AHL Morning Skate: May 20

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 4 – BINGHAMTON 4, Charlotte 3 (OT) (BNG wins series, 4-0)
Game 4 – HAMILTON 8, Houston 1 (HOU leads series, 3-1)

1. Binghamton captain Ryan Keller sent the Senators to their first-ever Calder Cup Finals by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 4 of the conference finals vs. Charlotte.

2. Dustin Boyd racked up a game-high four points (2-2-4) as Hamilton staved off elimination with a convincing 8-1 win over Houston in Game 4.

3. Aaron Palushaj registered a goal and two assists in the Bulldogs’ victory.

Game 5 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30 (HOU leads series, 3-1)

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 – BINGHAMTON 7, Charlotte 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – BINGHAMTON 4, Charlotte 3 (OT)

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 – HOUSTON 3, Hamilton 2
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – Houston 3, HAMILTON 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – HAMILTON 8, Houston 1
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 5 – Houston at Hamilton, 7:30 (HOU leads series, 3-1)
Webcast: AHLLive.com
After keeping its season alive with an 8-1 win on Wednesday night, Hamilton hosts Houston again tonight for Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals… Still down 3-1 in the series, the Bulldogs are looking to send the series back to Texas for a Game 6 on Sunday… The Aeros, meanwhile, remain one victory away from advancing to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time since 2003 and setting up a match-up with Eastern Conference champion Binghamton… Hamilton’s eight goals on Wednesday night were the most by an AHL team in a game this postseason, and came after the Bulldogs had scored just nine goals in their previous five contests combined… Hamilton set a franchise playoff record for largest margin of victory, and tied the club mark for goals scored in a postseason contest… Dustin Boyd (3-9-12) paced Hamilton with two goals and two assists, his first four points of the series… Prior to Wednesday, Boyd’s only point in a span of nine games was his series-clinching goal in triple-overtime of Game 7 of the division finals vs. Manitoba on May 9… Nigel Dawes (12-6-18) also scored twice in Game 4 for the Bulldogs, and now ranks second in the AHL in goals and third in points in 17 postseason outings… Dawes’s 12 goals have tied Jason Ward’s Hamilton club record (set in 2003) for a single postseason… Aaron Palushaj (5-11-16) registered a goal and two assists in Game 4, passing David Desharnais and Andre Benoit to become the Bulldogs’ career playoff scoring leader (28 points)… The Bulldogs also received Game 4 goals from Ryan Russell, Gabriel Dumont and J.T. WymanMathieu Carle picked up an assist to run his scoring streak to four games (1-3-4), and fellow defenseman Kyle Klubertanz had two helpers to halt a five-game points drought… Hamilton held a 40-15 shots advantage in Game 4… Drew MacIntyre (9-8, 1.78, .933) has now allowed one goal or fewer in eight of his 17 playoff starts for the Bulldogs… Rookie Casey Wellman tallied the Aeros’ lone goal on the power play in the first period of Game 4; both teams went 1-for-5 on the man-advantage… Houston defenseman Jared Spurgeon is now on a five-game points streak (0-6-6), and leads all scorers in this series with five points (0-5-5)… Matt Hackett had allowed five goals on 95 shots (.947) in the first three games against Hamilton before surrendering five goals on 22 shots (.773) in Game 4… Hackett was relieved by Josh Tordjman, who made 15 stops in his first game action since Apr. 1 and his first Calder Cup postseason appearance since Apr. 28, 2008, with San Antonio… Patrick O’Sullivan leads the AHL with 67 shots on goal this postseason, but was credited with none in the Game 4 loss… Wednesday marked the Aeros’ first-ever Calder Cup Playoffs loss with a chance to complete a four-game sweep (3-1) and the Bulldogs’ first-ever win when facing a sweep (1-3)… Hamilton is trying to win two elimination games in the same series for the first time since the 2002 conference finals vs. Bridgeport, which ultimately resulted in a seven-game defeat… The Bulldogs are 2-6 in one-goal games this postseason, but 7-2 in games decided by two goals or more… Houston is now 11-8 in its AHL history with a chance to eliminate an opponent; the Bulldogs are 13-10 all-time when trying to avoid playoff elimination… Wednesday’s margin of defeat matched a 7-0 loss suffered by Houston in 2009 when they were attempting to eliminate Milwaukee in a Game 6; the Aeros bounced back and won that series in Game 7.


The welt on the bridge of Ryan White’s nose is nowhere close to the most disfiguring injury you’ll ever see on a hockey player. In a sport that reveres bruises and considers facial gashes as mere nuisances – because they cost a guy a few shifts while he’s being stitched up – a dollop of purple on the proboscis is little more than window dressing. What it stands for isn’t, though. It’s become pretty clear heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference final tonight at Copps that the Hamilton Bulldogs are a better team when they’re playing with an edge.

With the season on the line [Wednesday] night and plenty of reason to believe this might be the spring’s last game at Copps, what the Hamilton Bulldogs needed most of all was someone – or a couple someone’s – to step up and do something big. Something that could inject a little belief into his teammates that this series and this season isn’t over yet. Enter Ryan Russell and Aaron Palushaj.

DOGS WINNER IN LONG RUN – Hamilton Spectator
Now that they’ve exercised their right to breathe another day, it’s time to add some important perspective on the Bulldogs success in the post-season since they arrived in town. For all of their 15-year history the Dogs have played in an AHL with 27 to 30 franchises so, in purely mathematical terms, they should reach the Conference Finals about every 7.5 seasons. However, the 2010-11 post-season is the sixth time that Hamilton has been among the last four AHL cities still selling tickets.

It’s all about one game of hockey. That was the common theme Thursday in Hamilton as the Bulldogs and Aeros were preparing to play tonight’s Game 5 of the AHL Western Conference finals. At stake is a berth in the Calder Cup against the Binghamton Senators. For the Aeros, there are two sides to the equation. Wednesday was just one game that got away and is no longer a factor. One more win will vault the team into the hunt for a championship. The Aeros hoped to get the series clincher Wednesday but ended up on the wrong end of an 8-1 thrashing.

B-SENS PEAKING AS THEY APPROACH SUMMIT – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
So many things could have kept the Binghamton Senators out of the Calder Cup Finals. After all, it was almost a miracle they even reached the playoffs with the call-ups and injuries that decimated their roster late during the late-season playoff push. Despite finishing fifth in the East Division, the B-Sens earned a berth through the Eastern Conference crossover rule. But even once they were in, it was never easy.

ELECTRIC ARENA GIVEN A CHARGE BY B-SENS – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The Binghamton Senators tried not to think about it. Pressure was high enough with a trip to the Calder Cup Finals within reach. But there was no denying that they wanted to earn that right in front of their home crowd. Ryan Keller’s goal 13:05 into sudden-death overtime was a dream come true for them and the 4,174 fans in attendance. “They deserve it,” Keller said. “To do that for them – it’s great. It was electric all night.”

CAPTAIN CLUTCH – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Captain Ryan Keller scored off a faceoff win by Zack Smith 13:05 into overtime to send the Binghamton Senators into the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in the team’s nine-year franchise history. “It’s great to end it,” Keller said. “It feels great to get the goal, but I honestly couldn’t care less who scored it – as long as we scored it.” The B-Sens are the first Binghamton American Hockey League hockey team to reach the Calder Cup Finals since the Whalers lost to the New Brunswick Hawks in five games in 1982.

The Charlotte Checkers finally mounted a rally against the Binghamton Senators. It still wasn’t enough. Ryan Keller’s goal at 13 minutes, 5 seconds of overtime lifted the Senators over the Checkers 4-3 Wednesday night at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The Senators advanced to the Calder Cup finals with a 4-0 sweep of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference finals.

Kurt Kleinendorst was with his wife shopping at a garage sale in Minnesota last July when a call on his cell phone rescued him for a moment. On the other line was Tim Murray, the Ottawa Senators’ assistant general manager. Kleinendorst guided Team USA to a gold medal in the U-18 world championships in Belarus, cementing his reputation as a coach known for teaching and communicating. One year later, the relationship between Kleinendorst and the Senators has blossomed.

The coaching staff that led the Adirondack Phantoms to a stunning second-half reversal will return for another season. Joe Paterson confirmed Thursday that he’s been asked to return, along with assistant coach Riley Cote. Paterson went 25-16-2-6 as the Phantoms head coach after taking over on Dec. 20 from interim coach John Paddock, who he spent a month assisting.

A 31-goal scorer as a rookie with the AHL’s Providence Bruins in 2006-07, David Krejci netted a goal 1:09 into the game and 2001 AHL All-Star Andrew Ference added insurance in the third period as Boston took a 2-0 win at Tampa Bay on Thursday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals… Tim Thomas posted a 31-save shutout for the Bruins.

5 – Series this postseason that have ended on an overtime goal… Binghamton’s Ryan Keller (vs. Charlotte) and Ryan Potulny (vs. Manchester), Charlotte’s Nicolas Blanchard (vs. Hershey), Milwaukee’s Mark Van Guilder (vs. Texas) and Hamilton’s Dustin Boyd (vs. Manitoba) have netted the sudden-death goals.

0:00 – Amount of time Binghamton trailed in a game during its four-game sweep of Charlotte in the Eastern Conference Finals.

17 – First-period goals allowed this postseason by Houston, compared to just 22 goals allowed from the second period on.

May 20, 2010Chris Bourque ties the game with 50.4 seconds left in regulation and Francois Bouchard wins it 10:38 into overtime as Hershey steals Game 5 from Manchester, 3-2, to take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 20, 2006 – Portland scores twice in the final 5:22 of regulation and Shane O’Brien strikes 7:31 into the second overtime as the Pirates end Hershey’s 10-game winning streak with a 6-5 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 20, 2005Freddy Meyer’s hat trick lifts Philadelphia to a 4-2 win over Providence in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference final series.

May 20, 2002 – Louie DeBrusk scores 9:10 into overtime as Hamilton staves off elimination with a 3-2 win at Bridgeport in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 20, 1981 – The Adirondack Red Wings win their first Calder Cup, defeating Maine in Game 6, 5-2.

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