AHL Morning Skate: May 1

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.

Game 2 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Charlotte 0 (Series tied, 1-1)
Game 3 – Portland 3, BINGHAMTON 2 (BNG leads series, 2-1)

1. Defenseman Tim Conboy scored with 12.5 seconds left in regulation – his first goal since Jan. 17, 2009 – to lift Portland to a 3-2 win in Binghamton in Game 3.

2. Brad Thiessen made 34 saves for his first AHL playoff shutout as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton blanked Charlotte, 3-0, in Game 2 of the East Division Finals.

3. Derek Whitmore scored the game-tying goal and assisted on the game-winner as the Pirates rallied late for a big win at Binghamton.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 2 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 4:00 (HAM leads series, 1-0)
Game 2 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00 (MIL leads series, 1-0)


Playoff Bracket || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Portland Pirates vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 27 – Binghamton 3, PORTLAND 2
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Binghamton 5, PORTLAND 3
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Portland 3, BINGHAMTON 2
Game 4 – Mon., May 2 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 5 – Tue., May 3 – Portland at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 6 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., May 7 – Binghamton at Portland, 7:00

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Charlotte 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 30 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Charlotte 0
Game 3 – Mon., May 2 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 7 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Charlotte at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Manitoba Moose

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – HAMILTON 4, Manitoba 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 4:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W2-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 29 – MILWAUKEE 3, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 10 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 2 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 4:00 (HAM leads series, 1-0)
After a pair of off-days, Manitoba and Hamilton return to the Copps Coliseum ice this afternoon for Game 2 of the North Division Finals, with the Bulldogs holding a 1-0 series lead… A Moose parade to the penalty box in Game 1 on Thursday resulted in 10 power play opportunities for the Bulldogs, who cashed in on two of them and added a shorthanded goal en route to a 4-1 victory… Top-line Hamilton forwards Aaron Palushaj and Nigel Dawes netted the power play strikes; J.T. Wyman scored shorthanded; and Ryan Russell converted at even strength… Palushaj has registered multiple points in three straight outings (2-5-7) since missing Game 4 of Hamilton’s opening-round series against Oklahoma City… Dawes now boasts a three-game goal-scoring streak (4-1-5), and his nine points overall (6-3-9) are tied with Palushaj (3-6-9) for the club lead… The third member of the Bulldogs’ top offensive threesome – Dustin Boyd – chipped in two assists on Thursday and is riding a four-game scoring run (0-6-6)… Wyman now has a goal in back-to-back contests after failing to score in his final five regular-season outings and the first five playoff games… Bulldogs goaltender Drew MacIntyre turned in another strong effort in Game 1, stopping 19 of 20 shots to improve to 5-2 in the postseason… MacIntyre leads all AHL playoff goaltenders in both goals-against average (1.58) and save percentage (.946), and he has surrendered either one or zero goals in three straight games… Manitoba initially took a 1-0 first-period lead in Game 1 when Alexandre Bolduc buried his second goal in as many games, with defensemen Mark Flood and Travis Ramsey picking up helpers… Bolduc, who split the regular season between Manitoba and parent-club Vancouver, contributed nine points (5-4-9) in 13 games during the Moose’s run to the 2009 Calder Cup Finals… Thursday’s loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Moose, who had rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to oust Lake Erie in the division semifinals… AHL All-Rookie goaltender Eddie Lack stopped 86 of 88 shots (.977) in those three victories but surrendered four goals on 37 shots in the opener of this series… Manitoba has now allowed a league-high three shorthanded goals in the playoffs; no other AHL club has let in more than one… Lifetime, the Moose are a respectable 4-6 in AHL postseason series after losing Game 1, which includes rallying in this year’s first round vs. Lake Erie.

Game 2 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00 (MIL leads series, 1-0)
Two nights after suffering its first loss of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs, Houston is out to gain a split in Milwaukee when the teams collide for Game 2 of the West Division Finals… In Friday’s Game 1, the Aeros surrendered the first goal for the fifth time in as many postseason outings this year but were unable to rally back; Houston swept Peoria in the division semifinals despite failing to score first in any of the four games… Steve Begin, a 2001 Calder Cup champion with the Saint John Flames and a veteran of 488 NHL contests, tallied a goal and an assist for the Admirals in the opener after going the entire regular season without recording multiple points in a game… Begin’s goal marked his first in the AHL postseason since scoring in Game 4 of the 2001 Calder Cup Finals against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Admirals Ryan Thang also posted a goal and an assist on Friday, his first multiple-point outing of the postseason… Thang has now found the scoresheet in four consecutive games (2-3-5) and is a team-best plus-10 for the playoffs… Taylor Beck rounded out Milwaukee’s Game 1 offense, and rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis picked up an assist on the play for his first professional point… Ellis, a first-round draft pick (11th overall) by parent-club Nashville in 2009, was making his pro debut after joining the Admirals following a 100-point regular season (24-76-100) for Windsor in the Ontario Hockey League… Admirals leading scorer Gabriel Bourque (5-5-10) picked up an assist in Game 1 and has at least one point in six of his first seven playoff contests… Milwaukee rookie goaltender Jeremy Smith ran his winning streak to four games by making 25 saves on Friday… Smith has stopped 147 of 153 shots (.961) during the hot streak and owns the AHL’s second-best postseason save percentage overall (.943)… The Aeros spoiled Smith’s shutout bid when Colton Gillies buried his third goal of the playoffs with 6:53 gone in the third period… Former AHL rookie of the year Patrick O’Sullivan garnered an assist on the play to take over the team scoring lead (2-3-5); O’Sullivan has a point in each of Houston’s first five playoff tilts… Warren Peters had the other helper for his third postseason point (1-2-3)… After beginning his AHL playoff career on a four-game winning streak, Aeros rookie goaltender Matt Hackett (4-1, 1.94, .911) suffered his first defeat on Friday… All-time, Houston is 1-5 in Calder Cup Playoff series in which it loses Game 1, and Milwaukee is 9-3 after taking a series opener.


The Portland Pirates got a rare goal from defenseman Tim Conboy when they needed it most Saturday night. Moments after stepping onto the ice for his shift, Conboy put in a shot from the top of the slot with 12 seconds left to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 victory against the Binghamton Senators in Game 3 of their series before a near-sellout crowd of 4,637 at Broome County Arena.

Mark Mancari turned some of the most difficult situations the Portland Pirates faced into some of the team’s best chances Saturday night. Mancari’s tireless work led the penalty killing against Binghamton’s league-leading power play. And when Mancari and linemate Luke Adam should have been exhausted from trying to create chances from behind the Senators’ net in the final six minutes, they stayed on the ice just a little longer. Their combined work drew the attention of three Senators, freed the puck from the boards and led to the tying goal.

The way Brian Petrovek keeps talking about “finishing the job” and “crossing the finish line,” you’d swear he was a bricklayer or an Olympic sprinter rather than CEO of a professional hockey team. On the other hand, bricklayers have a pretty good idea how long a job is going to take, and Olympic sprinters know exactly where their finish line is. Petrovek’s objectives, meanwhile, have been unexpectedly elusive for the nearly 11 years he has been running the Portland Pirates’ American Hockey League franchise.

B-SENS LOSE GAME 3 WITH 12 SECONDS LEFT – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Everything seemed to be going the Binghamton Senators’ way on Saturday night until two late goals gave the Portland Pirates life in the Atlantic Division Finals. Tim Conboy scored with 12.5 seconds left in Game 3 to give the Portland Pirates a 3-2 victory and silence a crowd of 4,637 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The B-Sens were five minutes and nine seconds away from 2-1 win and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

There wasn’t much scoring during the first two periods of Saturday’s Game 2 of the East Division Finals between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Charlotte Checkers. But there was plenty of dislike. Crushing hits along the boards, lengthy scrums in front of the net and plenty of roughing minors put some emotion and intensity into the series. “It’s the AHL playoffs. There’s going to be nastiness, big hits and tempers flaring. That’s what it’s all about,” said the Penguins’ Brett Sterling.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play their best when they make it look mean. That message was delivered with bone-rattling hits and post-whistle nastiness en route to a 3-0 victory over the Charlotte Checkers in Game 2 of the East Division finals Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Game 3 of the series, which is tied at a game apiece, is scheduled for Monday in Charlotte.

HOMECOMING TRIP – Citizens’ Voice
Today is a travel day before the East Division finals resume with Game 3 Monday night in Charlotte. If the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins need a tour guide while they’re in North Carolina, forward David Marshall is the man for the job. Marshall spent most of last season with the Checkers when they were an ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. “It’s a great city,” Marshall said. “It’ll be a little different being in the visitors’ locker room.”

If the Charlotte Checkers want to advance to next round of the Calder Cup playoffs, they’re going to have to do something they have never done. They need to beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Charlotte. Reigning American Hockey League Goalie of the Year Brad Thiessen posted a 34-save outing to lead the Penguins to a 3-0 victory in Game 2 of the East Division finals Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena. “He’s a great goalie,” Charlotte Checkers coach Jeff Daniels said. “Tonight’s a perfect example.”

If the Manitoba Moose are going to continue in the Calder Cup playoffs, a win on Sunday in Hamilton would go a long way. The Moose dropped Game 1 against the Bulldogs on Thursday night and desperately need a win in Game 2 on Sunday afternoon at Copps Coliseum to get back in the series. Coming home down 2-0 to a team they have yet to beat in regulation time this season would not exactly be a recipe for success.

Turns out, Mark Chipman doesn’t own the Manitoba Moose. The Hamilton Bulldogs do. It’s been five months, seven games and counting since the Moose last bettered the Bulldogs. An entire winter has come and gone. From Halloween to Easter. From Winnipeg to Hamilton. Not exactly a track record that bodes well for a Manitoba team that now trails the AHL’s North division best-of-seven final 1-0, with Game 2 staring them in the face today.

Rather than view their AHL West Division finals against Milwaukee as a series of between four and seven games, the Aeros are looking at the matchup like a staircase. There are, as Aeros coach Mike Yeo mentioned many times, many levels to the competition in the series, and each needs to be higher than the last. Certainly, it needs to be higher in today’s Game 2 than it was in the series-opening 3-1 loss Friday night.

Matt Halischuk, who contributed 23 points (11-12-23) in 37 regular-season AHL games for Milwaukee in 2010-11, scored at 14:51 of the second overtime Saturday night to give Nashville a critical 2-1 win at Vancouver in Game 2 of the teams’ Western Conference semifinal… Recent AHL graduates David Krejci (2-2-4) and Brad Marchand (2-1-3) combined for seven points as Boston opened up its second-round series with a 7-3 victory at Philadelphia.

171 – Games (regular season and playoffs, AHL and NHL combined) without a goal by Portland defenseman Tim Conboy before he scored the winning goal with 12.5 seconds left in last night’s Game 3 in Binghamton.

4,776 – Average attendance in the first round of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs, up 25.8 percent from last year’s division semifinals and the highest for the opening round since 1997.

May 1, 2007Jason Jaffray records a hat trick and Yannick Tremblay scores the tiebreaking goal with 5:51 left in regulation as Manitoba defeats Grand Rapids, 4-1, in Game 7 of their North Division semifinal.

May 1, 2005 – Ilya Bryzgalov makes 23 saves and Mark Popovic scores with 13 seconds left in regulation as Cincinnati stuns defending champion Milwaukee, 4-3, in Game 7 of their first-round series at the Bradley Center, capping a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.

May 1, 2004Jason Pominville has a goal and an assist and Norm Milley nets the game-winner 17:53 into overtime as Rochester defeats Syracuse, 4-3, in Game 7 of their North Division semifinal.

May 1, 1999Chris Ferraro scores at 17:55 of the second overtime period, giving Hamilton a 3-2 win over Albany in the winner-take-all Game 5 of their conference quarterfinal series.

May 1, 1971 – The Springfield Kings, led by top scorer Butch Goring and goaltender Billy Smith, wrap up a Calder Cup championship with a 5-3 win over the Providence Reds.

May 1, 1963 – In the first AHL game ever played in the month of May, the Buffalo Bisons defeat Hershey, 6-2, in Game 7 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Aud.

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.