AHL Morning Skate: June 8, 2024

A1-Hershey Bears vs. N1-Cleveland Monsters
Game 5 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Hershey leads series, 3-1)

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 – 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

GAME NOTES
Hershey gets another shot at wrapping up the Richard F. Canning Trophy and the Eastern Conference championship in Cleveland as the Monsters host Game 5 tonight... The Bears missed a chance to complete a series sweep when they dropped a 3-2 decision on Thursday, just their second loss of this postseason... Josh Dunne (5-4-9), Roman Ahcan (2-0-2) and Jake Gaudet (3-2-5) scored as the Monsters won a game when facing elimination for the first time in franchise history (1-2)... It was also Cleveland’s first win in eight tries against Hershey this season, and snapped a seven-game home losing streak to the Bears dating back to 2019... After allowing five goals in two periods of work in Game 3, Jet Greaves (6-4, 2.30, .923) turned aside 33 shots in Game 4, including 16 saves in the third period to preserve the win... Alex Whelan (4-3-7) extended his scoring streak to six games with an assist... Denton Mateychuk, the 12th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, made his professional debut for Cleveland on Thursday... Ethen Frank (9-3-12) extended his goal-scoring streak to seven games, one shy of the Bears franchise playoff record set by Harvie Pocza in 1981... Garrett Roe (5-4-9) also scored for Hershey in Game 4, giving him five goals in eight playoff games after scoring seven times in 48 contests during the regular season... Roe now has points in seven straight games... Hunter Shepard (9-2, 1.95, .925) made 28 stops but saw his seven-game winning streak stopped... The Bears are 7-for-20 (35.0 percent) on the power play in the series and have scored at least one power-play goal in eight straight games (12-for-37, 32.4 percent)... The Monsters are 1-for-10 over the last three games after scoring two power-play goals in Game 1... Excluding shootouts, Hershey has not lost back-to-back games since Games 1 and 2 of the 2023 Calder Cup Finals last June 8-10... Cleveland has averaged 12,078 fans per game over six playoff dates at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse thus far; the AHL record for a single postseason is 11,522, set by the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1997.

P1-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. C1-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 5 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Coachella Valley leads series, 3-1)

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 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

GAME NOTES
Coachella Valley visits Milwaukee in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals tonight, again needing a win to capture the Robert W. Clarke Trophy for the second year in a row... The Admirals kept their season alive with a resounding 7-2 win in Game 4 on Thursday night, scoring five unanswered goals over the final 27:16 of the contest and ending the Firebirds’ nine-game winning streak... Fedor Svechkov (6-5-11) scored two power-play goals as Milwaukee snapped an 0-for-20 slump with the man advantage... Svechkov added an assist for a three-point night, and Roland McKeown (2-2-4), scoreless in his previous nine games, recorded a goal and two assists... Joakim Kemell (2-8-10) and Phil Tomasino (5-1-6) contributed a goal and an assist each as Milwaukee became the first team all season to score seven goals in a game on Coachella Valley... Zach L’Heureux (10-5-15) netted his league-leading 10th goal of the playoffs, while Wade Allison (1-1-2) scored his first career postseason goal in Game 4... Troy Grosenick (5-4, 2.37, .914) made 23 saves, shutting out the Firebirds over the final two periods... Coachella Valley defenseman Connor Carrick (1-5-6) scored his first playoff goal since 2016, when his 18 points in 15 postseason games for Toronto led the entire AHL... Rookie Logan Morrison (1-5-6) picked up his first career playoff goal for the Firebirds... Chris Driedger (9-2, 2.43, .923) stopped 26 of 32 shots in Game 4... The Admirals, who never led through the first three games of the series, never trailed on Thursday... Milwaukee is now 5-0 when facing elimination this postseason; the 2001 Providence Bruins hold the record, staving off elimination six times in a single postseason... Coachella Valley is 6-4 all-time with a chance to close out a series... Excluding shootouts, the Firebirds have not lost consecutive games since a three-game slide from Dec. 17-23.

“I believe, and our team believes, that we can beat anybody in one game,” Monsters head coach Trent Vogelhuber told reporters after Thursday’s 3-2 win against Hershey in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Facing elimination, the Monsters proved Vogelhuber’s words to be true. Now they have a chance to do it again tonight in Game 5, still down 3-1 in the series.

As he always does, Vogelhuber will continue to stress a shift-by-shift approach for his players. To win this series, Cleveland will have to defeat the AHL regular-season champion Bears three more times. The second-year coach, who won a Calder Cup playing for the Monsters in 2016, prefers to break down that massive task to something much more manageable.

“You look at the big picture, and it seems insurmountable,” Vogelhuber said. “Stick to shift by shift, period to period, game by game…”

The Monsters made a change to their defensive corps in Game 4 as 2022 first-round pick Denton Mateychuk made his pro debut. The Western Hockey League defenseman of the year fit in well on a blue line that has been without regulars Jake Christiansen and Cole Clayton.

The coaches’ message to Mateychuk?

“‘Be yourself and play your game,’” he said. “‘You don’t have to make that special play just because you’re up here. Just be you.’”

Five times this postseason the Admirals have been on the brink of elimination, and five times they have delivered a win, most recently in Thursday’s 7-2 win over the Firebirds to cut the Western Conference Finals deficit to 3-1.

“They just want to continue the season,” head coach Karl Taylor said of his close-knit club in his postgame media session. “There’s a lot of desperation in the room. This is a group that is really tight. They don’t want it to end, so there’s a level of desperation and a care for each other that you saw come out.”

Taylor felt that the Admirals were able to channel their energy and emotion productively in Game 4. And after the potent Coachella Valley attack produced 12 first-period shots, Milwaukee limited the visitors to just 13 in the final two periods.

“We were able to play with some structure, and that’s the balance,” Taylor added. “You can’t just run around.”

Said forward Phil Tomasino, “I thought as the game went on our whole group didn’t give them an inch.”

Only three teams in AHL history have won a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0, but that number jumps to 18 teams who have done it after being down 3-1.

The most recent team to accomplish the feat was the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2013, who like Cleveland and Milwaukee lost the first three games before coming all the way back. Before that, the Manitoba Moose and Binghamton Senators both completed comebacks from 3-1 deficits in 2011.

The Monsters and Admirals have already bucked one trend: of the 140 previous teams to be down three games to none, only 35 percent had even managed to force a Game 5.

― with files from Patrick Williams

The Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers face off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight, with rosters stocked with graduates of the American Hockey League... Among the group are seven former AHL All-Stars, including the Oilers’ Evan Bouchard and the Panthers’ Brandon Montour... In 2023-24, 87 percent of all NHL players were graduates of the American Hockey League.

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.