AHL Morning Skate: May 29, 2023

A2-Hershey Bears vs. N3-Rochester Americans
Game 4 – Tonight, 6:05 ET,
, NBC Sports Washington, MSG Network
(Hershey leads series, 2-1)

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 4, ROCHESTER 2 | Recap
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 Hershey Bears became the first team to solve the Rochester Americans at Blue Cross Arena this postseason, taking a 4-2 decision in Game 3 on Saturday night to grab a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals... Hunter Shepard (8-2, 1.90, .929) stopped 31 of 33 shots for an Amerks team that had scored 20 goals in its previous three home games... Sam Anas (3-6-9), Logan Day (2-4-6) and Aliaksei Protas (4-5-9) each had a goal and an assist for the Bears, who are now 4-0 on the road during the playoffs... Connor McMichael (4-2-6) scored what proved to be the game-winning goal midway through the second period... Defenseman Zach Metsa (1-1-2), who joined the Amerks after winning a national championship at Quinnipiac University last month, netted his first professional goal on Saturday... With his Game 2 assist, Michael Mersch (5-7-12) has moved into a tie with Mason Jobst (3-9-12) for Rochester’s playoff scoring lead... Malcolm Subban (7-4, 2.79, .910) made 21 saves in Game 3... Rochester has scored four goals or more in each of its seven wins this postseason, but has been held to two goals or fewer in each of its four losses... Attendance for Game 3 was 10,746 fans, the largest crowd at Blue Cross Arena in more than 17 years (Dec. 30, 2005).

P2-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. C2-Milwaukee Admirals
Game 3 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
(Coachella Valley leads series, 2-0)

Game 1 – Thu., May 25 – COACHELLA VALLEY 6, Milwaukee 4 | Recap
Game 2 – Sat., May 27 – COACHELLA VALLEY 5, Milwaukee 3 | Recap
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

The Milwaukee Admirals have a big hill to climb as they return home down 0-2 in the Western Conference Finals... Coachella Valley won a Game 2 for the first time this postseason with a 5-3 decision on Saturday night... The Firebirds are 4-0 in Game 1’s but had been 0-3 in Game 2’s before Saturday... Ten different skaters contributed a point in the win, with Jesper Froden (2-3-5) and Ville Petman (4-3-7) scoring early in the second period to give the Firebirds the lead for good... Captain Max McCormick (11-8-19)’s empty-net goal was his league-leading 11th goal of the postseason... Joey Daccord (10-5, 2.27, .927) made 24 stops in the Game 2 win, but has an .857 save percentage in the series... Zach Sanford (3-4-7), Anthony Angello (1-1-2) and Egor Afanasyev (3-5-8) scored for Milwaukee in Game 2... Angello’s goal ended a personal 16-game drought... Spencer Stastney (1-4-5) recorded his second consecutive two-assist game, and Phil Tomasino (1-5-6) also tallied two assists in Game 2... Yaroslav Askarov (6-6, 2.70, .903) finished with 32 saves on 35 shots... Captain Cole Schneider (0-3-3) returned to the Milwaukee lineup for Game 2 after being scratched the previous four contests... The Admirals, playing at home this evening for the first time since May 13, are 3-2 at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena this postseason; the Firebirds, on the road for the first time since May 12, are 2-2 away from home... Teams with a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven Calder Cup Playoff series are 226-24 (90.4 percent) all-time.

Even coming off a Game 2 win, the Hershey Bears had changes in store for Game 3.

Head coach Todd Nelson altered a portion of his forward lines for Game 3. Rookie Ethen Frank, without a playoff goal after leading all AHL rookies with 30 tallies in the regular season, came out of the lineup. Shane Gersich dressed for the first time since May 4, when the Bears closed out their Atlantic Division semifinal series against Charlotte. Mason Morelli, who had been part of an excellent fourth line, moved up to take Frank’s place on a line with Mike Vecchione and Henrik Borgstrom; Gersich filled Morelli’s fourth-line spot.

One line that did stay intact featured Aliaksei Protas, Hendrix Lapierre and Sam Anas. Anas picked up an assist on the game’s opening goal and then popped in one of his own on the power play early in the second period to help Hershey to a 4-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.

Now the Bears have an opportunity to put the Amerks in big trouble with another win tonight in Game 4 at Rochester. The teams will then go back to Hershey for Game 5 on Wednesday.

After being disappointed by their play in Game 1, a 5-1 loss, the Bears have put together back-to-back tight performances against a Rochester team that had won seven games in a row. They also handed the Amerks their first home loss of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

“I think we still had a good attitude the day after that [loss],” said Anas, who was a Calder Cup finalist with Springfield last season. “It’s kind of like a cool confidence in a sense. You just can’t get too high, too low, so I think we’ve been approaching these days pretty similarly.”

That approach also means that they were not reading too much into their Game 3 victory, either.

“It doesn’t feel too much different, but it feels good,” Anas said of his club’s mood on Sunday.

The Bears, accustomed to playing to big crowds at home, also went into sold-out Blue Cross Arena and handled the environment.

“It was awesome,” said Anas, who faced a similiar situation in last year’s conference finals at Laval’s Place Bell. “It’s kind of fun to be the enemy on the road. I think we really fed off that. It’s just a good energy in the building.”

The Amerks have not played behind a series since fighting off elimination three consecutive times in the best-of-five North Division semifinals against Syracuse.

Head coach Seth Appert and his staff sat down after the second period on Saturday and reconfigured the team’s forward lines. Hershey has adjusted to Rochester’s speed and shifted the past two games to a grinding battle. Appert decided that he needed to spread out some of his club’s heaviness across his forward lines and generate more sustained time inside the offensive zone.

“It was better,” Appert said of the third period after those adjustments. [Hershey] is the best defensive team in the league, so it’s not surprising. None of this is surprising. This is exactly the team we thought we’d be playing.

“We’ve got to score more dirty goals to be able to get to them.”

― Patrick Williams

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night, Ty Dellandrea scored twice in the third period to lift Dallas to a 4-2 win over Vegas in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final... The Stars still trail the series, three games to two, as they host Game 6 tonight... Jason Robertson and Luke Glendening also scored for Dallas while 2023 AHL All-Star Thomas Harley recorded two assists... Jake Oettinger made 27 saves.

At the 2023 IIHF World Championship on Sunday, Sammy Blais scored twice, including the winning goal early in the third period, as Canada captured the gold medal with a 5-2 win over Germany... JJ Peterka scored for Germany, which earned its first medal at the tournament since 1953... Calgary Wranglers defenseman Kristians Rubins scored late in regulation and again 1:22 into overtime to give Latvia its first-ever World Championship medal with a 4-3 victory over the United States in the bronze-medal match... Abbotsford Canucks goaltender Arturs Silovs was selected as the tournament MVP after recording a .921 save percentage in 10 starts for Latvia... Rockford IceHogs forward Rocco Grimaldi finished with 14 points for Team USA, tops among all tournament scorers.

Watch the Calder Cup Playoffs on AHLTV
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2023 Calder Cup championship. AHLTV features live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as OTT platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. A subscription is just $29.99 for the entire postseason, or just $8.99 for a day pass. Visit AHLTV.com for details.