AHL Morning Skate: May 27, 2023

A2-Hershey Bears vs. N3-Rochester Americans
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:05 ET,
, NBC Sports Washington, MSG Network
(Series tied, 1-1)

Game 1 – Tue., May 23 – Rochester 5, HERSHEY 1 | Recap
Game 2 – Thu., May 25 – HERSHEY 2, Rochester 0 | Recap
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 Eastern Conference Finals move north as Rochester hosts Hershey in Game 3 tonight... After dropping the series opener, the Bears came back with a 2-0 victory in Game 2 on Thursday, getting 24 saves from Hunter Shepard (7-2, 1.89, .927) in his first shutout of the postseason... Henrik Borgstrom (2-2-4) and Beck Malenstyn (3-1-4) scored Hershey’s goals, both set up by Mason Morelli (3-3-6)... The Bears have allowed two goals or fewer in eight of their nine playoff games, the only exception being Rochester’s 5-1 win in Game 1... The Amerks were shut out for the second time this postseason; their 3-0 loss to Syracuse on Apr. 22 was followed by a seven-game winning streak during which they scored 41 goals... Malcolm Subban (7-3, 2.76, .913) stopped 19 shots in Game 2... Mason Jobst (3-9-12) and Jiri Kulich (6-4-10) saw their seven-game scoring streaks come to an end... Rochester is 3-0 at Blue Cross Arena this postseason, outscoring the opposition 20-9... Thursday’s game was the first shutout by either team in 36 head-to-head playoff games all-time... Shepard also became the first Bears goaltender to blank Rochester since Phil Sauve on Feb. 22, 2002, and the first to do so in Hershey since Ron Hextall on Feb. 8, 1986.

P2-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. C2-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 2 – Tonight, 10:00 ET,
(Coachella Valley leads series, 1-0)

Game 1 – Thu., May 25 – COACHELLA VALLEY 6, Milwaukee 4 | Recap
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

Coachella Valley brings a 1-0 series lead into Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals tonight after Thursday’s 6-4 victory over Milwaukee... Firebirds captain Max McCormick (10-8-18) notched a third-period hat trick to lift his team to its fourth Game 1 win this postseason... It was McCormick’s fourth career AHL hat trick, and second in postseason play... Tye Kartye (3-2-5) tallied a goal and an assist for Coachella Valley, and Andrew Poturalski (2-0-2) scored the go-ahead goal with 11:51 to play... Alexander True (4-8-12) and Kole Lind (7-12-19) recorded two assists each... Jimmy Schuldt (4-2-6) netted the Firebirds’ league-leading third shorthanded goal of the playoffs... Joakim Kemell (6-1-7) scored his team-high sixth goal of the postseason for the Admirals in Game 1... Kemell, the 17th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, has recorded 12-8-20 in 23 games since joining Milwaukee in mid-March... Phil Tomasino (1-3-4) scored his first career playoff goal for the Admirals... After registering an assist in Game 1, Milwaukee defenseman Marc Del Gaizo (3-6-9) has 2-4-6 in his last five contests... The teams combined for 10 goals on 51 shots in Game 1... Milwaukee’s power play, 8-for-22 (36.4 percent) to start the postseason, has scored once in 13 chances since (7.7 percent)... Seventeen of the Admirals’ 33 goals against this postseason have been scored in the third period or overtime... Coachella Valley is 4-0 in Game 1’s this postseason, but 0-3 in Game 2’s.

The chess match continues tonight.

Rochester’s exceptional speed gave Hershey considerable trouble in Game 1, a 5-1 Amerks win. Bears head coach Todd Nelson and his team made a concerted effort to contain that Amerks attack in Game 2, and came away with a 2-0 victory in which they held Rochester to 24 shots.

Now it’s Rochester head coach Seth Appert’s turn to adjust further.

“I don’t think we played fast enough,” Appert said after the Game 2 loss. “I don’t think our D moved the puck fast enough.”

Tonight’s game will be a sellout at Blue Cross Arena, where the Amerks are 3-0 this postseason and continue to create an impressive home environment. A run to the North Division finals last year created considerable buzz around the city, and this year’s run — the Amerks’ first appearance in the conference finals in 19 years — has only taken that energy further.

“It’ll be great,” Appert said. “Our crowds have been insane. The playoff run last year kind of reignited our fan base and then this group… Because of how young we are and how much the team had to grow to get to this spot, I think our fan base has really fallen in love with this team. Our guys have earned that, so it’ll be great to get back home to have their support.”

The Bears have a mission on their trip to Rochester: take back home-ice advantage.

Getting at least a split from Games 3 and 4 would do that for the Bears, who are 3-0 on the road this postseason. They also atoned for their Game 1 loss with a masterful 2-0 win in Game 2 that evened the series.

Coach Nelson came away happy with how his players handled Rochester’s pace and up-tempo attack.

“It was a lot better,” Nelson said. “They’re going to play their game, and it’s effective for them. Once they get possession, they’re gone, they’re playing fast, and they’re a fast hockey team.”

Nelson also acknowledged how urgent it was to take Game 2 after dropping the opening game of the series. And when the Bears took a 2-0 lead into the third period in Game 2, they shut down any chance of a Rochester comeback, limiting the Amerks to only seven shots in the final frame.

“It was very high,” Nelson replied when asked about the need to win Game 2. “Rochester has...a tough environment to play in. And to go back to Rochester if we’re down 2-0, that’s a tough road. So it’s a huge win for our hockey team. I like the way that we clamped down, doing all the things necessary to get the win.”

Win tonight, and Milwaukee can go back home happy.

The Admirals got their first in-person look at Coachella Valley in a 6-4 loss in Game 1 on Thursday. The Firebirds looked every bit the offensively potent team that the Admirals expected, but a win tonight in Game 2 would ensure the Admirals play the next three games of the series back home at Panther Arena.

“It wasn’t our best night,” head coach Karl Taylor said via the team website. “We’re going to have to regroup and make sure that we focus on the prize and what we’re trying to do, and that’s trying to get a split here on the road. We still have an opportunity to do that.”

The Admirals have shown that they can deliver on the road in hostile buildings. They took two out of three games in Texas in the Central Division finals, and they also earned a two-game split with Manitoba in the division semifinals. They also went 23-10-2-1 on the road during the regular season, a .681 performance that ranked third in the AHL.

“I don’t know if we necessarily had our best game,” Milwaukee defenseman Kevin Gravel said after a team video session Friday. “We get a win [tonight], and we’re in a pretty good spot going back to Milwaukee.”

― Patrick Williams

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday night, Joe Pavelski scored 3:18 into overtime to give Dallas a 3-2 win over Vegas... Jason Robertson scored twice for the Stars, and Jake Oettinger made 37 saves... The Golden Knights still lead the Western Conference Final, three games to one, as they host Game 5 tonight.

In semifinal action at the 2023 IIHF World Championship earlier today, 2021-22 AHL Rookie of the Year Jack Quinn scored as Canada rallied with three third-period goals to defeat Latvia, 4-2... Abbotsford Canucks goaltender Arturs Silovs made 32 saves for Latvia, which had reached the semifinals for the first time in its history... Frederik Tiffels beat his former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins teammate Casey DeSmith at 7:32 of overtime to send Germany to the gold-medal match with a 4-3 upset of the United States.

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