AHL Morning Skate: May 15

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 – Binghamton 3, CHARLOTTE 0 (BNG leads series, 2-0)
Game 1 – HOUSTON 2, Hamilton 1 (HOU leads series, 1-0)

1. Rookie goaltender Matt Hackett stopped 38 of 39 shots as Houston held on for a 2-1 win over Hamilton in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

2. First-year backstop Robin Lehner recorded a 35-save shutout to send Binghamton home with a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

3. Ryan Potulny extended his league lead with his 12th and 13th goals of these playoffs in the Senators’ 3-0 win at Charlotte.

Game 2 – Hamilton at Houston, 5:05 (HOU leads series, 1-0)

Playoff Bracket
|| Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E3-Charlotte Checkers vs. E5-Binghamton Senators

Game 1 – Thu., May 12 – Binghamton 7, CHARLOTTE 4
Game 2 – Fri., May 13 – Binghamton 3, CHARLOTTE 0
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 – HOUSTON 2, Hamilton 1
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

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 2 – Hamilton at Houston, 5:05 (HOU leads series, 1-0)
Webcast: AHLLive.com
The Western Conference Finals resume this afternoon when Houston and Hamilton square off for Game 2 at Toyota Center… The Aeros earned a 2-1 victory in Friday’s series opener, their fifth win in six home games this postseason… Chad Rau and Jed Ortmeyer tallied goals in the winning effort, and rookie goaltender Matt Hackett made 38 saves, including 20 in the third period, to improve to 9-3 in 12 playoff appearances… Hackett’s 2.19 goals-against average is now good for fifth among AHL postseason goaltenders and second among conference finalists behind only Hamilton’s Drew MacIntyre (1.66)… The 21-year-old Hackett has turned aside 68 of 71 shots (.958) over his last two contests… Rau tallied his fourth goal of the postseason, while Ortmeyer scored for the first time since Houston’s playoff opener vs. Peoria back on Apr. 13… Rookie forward Casey Wellman picked up an assist for the Aeros and now has 1-3-4 in his last four games after registering 1-2-3 in his first eight playoff outings… Maxim Noreau helped out on a power-play goal by Rau, and the First Team AHL All-Star defenseman has 1-5-6 in his last five matches… Among AHL defenseman, Noreau is tied for second in both assists (8) and points (9) through 12 contests, and six of his eight assists have come on the power play… Aeros playoff scoring leader Patrick O’Sullivan was held without a point for a second straight game… Colton Gillies continues to pace Houston with six goals (6-0-6) this postseason… Rau’s strike improved Houston to 10-for-60 (16.7 percent) on the power play in the playoffs, and it was only the sixth power-play goal allowed by Hamilton’s penalty kill (59-for-65, 90.8 percent)… The Bulldogs were about to be shut out in Game 1 before defenseman Mathieu Carle finally solved Hackett with 51.0 seconds left in the third period, collecting a rebound of a Frederic St. Denis shot… It marked Carle’s second goal of the playoffs and first since Game 2 of the last round vs. Manitoba… Nigel Dawes (9-6-15) was also credited with an assist on Carle’s goal, sliding into fourth place on the AHL playoff scoring list… MacIntyre (8-6) made 26 saves in net, allowing two goals or fewer in 12 of his 14 playoff appearances this spring… Hamilton is now just 2-5 on the road during the 2011 playoffs compared to a 6-1 mark at Copps Coliseum, and Friday was the Bulldogs’ first Game 1 defeat of the spring… Houston has won nine of 10 AHL playoff series after capturing Game 1; Hamilton is 3-9 in series after losing Game 1… The Aeros were outshot in Game 1 (39-28) for just the second time in 12 games this postseason… There will be a moment of silence prior to today’s game in memory of former Aeros forward Derek Boogaard, who died Friday at the age of 28.


The Aeros and Hamilton Bulldogs don’t hate each other. There is no rivalry between the AHL teams that have played just 20 times over the years, with seven of those being Calder Cup finals games in 2003. Typically scheduled to play twice during the regular season, the Aeros and Bulldogs know little about each other. All of that is going to change over the next week as they battle to decide who is going to compete for the Calder Cup.

Any researcher or statistician will tell you a sample size of one is way too small from which to draw many conclusions. You need to see an experiment performed a few times at least before you can start predicting future outcomes. The opening game of the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Final was a perfect example of why. Hamilton lost the first half of the contest and looked completely outclassed doing it. But they were the substantially better team in the second half and came oh-so-close to sending it to overtime before losing 2-1.

PRESSURE, WHAT PRESSURE? – Hamilton Spectator
Just about everybody in the game will tell you playoff hockey is more difficult than its regular-season brother. A championship is on the line. The lousy teams are already working on their tans so there are no soft touches or easy nights. Playing the same team several games in a row eliminates secret weaknesses and builds up animosity and intensity. The speed is up, the hitting is harder and the pressure is exaggerated.

The Binghamton Senators traveled home Saturday holding a 2-0 lead over the Charlotte Checkers in the Eastern Conference Finals after back-to-back wins at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Those victories pushed the B-Sens’ current road win streak to eight games, one shy of an American Hockey League playoff record, and improved their record away from home to 8-1 this postseason. They have not been beaten on the road since Game 1 of their first-round series against the Manchester Monarchs, a 2-1 loss on April 14.

LEHNER A RESILIENT GOALIE – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Rookie Binghamton Senators goalie Robin Lehner has developed a foolproof method of bouncing back. After being pulled for the second time in three games, Lehner responded the same way he did the first time around – posting a shutout in a fast-paced, back-and-forth victory for the B-Sens. Friday, Lehner made 35 saves to shut down the Charlotte Checkers as the B-Sens collected a 3-0 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Binghamton Senators used stingy defense Friday night to cut down the Charlotte Checkers 3-0 at Time Warner Cable Arena, putting Charlotte in a 2-0 hole in the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference finals. Fans saw Charlotte goalie Mike Murphy leave the ice with nearly three minutes to go so the Checkers an extra skater got on the ice in an attempt to score. But Senators goalie Robin Lehner and his teammates blocked shot after shot.

The potential Conn Smythe Trophy winner honed his professional skills in Winnipeg. The NHL coach of the year finalist was behind the bench for a season at MTS Centre. The goaltender who started in a critical playoff contest last month spent three years between the pipes in Manitoba. And they’re not the only ones who have called River City home at one point or another. “You just get the satisfaction of knowing, to a small extent, you were a part of it, that those kids developed here,” Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman said.

It’s 50th anniversary time for the Calder Cup-winning Springfield Indians of 1960-61, probably the greatest hockey club this region has ever seen. We can only say “probably” because Springfield teams immediately before and after them had great seasons, too, accounting for the only time in AHL history that a franchise has won three straight cups. The ‘60-61 Indians, though, were extra special because they had the best record, the most firepower, the best defense and the only playoff sweep in the history of the franchise.

Sean Bergenheim, Brett Clark and 2008 AHL rookie of the year Teddy Purcell scored in an 85-second span midway through the first period last night, sending Tampa Bay on its way to a 5-2 win over Boston in Game 1 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals… Marc-Andre Bergeron, a Calder Cup finalist with Hamilton in 2003, also scored for the Lightning, and 2001 AHL goaltender of the year Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves… Johnny Boychuk, the AHL’s outstanding defenseman in 2008-09, scored for the Bruins.

35 – Games played by Hamilton since the Feb. 28 NHL trade deadline, when Drew MacIntyre was acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Brett Festerling.

35 – Games started by Drew MacIntyre in the Hamilton net since joining the Bulldogs.

4 – Times that Houston has scored the first goal this postseason, out of 12 playoff games overall… The Aeros have a 3-1 record when scoring first, and an impressive 6-2 mark after allowing the first goal.

May 15, 2008Bobby Ryan scores twice and Andrew Ebbett once to lead Portland to a 3-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

May 15, 2003 – Raffi Torres and Jason Ward score as Hamilton beats Binghamton, 2-1, in Game 2 of their conference final series at Copps Coliseum.

May 15, 1992Mike Sillinger tallies a goal and two assists as Adirondack advances to the Calder Cup Finals with a 5-3 win in Rochester.

May 15, 1978 – The first-year Maine Mariners win the Calder Cup with a 5-4 victory over the New Haven Nighthawks at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

May 15, 1973 – Before 15,019 fans at Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium, the Cincinnati Swords win the Calder Cup with a 5-1 win over Nova Scotia.

May 15, 1972 – Nova Scotia concludes a dominating postseason with a 4-1 win over Baltimore, claiming its first Calder Cup championship… The Voyageurs outscored their opponents, 64-19, in their 15 playoff games (12-3).


Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2011 Calder Cup championship.

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