxim Noreau was part of a team that took the Manitoba Moose to six games in the AHL Western Conference finals. Manitoba was the better team, but the Aeros were excellent offensively and on a seemingly magical run at the end of that season. Noreau, now the longest-tenured Aeros player with four seasons in Houston, says he is ready to take the next step.
ORTMEYER LEADS AEROS THROUGH EXAMPLE – Houston Chronicle
The Aeros’ Jed Ortmeyer, a veteran of 310 NHL games, doesn’t wear the captain’s “C” or the alternate’s “A” on his sweater, but the rugged right wing is carrying the team on his back in its pursuit of the Calder Cup. Ortmeyer and linemates Colton Gillies and Warren Peters personify the team’s brand of hockey by being defensively responsible against the opposition’s top scoring line and contributing to the offense when the opportunity arises. Ortmeyer’s playing style is infectious, and the team has caught on.
SENATORS WARY OF DESPERATE AEROS – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
For the first time in Binghamton’s 37-year pro hockey history, fans will wake up this morning knowing their team is just hours away from the chance to capture a championship. The American Hockey League’s Senators are one win from a Calder Cup title, and get their first chance to earn it in Game 6 of the finals Tuesday at the Toyota Center. Fifteen game-winning pucks are locked into the commemorative board the B-Sens created at the start of this postseason, and filling out the final spot promises to be their biggest challenge yet.
SENATORS CARRY ON WITHOUT STIRLING – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The Binghamton Senators already wanted to win a Calder Cup for themselves, their franchise and their city. Now, they want to make sure they bring home that championship for assistant coach Steve Stirling. Stirling, 62, is at UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City recuperating from emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery performed Sunday evening.
BINGHAMTON DISPLAYS SENATORS PRIDE – Ottawa Citizen
The cheery server at Java Joe’s on State Street apologizes. They’ve run out of ingredients to make the Oriental Chicken Salad. “It’s this hockey thing,” she says, shaking her head. “We just can’t keep up.” Indeed, the Binghamton Senators run towards the Calder Cup has created longer than usual lineups in the eateries in Binghamton’s small downtown, added a spark to the nightlife and helped fill hotel rooms. All in all it has given a boost to a community that has been hit hard by the loss of jobs and a general movement toward nearby suburbs.
CUNNEYWORTH DESTINED FOR NHL RANKS AFTER SUCCESS WITH BULLDOGS – Montreal Gazette
The Hamilton Bulldogs had a surprisingly successful season in the American Hockey League, but head coach Randy Cunneyworth said it took a few days for that fact to sink in after his team was eliminated by the Houston Aeros in Game 7 of the Western Conference final. Much has been made of Guy Boucher and his success in Hamilton before moving on to a successful season as a rookie NHL head coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. But you could make an argument that Cunneyworth and assistant Randy Ladouceur trumped Boucher’s performance.
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
On Monday night, 2003 Calder Cup finalist Michael Ryder registered three points (1-2-3) while Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Daniel Paille and 2001 AHL All-Star Andrew Ference had a goal and an assist apiece as Boston rolled to an 8-1 win over Vancouver in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, cutting the Canucks’ series lead to 2-1… Tim Thomas made 40 saves in the victory… Jannik Hansen, a 21-goal scorer with AHL Manitoba in 2007-08, tallied Vancouver’s lone goal of the night.
BY THE NUMBERS:
4 – Teams in AHL history that have won a Calder Cup Finals series after trailing 3-2… Rochester (1987 vs. Sherbrooke) lost Game 5 before winning the final two games, while Buffalo (1946 vs. Cleveland), Hershey (1947 vs. Pittsburgh) and Providence (1949 vs. Hershey) all rallied from 3-1 down to win the championship.
13 – Series, of 15 played this postseason, that went at least six games.
Bid now on jerseys and game pucks from the 2011 Calder Cup Finals, available for auction from AHL Authentic… Visit stores.ebay.com/AHL-Authentic for details.
June 7, 2009 – Michal Neuvirth stops 30 of 31 shots as Hershey takes a 3-1 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals with a 2-1 win over Manitoba in Game 4.
June 7, 2008 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scores five unanswered goals over the game’s final 28 minutes, staving off elimination for a second straight night with a 5-1 victory over Chicago in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals.
June 7, 2007 – In front of 14,205 fans at Copps Coliseum, Ajay Baines’ shorthanded goal midway through the third period lifts Hamilton to a 2-1 win over Hershey and the Bulldogs’ first Calder Cup championship.
June 7, 2003 – Houston grabs a 3-2 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals with a 6-4 win over Hamilton in the last game ever played at the Compaq Center.
June 7, 1998 – Martin St. Louis records three assists as Saint John avoids elimination with a 6-1 home win over Philadelphia in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals.
June 7, 1997 – After a wild third period that saw five goals scored in the final 12:12 of regulation, Mike McHugh scores 56 seconds into overtime to give Hershey a 6-5 win over Hamilton and a 2-0 series lead in the Calder Cup Finals.
Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2011 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.