AHL Morning Skate: May 24

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 6 – Hamilton 5, HOUSTON 4 (2OT) (Series tied, 3-3)

1. Hamilton forward Nigel Dawes capped a two-goal effort with the game-winner at 9:11 of the second overtime as the Bulldogs forced Game 7 with a 5-4 victory in Houston.

2. Bulldogs goaltender Drew MacIntyre made an AHL playoff-high 57 saves on 61 shots in the winning effort.

3. Aeros forward Colton Gillies chipped in a pair of third-period assists in the loss.

Game 7 – Hamilton at Houston, 8:05 (Series tied, 3-3)

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 – HAMILTON 4, Houston 2
Game 6 – Sun., May 22 – Hamilton 5, HOUSTON 4 (2OT)
Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Hamilton at Houston, 8:05

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 7 – Hamilton at Houston, 8:05 (Series tied, 3-3)
Webcast: AHLLive.com
The Robert W. Clarke Trophy and a berth in the 2011 Calder Cup Finals are on the line tonight when Houston hosts Hamilton in Game 7 of the Western Conference championship series, the 84th Game 7 in AHL history… This is the second straight year that the Western Conference Finals have gone the distance – Hamilton dropped a 4-2 decision to Texas on home ice in 2010 – and it’s the fifth Game 7 of the 2011 postseason, matching an AHL record established in 2006 and 2008… The Bulldogs are just the third team in AHL history to force Game 7 after losing the first three games of a series, and tonight they try to join the 1960 Rochester Americans (vs. Cleveland) and the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings (vs. Hershey) in completing the comeback… On the other side, the Aeros own a perfect 5-0 record in Calder Cup Playoff Game 7’s – including a 3-0 win over Hamilton in the finale of the 2003 Calder Cup Finals – matching the Maine Mariners’ mark for the most Game 7 wins by an AHL team without a loss… Tonight is the first Game 7 to be played in Houston; the Aeros’ five previous experiences were all on the road… The Bulldogs, who will play their 100th game of the season tonight, improved to 4-0 in elimination games this spring with a 5-4 double-overtime victory on Sunday evening… Nigel Dawes converted off an odd-man break at 9:11 of the second OT for the game-winner… Dawes had two goals in Game 6, shows five goals (5-0-5) in his last four contests, and is tied for the league lead with a Hamilton franchise-record 14 goals (14-6-20) in 19 playoff games overall… Andreas Engqvist also scored twice on Sunday for the Bulldogs, his third and fourth goals of the postseason… Engqvist’s second goal of Game 6 was Hamilton’s third shorthanded tally in as many contests… Dustin Boyd rounded out the Hamilton offense with a goal and an assist, giving him 3-3-6 in his last three games… Aaron Palushaj, who ranks second on the club behind Dawes with 18 points (6-12-18) in 18 games, posted just one assist in the three losses this series but has produced five points (2-3-5) in the three victories… Mathieu Carle is now riding a six-game scoring streak (1-5-6) for the Bulldogs, and defensive partner Frederic St. Denis posted two assists in Game 6… Drew MacIntyre (11-8, 1.85, .933) – 10-2 lifetime in Calder Cup Playoff elimination games (including 3-2 in Game 7’s) – made 57 saves in Game 6, the most by an AHL goaltender in a playoff contest since Albany’s Michael Leighton (98 saves) and Philadelphia’s Scott Munroe (65 saves) dueled through five overtimes on Apr. 24, 2008… MacIntyre has made 40 consecutive starts for the Bulldogs since being acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Thrashers organization on Feb. 28, compiling a 1.87 GAA and a .936 save percentage in a Hamilton sweater… Houston’s Chad Rau got his team on the board first in Game 6 with an early power-play goal, marking the first time this series that the team which scored first did not go on to win… Rau’s goal marked his first since Game 1 of this series; Robbie Earl scored for the first time since Game 2; and defenseman Nate Prosser registered his first career playoff goal… Jed Ortmeyer, who tied Game 6 with 1:56 left in regulation, has a goal in each of the last two games for Houston… Aeros leading scorer Patrick O’Sullivan racked up 4-6-10 in 11 games during the first two rounds but has been limited to 0-3-3 in this series… Matt Hackett had surrendered more than three goals just twice in his first 14 playoff games this spring, but the 21-year-old rookie has now allowed five goals in two of his last three outings… Houston is 4-for-11 on the power play in its three wins this series, but 2-for-18 with three shorthanded goals allowed in its three losses… Houston is now 11-10 in its AHL history with a chance to eliminate an opponent; the Bulldogs are 15-10 all-time when trying to avoid playoff elimination… Both Hamilton and Houston are appearing in their second consecutive Game 7 after ousting Manitoba and Milwaukee, respectively, in the division finals… This will be the eighth Game 7 of an AHL conference finals series since 2000; of the previous seven, five were decided either in overtime (Hartford/Providence in 2000, WBS/Hartford in 2004, Hershey/Portland in 2006) or in the final 90 seconds of regulation (Bridgeport/Hamilton in 2002, WBS/Portland in 2008)… Tonight’s winner will face the Eastern Conference champion Binghamton Senators in the AHL’s 75th Calder Cup Finals.


The Aeros will make history no matter what they do in tonight’s Game 7 against the Hamilton Bulldogs at Toyota Center. After taking a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals, the Aeros have been picked apart by the North Division champions. Win tonight, and the Aeros advance to the Calder Cup finals against the Binghamton Senators. Win Game 7, and the Aeros are the first team to blow a three-game lead in a best-of-seven series and win the series. Lose, and the Aeros will join a short list of hockey teams that have blown 3-0 leads in the playoffs.

Only two other teams in the 75-year history of the American Hockey League have been in the position that the Hamilton Bulldogs are in, heading into Tuesday’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Of course, only two other teams in the 75-year history of the American Hockey League have been in the Houston Aeros’ shoes too. The Bulldogs have become the third AHL club ever to force a Game 7 after losing the first three games of a series.

BULLDOGS FORCE GAME 7 – Hamilton Spectator
He’s not proud of it, but he admits that when he was a young man, the history of the game didn’t mean all that much to him. Stories of old guys playing in the old days just didn’t resonate. “I appreciate it more now that I’m older,” Randy Cunneyworth says. The Hamilton Bulldogs’ head coach is talking about the legends and the records and the accomplishments that make up the fabric and the lore of hockey – something they’ll have a chance to become part of with a win on Tuesday night.

Early this postseason, the Aeros stretched a streak of overtime playoff success to 11 wins, piling up that impressive run with eight years’ worth of desperation, luck and hard work. Now, if the Aeros want to play the Binghamton Senators in the Calder Cup finals, they are going to have to win another Game 7. The Aeros wasted a 3-0 series lead and play the Bulldogs on Tuesday night.

The American Hockey League’s Western Conference champion will get a final rehearsal for the Calder Cup Finals with a Game 7 in Houston Tuesday night. After nearly a week of waiting for the result of that series, the Eastern Conference champion Binghamton Senators are holding a dress rehearsal of their own. In lieu of a usual practice, the B-Sens will compete in an intrasquad game at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena on Tuesday.

With his bloodshot eye, chipped tooth and deep cut underneath his scruffy playoff beard, Colton Gillies is beginning to look like an NHLer. He is starting to play like one, too. Gillies, 22, was thrust into the NHL as a raw 19-year-old rookie in 2008. Now, after spending the past two years in the AHL and leading the Aeros on a deep playoff run, he appears ready to crack the Wild roster next fall.

Defenseman Chris Tanev and forward Alexandre Bolduc have been valuable depth players for the Vancouver Canucks in these playoffs; however, it wasn’t too long ago both players were several steps away from an NHL game. Bolduc, who has played center and right wing on the team’s fourth line in Games 3 and 4, had an injury-plagued season after making the Canucks’ opening-day roster out of training camp.

CHARLOTTE CHECKERS BUILD FOR 2011-12 – Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte Checkers won 44 of 80 regular-season games and knocked off two of the American Hockey League’s best teams in the playoffs, but they came up short against a buzz saw offensive team in the Binghamton Senators. Despite with the Senators’ four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference finals, the Checkers’ inaugural season here achieved what only four other AHL teams did: Reach the top playoff tiers in the 30-team league. Plus they entertained fans with a fast-skating, high-scoring brand of hockey.

Zac Dalpe loaded up a U-Haul, hopped in his Chevy truck and made the 13-hour drive from Charlotte back home to Paris, Ontario. This past weekend’s long haul gave the Charlotte Checkers forward a lot of time to think. Surely on his mind: the words of Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford. “For me, Dalpe is our No. 1 guy to come on the Hurricanes team of anybody in Charlotte,” Rutherford said last week. “He can really skate, and he can really shoot. I would be very surprised if Dalpe doesn’t play regularly in the top nine all year.”

Brad Marchand nabbed the game-winning goal in the second period, Rich Peverley added a late empty-netter, and goaltender Tim Thomas stopped 33 of 34 shots as Boston rallied for a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay on Monday to take a 3-2 series lead in the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals… In the Western Conference on Sunday night, Sami Salo – who had an AHL stint with the Manitoba Moose in 2010-11 – had two goals and an assist and Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows also scored in Vancouver’s 4-2 win over San Jose, giving the Canucks a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.

44-39 – Record of the home team all-time in AHL Game 7’s.

1-3 – Record of the home team in AHL Game 7’s during the 2011 postseason.

17 – Calder Cup Playoff Game 7’s that have gone into overtime… Road teams are 8-3 in Game 7 overtime contests since 1992.

May 24, 2010Matt Climie makes 51 saves and Aaron Gagnon scores at 18:32 of overtime as Texas staves off elimination with a 3-2 win over Hamilton in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

May 24, 2008Tim Brent’s goal with 30.7 seconds remaining in the third period of Game 7 snaps a tie and sends Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to the Calder Cup Finals with a 3-2 win over Portland.

May 24, 2006Bobby Ryan scores his first professional goal as Portland wins Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 5-3 over Hershey.

May 24, 2002Bob Nardella scores with 2.7 seconds left in regulation and Andreas Karlsson follows up 13:58 into overtime as Chicago beats Bridgeport, 5-4, in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals.

May 24, 1998Martin St. Louis picks up a goal and an assist as the Saint John Flames win the Eastern Conference championship with a 7-3 decision over Hartford.

May 24, 1996Dwayne Roloson stops 31 shots to lead Saint John to a 4-1 win at Portland, evening up their conference final series at two games apiece.

May 24, 1991Michel Picard’s goal six minutes into the third period stands up as the game-winner as Springfield defeats Rochester, 5-3, to capture its second straight Calder Cup championship.

May 24, 1985 – The Sherbrooke Canadiens, led by 19-year-old goaltender Patrick Roy, win the Calder Cup with a 3-1 win over the Baltimore Skipjacks.


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