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.
2011 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Fri., May 27 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:35
Game 2 – Sat., May 28 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:35
Game 3 – Wed., June 1 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05
Game 4 – Fri., June 3 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., June 4 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Tue., June 7 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:05
*Game 7 – Thu., June 9 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern
TUESDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Houston captain Jon DiSalvatore’s goal with 1:13 left in regulation broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Aeros to the Calder Cup Finals with a 4-3 victory over Hamilton in Game 7.
2. Rookie Casey Wellman scored twice in Houston’s Game 7 win.
3. Dustin Boyd recorded a goal and an assist for the Bulldogs, finishing his postseason with 16 points in 20 games.
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 1 – Binghamton at Houston, 8:35
Video Webcast: AHL Live (www.ahllive.com)
TV: Time Warner Cable 23 & HD 813 (Binghamton)
Series Preview: http://theahl.com/houston-binghamton-set-for-finals-p171201
The AHL’s 75th championship series is set to get underway tonight at Toyota Center in Houston as the Western Conference champion Aeros host the Eastern Conference champion Binghamton Senators for Game 1 of the 2011 Calder Cup Finals… The Aeros finished second in the West Division during the regular season before dispatching Peoria (4-0), Milwaukee (4-3), and Hamilton (4-3) in the postseason to reach the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 2003… Coming off five consecutive playoff misses, the Senators crossed over to the Atlantic Division’s bracket and knocked off Manchester (4-3) and Portland (4-2) before earning a four-game sweep of Charlotte in the conference finals… Binghamton is in the Finals for the first time in the franchise’s nine-year history … The Senators enter tonight’s Game 1 with an eight-game road winning streak, one win shy of an AHL record set by the 1998 Philadelphia Phantoms… Binghamton, 8-1 on the road overall, has not lost away from the Broome County Arena since its postseason opener, a 2-1 setback at Manchester on Apr. 14… Acquired midseason in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, forward Ryan Potulny leads the entire AHL with 14 goals and 25 points in 17 games for the Senators this spring… Potulny enters the night on a four-game scoring streak (4-2-6), and he has registered at least a point in 14 of the B-Sens’ 17 playoff games to date… Binghamton captain Ryan Keller is riding a five-game scoring streak (2-5-7) and shows a point in 10 of his last 11 contests (7-9-16) while playing on a line with Potulny… Zack Smith, who appeared in 55 NHL games with Ottawa in 2010-11, produced just three assists in the first round against Manchester but has racked up 14 points (6-8-14) in 10 games since… Bobby Butler paces AHL rookies with 10 playoff goals for Binghamton (10-3-13), and Kaspars Daugavins also has 10 goals (10-7-17) in 17 postseason tilts after scoring 19 times (19-35-54) in 73 regular-season contests… This series features a pair of rookie goaltenders in 19-year-old Robin Lehner of Binghamton (10-2, 2.41, .932, 2 SO) and 21-year-old Matt Hackett of Houston (12-6, 2.56, .898, 1 SO)… The Aeros are coming off a conference finals match-up vs. Hamilton in which they coughed up a 3-0 series lead before taking a one-goal victory in Game 7… Rookie Casey Wellman (5-5-10) had a pair of goals in that triumph and captain Jon DiSalvatore (5-4-9) tallied the game-winner late in the third period… Former AHL rookie of the year Patrick O’Sullivan paces Houston with 15 points (4-11-15) during these playoffs; Jed Ortmeyer (4-7-11) and First Team AHL All-Star defenseman Maxim Noreau (4-7-11) are deadlocked with 11 points each; and five other Houston skaters show 10 points apiece… Aeros forward Chad Rau (6-3-9) netted a goal in Game 6 and Game 7 vs. Hamilton, and his six playoff goals are nearly halfway to the 13 he scored in 60 regular-season outings (13-27-40)… Houston has been outscored 22-14 in the first period of games this postseason but has outscored its opponents 39-29 the rest of the way, including a 19-12 margin in the third period… Binghamton boasts the AHL’s most prolific playoff offense (3.94 goals per game), and the B-Sens have scored a league-high five shorthanded goals after managing a league-low four in the regular season… The Game 1 winner has gone on to capture 10 of 14 Calder Cup Playoff series so far this spring, but both Binghamton (division semifinals vs. Manchester) and Houston (division finals vs. Milwaukee) have rallied to win a series after dropping Game 1.
RESILIANT AEROS FINDING WAYS TO WIN AS AHL FINALS BEGIN – Houston Chronicle
The Aeros had just one day to enjoy Tuesday night’s dramatic Game 7 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Wednesday was a day off, and then it was back to work Thursday to prepare for Game 1 of the AHL Calder Cup finals against the Binghamton Senators. The first game of the best-of-seven series is at 7:35 tonight at Toyota Center. A somewhat charmed franchise, the Aeros are in the league finals for the third time since 1999.
TEXAS SIZZLER HAS B-SENS READY TO GO – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The ice conditions might not be ideal. But who can complain when an American Hockey League championship is just four wins away? The Binghamton Senators practiced at a steamy Toyota Center on Thursday in preparation for Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals against the Houston Aeros on Friday and can’t wait to get things started.
KURT AND HIS CLANS ENJOYING THE RIDE – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
As Binghamton Senators coach Kurt Kleinendorst and his newest hockey family prepare for the first game of the Calder Cup Finals in Houston, his first family is back in Vestal waiting to cheer on the team that has become an integral part of their lives. Kleinendorst’s wife Deon and three of their children — Kollin, Katie and Jake — are along for the ride he has called one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of his life.
SPECTACULAR FEBRUARY FUELED B-SENS – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
"You play 80 games to get into the playoffs." Those words have been uttered by nearly everyone in the Binghamton Senators’ locker room at some point this season. Not one of their players competed in all 80 games, but each one who suited up played a part in the team reaching the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in the franchise’s nine-year history. Here’s a look back at the regular season:
B-SENS HAVE CHANCE TO ADD CROWN JEWEL TO CITY’S HOCKEY LEGACY – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The players and coaches say they understand. But do they? From the date of the first pro game here, in 1973, until now, when the Senators are playing late into May and early June, there has never been a championship hockey team in town. This is the 29th year of the American Hockey League in Binghamton. Add in nine years of lesser leagues, the United Hockey League Icemen and the North American Hockey League Dusters, of the Slap Shot era, and you’ve got 37 years without a championship trophy.
WINNING CULTURE GOOD FOR B-SENS, FUTURE IN OTTAWA – OttawaSenators.com
The American Hockey League, above all else, is about player development. But winning, as Binghamton head coach Kurt Kleinendorst has been known to say, comes a very close second. And the good puck-loving folks in the Southern Tier, who are reveling in the best Calder Cup playoff ride they’ve seen in years, would no doubt nod their heads in total agreement. Much as the current playoff drive has been uplifting for the team and fans in Binghamton, it’s also helping pave the way for a brighter future in Ottawa.
HOME ICE GROWING INTO MORE OF AN ADVANTAGE – Houston Chronicle
Everybody loves a winner. And with the Aeros just four victories away from a third championship, fans are getting on board for the Bayou City’s best hockey since 2003. Jon DiSalvatore’s series-clinching goal Tuesday night at Toyota Center helped eliminate the pesky Hamilton Bulldogs from the playoffs. The only team left in the way is the Eastern Conference champion Binghamton Senators, with the Aeros hosting Game 1 on Friday night.
WELL-RESTED B-SENS EARN AEROS’ RESPECT – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
The Binghamton Senators had more than a week to relish their Eastern Conference title. For the Western Conference champion Houston Aeros, one night had to cut it. While the B-Sens traveled to Houston on Wednesday in preparation for Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals, Aeros coaches were busy scouting a team they’ve never seen and have had barely any time to consider. "Whenever you’re getting matched up in the playoffs, what you’re trying to do is find the weaknesses of your opponent," Aeros coach Mike Yeo said. "They don’t seem to have a lot."
AROUND THE AHL: CALDER CUP FINAL PREVIEW – TheHockeyNews.com
And then there were two. The American League has whittled down its 30-team contingent to a pair of clubs that will battle it out in a somewhat unlikely Calder Cup final. The Binghamton Senators and Houston Aeros will line up to conclude the circuit’s 75th anniversary season. What makes it so unlikely is the fact both teams missed the playoffs last season and that, while the Aeros put up 98 points in a grueling Western Conference battle, the Senators’ 92 points ranked second-lowest among Eastern Conference teams.
LEHNER, HACKETT RENEW OLD RIVALRY – The Sports Network
There will be a familiar showdown between the pipes when the Houston Aeros and the Binghamton Senators take to the ice for Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals on Friday. Senators rookie Robin Lehner and Aeros freshman Matt Hackett are only a year removed from facing each other in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, where Hackett’s Plymouth Whalers disposed of Lehner’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in five games in the first round.
HARD DECISIONS AHEAD FOR HABS AND BULLDOGS – Hamilton Spectator
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Now that the Hamilton Bulldogs season has ended, the Montreal Canadiens have to start thinking about what this team will look like when the 2011-12 campaign begins in October. The Habs have six players under contract who are with the Bulldogs but become restricted free agents July 1. They are Mathieu Carle, Dustin Boyd, Nigel Dawes, Frédéric St. Denis, Kyle Klubertanz and Ryan Russell.
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
Former Manitoba Moose Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa scored and Roberto Luongo made 54 saves as Vancouver won the Western Conference championship with a 3-2 double-OT win over San Jose on Tuesday night… Former AHL All-Stars Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis scored two goals each in Tampa Bay’s 5-4 win over Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday.
BY THE NUMBERS:
29 – Seasons in which the city of Binghamton has had a team in the American Hockey League (Broome Dusters 1977-80, Whalers 1980-90, Rangers 1990-97, Senators 2002- ).
29 – Years since Binghamton’s only previous trip to the Calder Cup Finals, an appearance by the Whalers in 1982.
75.7 – Percentage of Game 1 winners in the Calder Cup Finals who have gone on to win the series (56 of 74).
ON THIS DATE:
May 27, 2005 – Brad Boyes snaps a tie with 1:10 left in regulation as Providence defeats Philadelphia, 6-4, to stave off elimination in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
May 27, 1999 – Jose Theodore’s 49-save shutout extends Fredericton’s season one more day, as the Canadiens take Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals from Providence, 4-0.
May 27, 1997 – Joe Hulbig scores twice as the first-year Hamilton Bulldogs win the Northern Conference championship with a 7-3 win over Albany in Game 5 at Copps Coliseum
May 27, 1994 – Stephane Beauregard and the Moncton Hawks shut out Portland, 4-0, in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals.
May 27, 1992 – The St. John’s Maple Leafs improve their road record to 7-0 with a 5-2 victory over the Adirondack Red Wings in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals, forcing a winner-take-all match back in Newfoundland.
Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2011 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.