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 7 – Houston 4, MILWAUKEE 2 (HOU wins series, 4-3)
TUESDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Rookie forward Casey Wellman broke a 2-2 tie with 1:21 left in regulation, sending Houston to a 4-2 road win over Milwaukee in Game 7 of the West Division Finals.
2. Forward Matt Halischuk returned to Milwaukee from an NHL stint in Nashville and recorded a goal and an assist.
3. Rookie Gabriel Bourque concluded an impressive postseason showing with a goal and an assist for the Admirals.
TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 1 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05
Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E3-Charlotte Checkers vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Thu., May 12 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05
Game 2 – Fri., May 13 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 21 – Charlotte at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Mon., May 23 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05
Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. N1-Hamilton Bulldogs
Game 1 – Fri., May 13 – Hamilton at Houston, 8:35
Game 2 – Sun., May 15 – Hamilton at Houston, 5:05
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 5 – Fri., May 20 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 22 – Hamilton at Houston, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Hamilton at Houston, 8:05
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 – BINGHAMTON 6, Portland 1
Game 5 – Tue., May 3 – Portland 6, BINGHAMTON 2
Game 6 – Fri., May 6 – Binghamton 3, PORTLAND 0
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 – CHARLOTTE 2, W-B/Scranton 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – CHARLOTTE 1, W-B/Scranton 0
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – W-B/Scranton 1, CHARLOTTE 0
Game 6 – Sat., May 7 – Charlotte 4, W-B/SCRANTON 3
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 – HAMILTON 4, Manitoba 2
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – MANITOBA 5, Hamilton 4
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – MANITOBA 2, Hamilton 1 (2OT)
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Hamilton 5, MANITOBA 1
Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Manitoba 1, HAMILTON 0
Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – HAMILTON 2, Manitoba 1 (3OT)
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 2, MILWAUKEE 0
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Milwaukee 5, HOUSTON 3
Game 4 – Thu., May 5 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – MILWAUKEE 5, Houston 4 (OT)
Game 7 – Tue., May 10 – Houston 4, MILWAUKEE 2
*if necessary… All times Eastern
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 1 – Binghamton at Charlotte, 7:05
TV: Time Warner Cable digital 520 (Carolinas), Time Warner Cable Sports 23 (Central NY)
The Eastern Conference Finals are set to begin tonight in North Carolina as East Division rivals Charlotte and Binghamton clash at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Game 1… The Checkers have reached the AHL’s final four in their first season, and the Senators are in the conference finals for the first time since their inaugural season of 2002-03… Both Charlotte and Binghamton knocked off a pair of higher-seeded teams to reach this point; the Checkers ousted two-time defending Calder Cup champion Hershey and 2010-11 regular-season champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while the Senators crossed over to the Atlantic Division’s playoff bracket and eliminated both Manchester and Portland, clinching both series on the road… Binghamton forward Ryan Potulny leads the AHL in postseason scoring with 10 goals and 19 points in 13 games, despite going scoreless in the final two games of the division finals vs. Portland… Kaspars Daugavins led the league with six goals in the second round, finishing with 6-2-8 against the Pirates after being held to 2-1-3 in seven games vs. Manchester… Sens captain Ryan Keller shows 5-5-10 in his last seven games and 6-10-16 total for the postseason… Bobby Butler, who played 36 games down the stretch for parent-club Ottawa this season, is tied for the AHL lead among rookies with seven goals thus far (7-2-9)… Butler, Potulny and Daugavins each have three power-play goals this postseason for a Binghamton man-advantage unit which is tops among the four conference finalists at 21.7 percent (13-for-60)… Senators rookie goaltender Robin Lehner, who did not face Charlotte in any of the teams’ eight regular-season meetings, is coming off a 36-save shutout in Binghamton’s series-clinching Game 6 win at Portland on May 6… Charlotte’s offense is paced by AHL All-Rookie forward Zac Dalpe (5-7-12) and 23-year-old fourth-year pro Brett Sutter (4-7-11), a duo which has combined for 23 points and a plus-10 rating through the Checkers’ first 12 playoff games… Dalpe leads all remaining AHL rookies with his 12 points, and Sutter’s 11-point playoff output comes on the heels of a regular season which saw him total 21 points (9-12-21) in 60 games for Charlotte… Only five different players – Chris Terry (3), Dalpe (2), Sutter (2), Jon Matsumoto (2) and Nick Dodge (1) – scored for the Checkers in their second-round win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as Charlotte tied an AHL record for fewest goals scored in a six-game playoff series (10)… The Checkers also allowed only 10 goals to the Penguins (including one empty-netter), as Mike Murphy stopped 190 of 199 shots in the series… Murphy (7-3) ranks first in the AHL in save percentage (.944) and third in goals-against average (1.79) this postseason… The Checkers were 3-for-33 on the power play in the second round (1-for-27 over the last five games), but 31-for-34 on the penalty kill (25-for-26 over the last five)… Binghamton brings a six-game road winning streak into Game 1; Charlotte is 4-2 on home ice during the playoffs.
CHECKERS FACE OFF AGAINST A HIGH-POWERED OFFENSE – Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte Checkers’ playoff series against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton turned into low-scoring, goaltending-dominated defensive struggle with 20 combined goals. But fans watching the Eastern Conference Finals with the Binghamton Senators likely will see more points rung up. The Checkers ranked second in regular-season scoring, and the Senators have scored more goals (46) than any other playoff team so far.
TWO UPSTARTS SQUARE OFF IN CONFERENCE FINALS – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Dig up the preseason predictions for the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference and you’ll find the Charlotte Checkers in the middle of the pack and the Binghamton Senators further down the list. After slow starts with plenty of obstacles, neither team was considered a lock to reach the playoffs at all. Once they did, the odds were against them beating out the top seeds from their respective playoff divisions. Somehow, they both found a way, and their efforts earned them a meeting in the conference finals, set to begin with Game 1 Thursday.
VIDEO: JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME – ESPN.com
When the Albany River Rats moved to Charlotte, 11-year-old Zach Bennett thought he lost his inspiration to fight through a degenerative disease that had taken both his legs. So Zach’s plea to “be with the guys” became a unified mission.
ALL CUNNEYWORTH DOES IS WIN – Hamilton Spectator
Most teams have that one guy who’s always last off the ice. Long after the rest of the team has headed to the dressing room, he’s still out there skating and shooting and just generally lost in his own hockey world. The Hamilton Bulldogs have a guy like that. Except in their case, he’s the head coach. It’d be easier to get a tongue off a frozen metal pole than it is to get Randy Cunneyworth off the ice after practice.
AEROS GROWING MORE CONFIDENT – Houston Chronicle
With less than two minutes left in the first Game 7 of his professional career, Aeros goalie Matt Hackett made the biggest stop of his rookie season. After the key save, Hackett hopped up on the ice and watched the Aeros do what the Admirals could not – win the AHL’s West Division finals. “I saw (Casey Wellman’s) hands go up in the air, and I just started jumping up and down,” Hackett said. “I can’t explain how that felt. It’s the greatest feeling ever.”
ADMIRALS NOT READY FOR SHORE LEAVE – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kelsey Wilson wasn’t quite ready to leave. Houston had just eliminated Milwaukee from the West Division Finals, and the Admirals were exiting the ice, one by one. Wilson, an unrestricted free agent, was the last to leave. He stood, resting his hands and chin atop his hockey stick and looked across the ice. After skating closer to the exit, Wilson paused one more time, took another look around and left the Bradley Center rink for perhaps the last time. “I was just kind of taking it all in,” said Wilson, who finished his fourth season in Milwaukee. “I love playing here.”
MOOSE PLAYERS PROUD OF SEASON DESPITE ELIMINATION – Canadian Press
Eddie Lack found no solace in being part of AHL history. The Moose rookie netminder gave up the winning goal six seconds into the third overtime period Monday, handing the North Division final to Hamilton. Lack had stopped 55 shots in what was longest Game 7 in the AHL’s 75-year history. “That was the game that I, of course, really wanted to win,” Lack said. “I wouldn’t mind playing hockey for another month, but that’s just how it goes.”
LACK HAS BIG FUTURE AFTER STELLAR ROOKIE SEASON – Winnipeg Free Press
Shot No. 57 was the innocuous killer. Until that moment, six seconds into the sixth period of Game 7 on Monday night, Manitoba Moose netminder Eddie Lack had been fending off the surging Hamilton Bulldogs as if there was no tomorrow. And there wasn’t. A puck that Bulldogs’ Dustin Boyd had haphazardly wacked had somehow arched over Lack’s shoulder into the Manitoba net for a 2-1 Hamilton victory. It was an unfortunate end to a dream season for the Swedish rookie who came to Vancouver Canucks training camp last September as a complete unknown.
NOEL’S FIRST SEASON WITH MOOSE ‘CONSTANT LEARNING’ – Winnipeg Sun
After the Manitoba Moose were bounced from the Calder Cup playoffs in triple overtime of the seventh game of the North Division final by the Hamilton Bulldogs, Claude Noel was holding exit meetings with his players on Wednesday. In many ways, it was a challenging season for Noel as he searched for answers regarding his team’s identity. However, during the playoffs he seemed to squeeze the most out of the group.
PLAYOFF EXIT TORMENTS MOOSE – Winnipeg Free Press
For 80 games and then the first one of the playoffs, the Manitoba Moose said most of the right things but didn’t always match their play with their words. Then something happened against the Lake Erie Monsters, and the Moose rallied to win that series in seven games and come painfully close to knocking out the Hamilton Bulldogs, only to lose in the AHL’s longest-ever Game 7 on Monday. It was a painful, triple-overtime bounce that still stung two days later as the team met formally for the last time and cleaned out their locker room.
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
On Tuesday night, 2006 AHL All-Star Valtteri Filppula broke a 1-1 tie midway through the third period and Darren Helm added an empty-netter as Detroit forced Game 7 in its Western Conference semifinal with a 3-1 win over Vancouver… 2008 AHL All-Star goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Red Wings, and 2010 AHL All-Rookie forward Logan Couture netted the Sharks’ lone goal.
GAME 7 BY THE NUMBERS:
19-3 – Since 2000, series record of the Game 1 winner during the conference finals round.
8 – Games won by the Binghamton Senators this postseason, tying the 1982 Whalers and the 2003 Senators for the most victories in a single playoff by a Binghamton AHL club.
ON THIS DATE:
May 12, 2009 – Michal Neuvirth becomes the first goaltender in AHL history to record shutouts in Games 6 and 7 of a series, leading Hershey to the conference finals with a 3-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
May 12, 2004 – Kari Lehtonen stops 43 of 44 shots as Chicago avoids elimination with a 2-1 win at Milwaukee in Game 5 of the West Division Finals.
May 12, 1998 – Dan Cloutier makes 52 saves, Derek Armstrong scores and Marc Savard adds two assists as Hartford keeps its season alive with a 4-1 win at Worcester in Game 6 of their division final series.
May 12, 1984 – Bud Stefanski scores his second overtime goal of the series as the Maine Mariners take a 3-2 victory and a 3-1 series lead over Rochester in the Calder Cup Finals.
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