AHL Morning Skate: May 17, 2023

A2-Hershey Bears vs. A5-Hartford Wolf Pack
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Hershey leads series, 2-0)

Game 1 – Thu., May 11 – HERSHEY 3, Hartford 2 (OT) | Recap
Game 2 – Sat., May 13 – HERSHEY 4, Hartford 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., May 17 – Hershey at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 19 – Hershey at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 5 – Tue., May 23 – Hartford at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

Hershey is one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals after opening up a 2-0 series lead over Hartford... The Wolf Pack host Game 3 tonight, facing elimination for the first time this postseason and having lost consecutive games for the first time since a four-game skid from Mar. 5-11... Mason Morelli (3-1-4) notched a goal and an assist in the Bears’ 4-2 victory in Game 2 on Saturday night... Mike Vecchione (2-0-2) snapped a four-game pointless drought with a goal, and Hendrix Lapierre (2-2-4) scored his first goal of the series... Hunter Shepard (5-1, 1.82, .925) made 25 saves in Game 2, and has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his six postseason starts... Will Cuylle (1-2-3) scored his first career playoff goal for the Wolf Pack after a 25-goal regular season... Tanner Fritz (1-9-10) recorded two assists in the Game 2 loss... Adam Clendening (2-0-2) returned from a two-game league suspension and scored a goal... Hershey has not allowed a 5-on-5 goal in the series; Hartford is 3-for-6 on the power play and scored once with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker... The Bears are also 2-for-6 on the power play themselves in the series and 5-for-21 (23.8 percent) for the postseason... Hershey is outscoring its opponents 12-3 in the third period and overtime during the playoffs; Hartford has a 12-3 advantage in the second period... The Wolf Pack are 14-14 all-time when facing playoff elimination.

N1-Toronto Marlies vs. N3-Rochester Americans
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:05 ET,
(Rochester leads series, 2-0)

Game 1 – Thu., May 11 – Rochester 4, TORONTO 3 | Recap
Game 2 – Sat., May 13 – Rochester 7, TORONTO 4 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., May 17 – Toronto at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 4 – Fri., May 19 – Toronto at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sun., May 21 – Rochester at Toronto, 4:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

Rochester returns home with a 2-0 series lead over Toronto and a chance to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 with another victory in Game 3 tonight... The Amerks went into Coca-Cola Coliseum and won twice to open the series, including a 7-4 decision in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon... Jiri Kulich (5-1-6) scored for the fifth consecutive game, tied for the longest goal-scoring streak in the Calder Cup Playoffs since Peter Holland scored in six straight postseason games for the Marlies in 2014... Sean Malone (2-4-6) notched a goal and two assists in Game 2, and Mason Jobst (2-7-9) added three assists for Rochester... Filip Cederqvist (0-1-1) tallied an assist in his first game back since being injured in Game 2 against Syracuse on Apr. 22... Malcolm Subban (5-2, 2.93, .912) made 34 saves as Rochester won its fifth game in a row; the Amerks have scored 28 goals in those five victories... Nick Abruzzese (2-5-7) and Max Ellis (1-1-2) recorded a goal and an assist apiece for Toronto, which went 4-for-6 on the power play in Game 2... 2023 AHL All-Star goaltender Joseph Woll returned to the Marlies after posting a .941 save percentage in two starts for the Maple Leafs in their Stanley Cup series against Florida last week; Woll was 16-4-1 with a 2.37 GAA and a .927 save percentage in 21 AHL appearances this season... The Marlies are 12-10 all-time when facing playoff elimination... Toronto has outshot its opponent in each of its six games this postseason; Rochester has been outshot in each of its seven playoff contests.

C1-Texas Stars vs. C2-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 3 – Tonight, 8:00 ET,
(Series tied, 1-1)

Game 1 – Fri., May 12 – MILWAUKEE 2, Texas 1 | Recap
Game 2 – Sat., May 13 – Texas 5, MILWAUKEE 3 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., May 17 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:00
Game 4 – Fri., May 19 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 21 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

Texas hosts Milwaukee in a pivotal Game 3 of the Central Division finals tonight after earning a split of the series’ first two games on the road... The Stars pulled out a 5-3 win in Game 2 on Saturday night after rookie Mavrik Bourque scored the go-ahead goal with 2:30 left in regulation... Bourque’s goal came on a Texas power play, and was just the second PPG scored by the Stars in 27 chances against the Admirals this season (7.4 percent)... Rhett Gardner (4-3-7) extended his points streak to five games with an empty-net goal in Game 2... Matt Murray (4-1, 2.21, .929) turned aside 34 saves in the win... Milwaukee had trailed 2-0 and 3-1 until Roland McKeown (2-1-3) scored twice in a 69-second span late in the third period to tie Game 2... It was the first two-goal game of McKeown’s seven-year pro career... Marc Del Gaizo (2-3-5) added a goal and an assist for the Admirals... Milwaukee was 1-for-4 on the power play in Game 2 and is now 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) in seven playoff games... This is just the second home game for Texas this postseason; they defeated Rockford on May 3 to close out their division semifinal series.

P1-Calgary Wranglers vs. P2-Coachella Valley Firebirds
Game 4 – Tonight, 10:00 ET,
(Coachella Valley leads series, 2-1)

Game 1 – Thu., May 11 – Coachella Valley 6, CALGARY 3 | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., May 12 – CALGARY 3, Coachella Valley 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Mon., May 15 – COACHELLA VALLEY 3, Calgary 2 (3OT) | Recap
Game 4 – Wed., May 17 – Calgary at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 19 – Calgary at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

Coachella Valley sits on the brink of a trip to the conference finals after a Game 3 victory over Calgary in a triple-overtime classic on Monday night... Rookie defenseman Ryker Evans (2-10-12) scored the winning goal for the Firebirds 11:22 into the sixth period — at six minutes before midnight local time — giving Coachella Valley the 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series... Kole Lind (7-9-16), the AHL’s leading scorer this postseason, assisted on the OT winner to extend his scoring streak to five games... Joey Daccord (7-4, 1.95, .940) made 60 saves in the win, including 35 saves in the three overtime periods alone... Adam Klapka (4-0-4) and Jakob Pelletier (4-2-6) scored first-period goals to stake Calgary to a 2-0 lead, but the Wranglers were shut out over the final 95:59 of Game 3, their second-longest scoreless streak of the entire season (123:01, Apr. 8-14)... Matthew Phillips (1-6-7) and Jeremie Poirier (1-6-7) both have points in six straight games for Calgary... Dustin Wolf (4-3, 2.62, .912) made 48 saves in the Game 3 loss, and is now 4-3 in Calder Cup Playoff overtime decisions (4-0 at home, 0-3 on the road)... Seattle has assigned AHL Rookie of the Year Tye Kartye and goaltender Chris Driedger to the Firebirds after their elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday.

Toronto Marlies head coach Greg Moore has not yet confirmed who will start Game 3 against the Amerks tonight, but if Joseph Woll gets the call, he is fresh off two elimination Stanley Cup Playoff games last week with the Maple Leafs.

“I’ve had some experience now in elimination games, and I’m able to feel comfortable in that spot and just stick to what I know and play my game,” Woll said via the Marlies website Tuesday. “I think an important thing this year is trying to be where my feet are, and whatever team I’m with helping them to get success. This is an awesome group of guys, so I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this.”

With the Leafs facing elimination in Game 4 against the Florida Panthers last Wednesday, Woll stopped 24 of 25 shots in a 2-1 win. He came back with a 40-save effort in Game 5 on Friday, but the series ended in a 3-2 overtime loss. Woll had a 2.43 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in his four playoff appearances overall.

“It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life so far,” Woll said of his extended NHL recall. “It was an amazing experience for me and my life and my hockey career, and now my goal is to just carry it on.”

Woll was a Marlies representative at the AHL All-Star Classic in February and went 16-4-1 with a 2.37 GAA and a .927 save percentage in 22 games. He also played seven regular-season games with the Leafs, going 6-1-0 with a 2.16 GAA and .932 save percentage.

Forward Bobby McMann also spoke with the Toronto media Tuesday. McMann, who had 21 goals in 30 games with the Marlies, has not played since Mar. 21, when he was injured in a game with the Maple Leafs.

On whether he would be back in the lineup tonight, McMann said: “I’m not sure what the decisions are yet.”

The Rochester Americans know exactly what Toronto is facing tonight. After all, the Amerks lived it in their North Division semifinal series against Syracuse, when they went down two games to none before winning three straight to take the series.

With that experience fresh in his players’ minds, head coach Seth Appert has not raised the subject of trying to finish the series tonight. He also has kept his meetings short and worked to not overload his players with information or pressure.

“We haven’t talked about it,” Appert said following practice Tuesday. “We’ve been focusing on just one game. What can we do today to get ready to put ourselves mentally and physically in the best position to win one game?

“Our whole focus has been on that, learning lessons along the way. Our guys know how hard it is to end somebody’s season. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Toronto. They won our division for a reason. They’re an excellent team, but our focus is on preparing to just win a game.”

Hershey Bears head coach Todd Nelson is giving his players ample time to settle in Hartford.

After a 4-2 win in Game 2 last Saturday night gave the Bears a 2-0 lead in the teams’ Atlantic Division final series, Nelson gave his team off the following day before hitting the road Monday following practice.

“Getting up there, getting acclimated, no distractions,” Nelson said of the benefits of leaving town early.

Hershey also went ahead two games to none in their division semifinal against Charlotte before the Checkers put a scare into the Bears, taking Game 3 and going up 2-0 in Game 4. Nelson is not at all eager to relive that unnerving experience against Hartford.

“The mindset is let’s not give them a second chance, because it’s a short series,” Nelson said. “That’s a good hockey team over there.”

“It was nuts.”

That was Coachella Valley Firebirds goaltender Joey Daccord’s takeaway after he had a front-row seat for Monday’s triple-overtime win over Calgary. Daccord went toe-to-toe with Calgary counterpart Dustin Wolf, the AHL’s most valuable player and top goaltender this year, and finished with 60 saves, including 19 in the first overtime session.

“It honestly got to the point where I felt like it was never going to end,” Daccord said Tuesday after a chance to recover from a game that stretched four hours and 45 minutes.

The Firebirds also got a boost from the return of star forward Andrew Poturalski, who was back in action Monday for the first time since he was injured in a Jan. 26 game at Iowa. A two-time Calder Cup winner, Poturalski had 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists) in 38 games before the injury cost him nearly four months of play.

“I think it really gave a big boost to everybody,” Daccord said. “He’s an incredible player. He’s a really big part of this team. It hurt for a long time not having him in the lineup, so to get him back and just get his leadership and his poise and confidence with the puck I think was huge for our team.”

The regular-season champion Calgary Wranglers will fight for their season tonight.

“Our last two games have been better,” head coach Mitch Love told reporters after Monday’s Game 3 loss. “It’s a fine line out there, and we knew that was going to be the case in this series. I was proud of the guys.”

Saving their season will require them to take back-to-back road wins against a Firebirds opponent that has gone a combined 30-11-2-0 at home during the regular season and Calder Cup Playoffs. But Calgary captain Brett Sutter sounded an upbeat note even after Monday’s loss.

“We trust that we’re going to come out and get the job done in Game 4 here,” Sutter said. “We’ll clean up some things, and we’ll be all right.”

The Texas Stars got exactly what they expected on their trip to Milwaukee.

“We know it’s going to be hard,” head coach Neil Graham said via the team website as his team prepared for tonight’s Game 3 against the Admirals. “You leave Milwaukee [tied], and that’s always the goal in a tight series.”

Texas received a boost from defenseman Artem Grushnikov, who made his playoff debut in Game 2 after Will Butcher was not able to go. Grushnikov, 20, was a 2021 second-round pick by the parent Dallas Stars and spent this season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs before joining Texas.

Veteran Alex Petrovic picked up his first goal of the postseason in Game 2 and took on a heavy workload with Butcher out.

“[I feel] really good, actually,” Petrovic told the team website. “We destroy ourselves in the gym, too, so it’s part of it. It’s not as bad as we think, so we all feel good. We were missing [Butcher] out there. That was a tough break for us and for him, but I thought the boys handled it well.”

― Patrick Williams

In action around the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday, 2018 Calder Cup finalist Roope Hintz scored his ninth goal of the postseason and Jake Oettinger made 22 saves as Dallas edged Seattle, 2-1, to advance to the Western Conference final against Vegas... Florida and Carolina will meet in the Eastern Conference final, which gets underway Thursday night in Raleigh.

Yesterday at the 2023 IIHF World Championship, 2017 AHL All-Star Nicklas Jensen notched a goal and an assist for Denmark in a 6-2 win over Austria... 2013 AHL All-Star Nino Niederreiter scored for Switzerland in their 5-0 victory over Kazakhstan.

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