AHL Morning Skate: May 8

Take a game-day spin around the AHL ice with latest from around the American Hockey League in today’s Morning Skate.

Complete Schedule || Playoff Brackets || Today’s Scoreboard || League Leaders

Tonight’s Previews

gr  tex
Game 1 – 8:30 ET, AHL Live
It’s a battle of AHL powers in the Western Conference semifinals as the Texas Stars host the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series tonight… The Griffins are the defending Calder Cup champions and are coming off a 46-win, 99-point regular season in 2013-14; the Stars finished first overall with 106 points and earned the top seed in the conference for the second year in a row… Texas has been off since completing a three-game first-round sweep of Oklahoma City eight days ago… Justin Dowling (1-4-5) led the Stars in scoring in the conference quarterfinals, including scoring the winning goal in the series-clinching Game 3… Mike Hedden (2-1-3) and Brendan Ranford (2-1-3) scored overtime winners for Texas in the first two games vs. the Barons… Cristopher Nilstorp (2-0, 1.91, .922) and Jack Campbell (1-0, 1.61, .950) combined to stop 85 of 91 shots in the first round… Grand Rapids defeated Abbotsford in four games, wrapping that series up last Friday… Teemu Pulkkinen (2-3-5) paced the Griffins’ offense, and Petr Mrazek (3-1, 1.72, .936) allowed just eight goals on 125 Heat shots… Captain Jeff Hoggan (3-1-4), who scored five goals in 24 postseason games last spring, already has three through four games this postseason… Grand Rapids, which won three of four meetings with Texas in the regular season, was one of only two AHL teams (Rockford, 2-0-0-0) to post a winning record against the Stars in 2013-14… Texas ranked second in the AHL in scoring during the regular season; Grand Rapids was second in goals against… This marks the first postseason meeting between the AHL’s regular-season champion and the previous year’s playoff champion since 2000, when Hartford dethroned Providence on its way to winning a Calder Cup of its own.

Western Conference Semifinals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
1-Texas Stars vs. 4-Grand Rapids Griffins

Game 1 – Thu., May 8 – Grand Rapids at Texas, 8:30
Game 2 – Sat., May 10 – Grand Rapids at Texas, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 13 – Texas at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 14 – Texas at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 16 – Texas at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., May 18 – Grand Rapids at Texas, 8:00
*Game 7 – Mon., May 19 – Grand Rapids at Texas, 8:30
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

About Last Night…
St. John’s evened its best-of-seven series with Norfolk at one game apiece with a 2-1 victory over the Admirals last night, salvaging a split at home after Tuesday’s Game 1 loss… Josh Morrissey, a 2013 first-round draft pick by Winnipeg, scored his first professional goal and Jason Jaffray added his 28th career Calder Cup Playoff tally for the IceCaps… Michael Hutchinson stopped 32 of 33 shots, allowing no more than one goal for the fourth time in six playoff starts… Chris Wagner had Norfolk’s only goal in Game 2, and John Gibson finished 39 saves in the loss.

Working Overtime
There have been 10 overtime games played in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs so far… Road teams are 7-3 this year, and 27-9 in the last 36 playoff OT games overall:

Apr. 23 – Springfield 3, PROVIDENCE 2 (Andrew Joudrey, 2:21)
Apr. 23 – Texas 3, OKLAHOMA CITY 2 (Mike Hedden, 5:35)
Apr. 25 – Providence 2, SPRINGFIELD 1 (Matt Fraser, 3:54)
Apr. 25 – W-B/Scranton 3, BINGHAMTON 2 (Anton Zlobin, 8:40)
Apr. 25 – Chicago 4, ROCHESTER 3 (Dmitrij Jaskin, 1:06)
Apr. 25 – Grand Rapids 2, ABBOTSFORD 1 (Ryan Sproul, 39:26)
Apr. 26 – BINGHAMTON 4, W-B/Scranton 3 (Stephane Da Costa, 11:07)
Apr. 26 – Texas 3, OKLAHOMA CITY 2 (Brendan Ranford, 15:04)
Apr. 30 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Binghamton 2 (Chuck Kobasew, 7:32)
Apr. 30 – NORFOLK 1, Manchester 0 (Maxime Sauve, 14:51)

#1 vs. the Champ
The Texas-Grand Rapids series marks the 19th time ever that the AHL’s regular-season champion has met the defending Calder Cup champion in the postseason… In the previous 18 matchups, the regular-season champion is 11-7:

2000 Eastern Conference Finals – Hartford Wolf Pack (RS) def. Providence Bruins (CC), 4-3
1998 Western Conference Semifinals – Philadelphia Phantoms (RS) def. Hershey Bears (CC), 4-0
1994 Atlantic Division Semifinals – St. John’s Maple Leafs (RS) def. Cape Breton Oilers (CC), 4-1
1991 Calder Cup Finals – Springfield Indians (CC) def. Rochester Americans (RS), 4-2
1987 Northern Division Semifinals – Sherbrooke Canadiens (RS) def. Adirondack Red Wings (CC), 4-1
1984 Southern Division Finals – Rochester Americans (CC) def. Baltimore Skipjacks (RS), 4-2
1982 Northern Division Semifinals – New Brunswick Hawks (RS) def. Adirondack Red Wings (CC), 3-2
1978 Northern Division Finals – Maine Mariners (RS) def. Nova Scotia Voyageurs (CC), 4-3
1973 Calder Cup Finals – Cincinnati Swords (RS) def. Nova Scotia Voyageurs (CC), 4-1
1967 Calder Cup Finals – Pittsburgh Hornets (RS) def. Rochester Americans (CC), 4-0
1966 Semifinals – Rochester Americans (CC) def. Quebec Aces (RS), 4-2
1959 Calder Cup Finals – Hershey Bears (CC) def. Buffalo Bisons (RS), 4-2
1954 Semifinals – Cleveland Barons (CC) def. Buffalo Bisons (RS), 3-0
1953 Calder Cup Finals – Cleveland Barons (RS) def. Pittsburgh Hornets (CC), 4-3
1946 Calder Cup Finals – Buffalo Bisons (RS) def. Cleveland Barons (CC), 4-3
1945 Semifinals – Cleveland Barons (RS) def. Buffalo Bisons (CC), 4-2
1944 Calder Cup Finals – Buffalo Bisons (CC) def. Cleveland Barons (RS), 4-0
1938 Semifinals – Syracuse Stars (CC) def. Cleveland Barons (RS), 2-0

AHL Live
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2014 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet all season long with live video webcasts and free highlights of every AHL game… Visit ahllive.com for details.