AHL Morning Skate: May 23, 2023

Photo: Micheline Veluvolu

A2-Hershey Bears vs. N3-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,

Game 1 – Tue., May 23 – Rochester at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Thu., May 25 – Rochester at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Sat., May 27 – Hershey at Rochester, 7:05
Game 4 – Mon., May 29 – Hershey at Rochester, 6:05
*Game 5 – Wed., May 31 – Rochester at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Fri., June 2 – Hershey at Rochester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., June 5 – Rochester at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary... All times Eastern

The two oldest clubs in the American Hockey League meet in the postseason for the first time in 23 years, as the Hershey Bears (est. 1938) host the Rochester Americans (est. 1956) in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Giant Center tonight... The Amerks defeated the Bears in the conference finals in 2000, earning their 16th and most recent trip to the Calder Cup Finals... Hershey is in the AHL’s final four for the 42nd time in 85 seasons, and the first time since winning the Eastern Conference title in 2016... Both teams are coming off sweeps in the division finals, the Bears eliminating Hartford and the Amerks ousting Toronto... Rochester has won six consecutive games since falling behind 0-2 in the division semis against Syracuse, scoring 36 goals in those six contests... Rookie Jiri Kulich (6-3-9) enters the conference finals having scored a goal in six straight games for the Amerks, matching the longest postseason goal streak in the AHL since Joel Kwiatkowski scored in seven consecutive games for Chicago in 2008... Mason Jobst (2-9-11) and Lawrence Pilut (3-5-8) have also picked up points in six straight... The Amerks’ red-hot offense will be up against a Bears defense that has given up just 12 goals in seven playoff games after ranking second in goals allowed during the regular season... Hunter Shepard (6-1, 1.71, .933) has allowed two goals or fewer for Hershey in each of his seven playoff starts and in 14 of his last 16 starts overall... Bears forward Henrik Borgstrom (1-2-3) had a point in each game of the Hartford series after being out of the lineup for the entire division semifinal against Charlotte... Aliaksei Protas (3-4-7), Sam Anas (2-5-7) and Joe Snively (1-6-7) are tied for Hershey’s postseason scoring lead entering the series... Rochester was 7-for-11 on the power play against the Marlies last round, improving to 12-for-29 (41.4 percent) for the playoffs... The Amerks were also just 7-for-12 on the penalty kill, and have allowed nine goals in 28 times shorthanded this postseason (67.9 percent)... The Bears are 5-for-22 on the power play (22.7 percent) after going 2-for-7 in the division finals... Hershey and Rochester met twice during the 2022-23 regular season, with the Bears taking a 2-1 decision on Mar. 18 and the Amerks prevailing 4-3 in a shootout six days later.

P2-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. C2-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 1 – Thursday, 10:00 ET,

Game 1 – Thu., May 25 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 27 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
Game 3 – Mon., May 29 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 7:00
Game 4 – Thu., June 1 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 3 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 5 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 7 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Fresh off six consecutive wins, the Rochester Americans are rested and fortified as they visit Hershey for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight.

The Amerks have also added forward Matthew Savoie, who went to the parent Buffalo Sabres as the ninth overall pick in last year’s National Hockey League Draft. Savoie, 19, just finished his Western Hockey League season with the Winnipeg Ice, where he had 94 points (38 goals, 57 assists) in 62 regular-season games to tie for sixth overall in scoring. He then added 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 19 playoff games as Winnipeg advanced to the WHL final before being eliminated by Seattle on Friday night.

Savoie joined the Amerks for practice Monday morning at Blue Cross Arena before they headed to Hershey. He is one of three recent Buffalo first-round picks on the Rochester roster, joining forwards Jiri Kulich (28th overall in 2022) and Isak Rosen (14th overall in 2021).

“It’s been a quick turnaround,” Savoie told reporters after Monday’s practice, “but I couldn’t be happier and more excited to be here. This opportunity is really exciting and really looking forward to it. I think the group has done a great job in reaching out and just making me feel really welcome.”

Amerks head coach Seth Appert did not have a timeline for when Savoie might make his professional debut.

“He’s had a busy last couple of months,” Appert told reporters. “I think right now we want to get him acclimated to a new organization and to our culture, get him comfortable with the guys, get him comfortable with our team play. We anticipate him being available for us at some point in this series.”

Appert also said that he expects to have forward Linus Weissbach in action tonight. Weissbach, who missed the last two games of the division finals against Toronto, has five points (one goal, four assists) in six playoff outings.

― Patrick Williams

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs last night, Sam Reinhart scored the only goal in Florida’s 1-0 win over Carolina, giving the Panthers a 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference final... On Sunday afternoon, Chandler Stephenson scored the overtime winner to lift Vegas past Dallas, 3-2... Stephenson, Mark Stone and three-time AHL All-Star Jonathan Marchessault all had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights.

Yesterday at the 2023 IIHF World Championship, 2023 AHL All-Star Jesper Wallstedt stopped 10 shots in Sweden’s 4-1 win over Denmark... Marco Rossi scored to help Austria to a 4-3 shootout win over Hungary... Andreas Martinsen had a goal in Norway’s 3-2 shootout victory over Canada.

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