AHL Morning Skate: May 22, 2024

Photo: John Mrakovcich

A1-Hershey Bears vs. A5-Hartford Wolf Pack
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Hershey leads series, 2-0)

Game 1 – Thu., May 16 – HERSHEY 6, Hartford 1 | Recap
Game 2 – Sat., May 18 – HERSHEY 4, Hartford 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., May 22 – Hershey at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 24 – Hershey at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 26 – Hartford at Hershey, 5:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

The Hershey Bears can lock up a return to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in Hartford tonight as the Wolf Pack host Game 3 of the teams’ best-of-five series... Hershey took a 2-0 series lead with a 4-2 win on Saturday night, improving to 5-0 against the Wolf Pack over the last two postseasons... Ivan Miroshnichenko (5-0-5) scored two more goals in Game 2, giving him three in the series and five in his last three contests... Miroshnichenko had one goal in his previous 24 AHL games before that... Ethen Frank (5-2-7) netted his fourth game-winning goal of the playoffs in Game 2; he tied for second in the AHL with nine game-winners during the regular season... Hendrix Lapierre (3-5-8) added a goal and an assist in Saturday’s win... Hunter Shepard (5-1, 1.68, .935) made 22 saves, carrying a shutout bid into the final three minutes of regulation before Hartford scored twice... Shepard has now won 11 consecutive starts (1.16, .952) against the Wolf Pack, and is 15-3-2 with a 1.24 GAA and a .950 save percentage in his last 20 starts overall... Jake Leschyshyn (5-1-6) scored his fourth goal in the last three games for Hartford on Saturday night... Dylan Garand (5-3, 2.53, .924), who missed Game 1 of the series while on recall to the New York Rangers, returned for Game 2 and made 23 saves... The Bears have lost four games over the past two postseasons when they have had a chance to close out a series... Hartford is 16-15 all-time when facing elimination, including 2-0 in these playoffs.


N1-Cleveland Monsters vs. N3-Syracuse Crunch
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Cleveland leads series, 2-0)

Game 1 – Thu., May 16 – CLEVELAND 1, Syracuse 0 | Recap
Game 2 – Sat., May 18 – CLEVELAND 4, Syracuse 1 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., May 22 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 24 – Cleveland at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 26 – Syracuse at Cleveland, 3:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Syracuse faces a 2-0 series deficit to Cleveland in the North Division Finals as the Crunch host Game 3 tonight... Syracuse has struggled to solve Monsters goaltender Jet Greaves (5-1, 1.39, .951), who has stopped 45 of 46 shots over the first two games of the series... After posting a 1-0 shutout in Game 1, Greaves backstopped Cleveland to a 4-1 victory in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon, the Monsters’ fifth win in a row... Rookie forward Hunter McKown (1-2-3) tallied a goal and an assist in the Game 2 win... Defensemen Billy Sweezey (1-1-2) and Jakub Zboril (1-1-2) also scored for Cleveland on Saturday, the first career playoff goal for both... Devante Stephens (1-1-2) scored Syracuse’s only goal in Game 2, his first power-play marker in 247 career AHL games (regular season and playoffs)... Brandon Halverson (3-4, 2.19, .916) stopped 24 of 27 shots in the loss... Syracuse is 1-for-8 on the power play in the series, while Cleveland is 1-for-5... The Crunch are 0-3 when facing elimination on home ice since their last win in that situation, a Game 5 victory over Grand Rapids in the 2017 Calder Cup Finals... The Monsters are 6-6 all-time with a chance to close out a playoff series... Cleveland is 25-6 (.806) in its playoff history when allowing three goals or fewer in a game, and 1-6 (.143) when allowing more than three.


C1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. C2-Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Series tied, 1-1)

Game 1 – Wed., May 15 – Grand Rapids 4, MILWAUKEE 2 | Recap
Game 2 – Mon., May 20 – MILWAUKEE 5, Grand Rapids 2 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., May 22 – Milwaukee at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., May 24 – Milwaukee at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 26 – Grand Rapids at Milwaukee, 6:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Grand Rapids hosts Milwaukee in a pivotal Game 3 of the Central Division Finals at Van Andel Arena tonight... The Admirals salvaged a split of the first two games back at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena with a 5-2 victory on Monday night, led by a 27-save effort by Yaroslav Askarov (1-2, 3.41, .873)... Askarov, a 30-game winner during the regular season, was making his first appearance since Game 2 of the division semifinals against Texas and carried a shutout bid deep into the third period... Zach L’Heureux (7-5-12) and Jasper Weatherby (1-1-2) led the Admirals offense with a goal and an assist apiece in Monday’s win, and Joakim Kemell (0-4-4) added a pair of assists... Egor Afanasyev (1-2-3) tallied his first goal of the postseason in Game 2 after leading Milwaukee with 27 goals during the 2023-24 regular season... L’Heureux has notched 11 points in his last five games and has scored his league-high seven playoff goals on a total of 11 shots... Fedor Svechkov (3-3-6) and Marc Del Gaizo (3-1-4) also scored for the Admirals in Game 2... The Griffins were held off the scoreboard on Monday until Carter Mazur (3-3-6) converted on a power play with 4:26 remaining in regulation... Dominik Shine (2-3-5) added a goal with an extra attacker on for Sebastian Cossa (4-2, 2.93, .882), who made 21 saves in the loss... Grand Rapids has scored a power-play goal in each of the first two games of the series after going 0-for-8 in four games against Rockford during the division semifinals.


P1-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. P3-Ontario Reign
(Coachella Valley wins series, 3-0)

Game 1 – Wed., May 15 – COACHELLA VALLEY 3, Ontario 2 | Recap
Game 2 – Fri., May 17 – COACHELLA VALLEY 5, Ontario 3 | Recap
Game 3 – Sun., May 19 – Coachella Valley 3, ONTARIO 2 | Recap

The Milwaukee Admirals evened the Central Division Finals with a 5-2 win in Game 2 on Monday, reducing their match-up with Grand Rapids to a best-of-three.

And having to go on the road for Game 3 tonight, the Admirals could hardly afford to enter Van Andel Arena facing elimination. Milwaukee took a 4-0 lead on Monday before two late Griffins goals, but the Admirals eventually iced the victory.

“These are two really good teams – they’ve had a great second half, we’ve had a great second half,” Admirals head coach Karl Taylor told reporters. “Two really good teams going after each other.”

Only seven games into their postseason, the Central Division champions have already faced their fair share of challenging circumstances. They lost the first two games of their best-of-five division semifinal against Texas before taking the series with three consecutive wins. After falling in Game 1 last week at home to the Griffins, a loss in Game 2 would have put the Admirals down 2-0 for the second series in a row going into a hostile environment.

“I love playing in G.R.,” Taylor said. “They usually have good crowds, it’s loud, it’s a really fun city. It’s a challenge because they do play well at home, but we want those challenges. It’s supposed to be hard here. It’s not supposed to be easy.”

For the second consecutive series, Taylor made a mid-series goaltending switch. Against Texas, Yaroslav Askarov started the first two games before Taylor inserted Troy Grosenick for Game 3. He stuck with Grosenick through Game 1 against Grand Rapids before going back to Askarov, who came through with 27 saves in Monday’s win.

“What a great game by Asky,” Taylor said. “What a great response from him stepping up. It’s always a challenge. These kids are so young. These are young men, and it was awesome – I was really proud of how he played.”

Now the Admirals must win at least one game in Grand Rapids, where the Griffins had the AHL’s third-best regular-season record at 23-7-4-2.

“We know that going into Grand Rapids is going to be a challenge,” rookie forward Zach L’Heureux told reporters. “It’s a hard barn to play in, but we’re looking forward to it. Excited for that challenge. We want to go there, win two games, and finish it off.”

Awash in standout prospects, it was a swap of first-round picks for the Griffins for their Game 2 lineup.

With defenseman Simon Edvinsson, selected sixth overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2021 NHL Draft, considered “day-to-day,” according to head coach Dan Watson, rookie forward Nate Danielson, just in from Portland of the Western Hockey League, made his pro debut on Monday. Detroit took him ninth in last year’s NHL Draft, and he had 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists) in 54 games for Portland this season.

Watson was pleased with Danielson’s debut in making the jump not only to the AHL, but to the Calder Cup Playoffs.

“He was good,” Watson said. “Smart player. I think he moves well. It’s a tough game to throw him into right away, but he can handle it. He’s used to that type of pressure. I thought he did well, but he’ll get better as the games go along here.”

Said Danielson, “I thought I was all right. I think I can definitely be better. It’s a lot different game from junior, just the physicality and speed and everything like that.”

Vincent Iorio has returned to the Hershey Bears in advance of Game 3 tonight.

The second-year defenseman collected 14 points and registered a plus-26 rating in 60 games with the Bears during the 2023-24 regular season. He was injured in Game 1 of the Washington Capitals’ first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the New York Rangers back on Apr. 21.

― with files from Patrick Williams

In Monday’s Stanley Cup Playoff action, Cody Ceci, Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored and Stuart Skinner made 15 saves as Edmonton defeated Vancouver, 3-2, in Game 7 of their second-round series... 2020 AHL All-Star Evan Bouchard notched two assists for the Oilers... Conor Garland and Filip Hronek scored for the Canucks.

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