AHL Morning Skate: May 8

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 – Charlotte 4, W-B/SCRANTON 3 (CHA wins series, 4-2)

1. AHL All-Rookie forward Zac Dalpe broke a 3-3 tie with 3:18 left in regulation, capping an improbable rally and giving Charlotte a series-clinching 4-3 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

2. Chris Terry netted a pair of goals for the Checkers, who will oppose Binghamton in the Eastern Conference Finals.

3. Brett Sutter posted a game-high three points (1-2-3) in the winning effort as Charlotte knocked off the AHL’s regular-season champions.

Game 6 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00 (HOU leads series, 3-2)
Game 6 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30 (HAM leads series, 3-2)

Playoff Bracket || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Portland Pirates vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 27 – Binghamton 3, PORTLAND 2
Game 2 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Binghamton 5, PORTLAND 3
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 30 – Portland 3, BINGHAMTON 2
Game 4 – Mon., May 2 – BINGHAMTON 6, Portland 1
Game 5 – Tue., May 3 – Portland 6, BINGHAMTON 2
Game 6 – Fri., May 6 – Binghamton 3, PORTLAND 0

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – Charlotte 3, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 30 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Charlotte 0
Game 3 – Mon., May 2 – CHARLOTTE 2, W-B/Scranton 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – CHARLOTTE 1, W-B/Scranton 0
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – W-B/Scranton 1, CHARLOTTE 0
Game 6 – Sat., May 7 – Charlotte 4, W-B/SCRANTON 3

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Manitoba Moose

Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 28 – HAMILTON 4, Manitoba 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – HAMILTON 4, Manitoba 2
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – MANITOBA 5, Hamilton 4
Game 4 – Wed., May 4 – MANITOBA 2, Hamilton 1 (2OT)
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Hamilton 5, MANITOBA 1
Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30
*Game 7 – Mon., May 9 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W2-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 29 – MILWAUKEE 3, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 0
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Milwaukee 5, HOUSTON 3
Game 4 – Thu., May 5 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 10 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 6 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00 (HOU leads series, 3-2)
Fresh off a pair of overtime victories on home ice, Houston visits the Bradley Center tonight needing only one more win over Milwaukee to close out the West Division Finals… The Aeros, who are a remarkable 11-0 in their last 11 playoff overtime games dating back to the 2003 Calder Cup Finals, are bidding to reach the conference finals for the second time in the last three years… Houston rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the final five minutes of the third period in Game 5 on Friday night before Robbie Earl tallied his second goal of the game at 8:45 of overtime… Prior to the two-goal performance, Earl had not found the back of the net since scoring in Houston’s playoff opener vs. Peoria back on Apr. 13… Rookie Casey Wellman and Cody Almond picked up assists on the game-winner; Wellman (1-4-5) registered his second multiple-point effort of the postseason, and Almond now has three helpers in his last three contests… Aeros forward Chad Rau sent Friday’s tilt into overtime when he tied it up with 1:21 left in regulation… Rau landed nine shots on goal during the game, second only to the 12 fired by Patrick O’Sullivan… O’Sullivan picked up an assist on Rau’s goal, and captain Jon DiSalvatore also earned a helper to snap a five-game points drought… DiSalvatore still has only two points (1-1-2) in nine playoff games after leading Houston in goals (28) and points (61) while playing all 80 games during the regular season… Houston defenseman Maxim Noreau has collected three assists in the past two games, and rookie goaltender Matt Hackett stopped 23 of 25 shots in Game 5 to improve to 7-2 (2.04, .903) in nine postseason outings… Milwaukee got goals from Ryan Thang and Steve Begin on Friday night, the latter coming shorthanded with five seconds left in the second period… The MVP of the 2001 Calder Cup Playoffs with the Saint John Flames, Begin leads all Admirals scorers with six points (3-3-6) through the first five games of this series after recording just one assist in Milwaukee’s six-game triumph over Texas in the division semifinals… Thang ranks second on Milwaukee with five points (3-2-5) against the Aeros this round and has a goal in four of his last seven contests overall (4-3-7)… Admirals forward Kelsey Wilson is riding a three-game assist streak (0-3-3), and Mike Bartlett shows three points (1-2-3) in his last three games… Jeremy Smith took the tough-luck loss in Game 5 despite making 50 stops in net, his second 50-plus-save effort of the 2011 playoffs.

Game 6 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30 (HAM leads series, 3-2)
Returning home to Copps Coliseum, Hamilton looks to eliminate Manitoba tonight in Game 6 of the North Division Finals and advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year and third time in the past five springs… In order to pull off the comeback, Manitoba will need to win back-to-back road games over a Bulldogs squad which is a perfect 5-0 at home during the postseason… The teams held serve on home ice through the first four games of this series before Hamilton broke through for a convincing 5-1 win on Friday night at the MTS Centre… Winnipeg native Nigel Dawes scored twice in that contest, his first two goals since scoring in Game 1 against the Moose… Among all AHL postseason scorers, Dawes ranks second in goals (8) and fourth in points (13) through 11 games, and the 26-year-old has found the scoresheet in nine of his 11 playoff outings to date… Ryan White posted a goal and an assist in Game 5 and now shows four points (2-2-4) in four games since joining Hamilton from the parent Montreal Canadiens… Ryan Russell and Jimmy Bonneau rounded out Hamilton’s scoring on Friday night… Russell has collected three goals (3-0-3) this round after scoring just once in the division semifinals vs. Oklahoma City, while Bonneau registered his first career AHL postseason goal… Rookie defenseman Kyle Klubertanz chipped in two helpers and has posted at least one assist in all five games vs. Manitoba thus far (0-6-6)… Bulldogs forward Dustin Boyd has gone scoreless in four consecutive games since a two-assist effort in Game 1 against the Moose on Apr. 28… Hamilton goaltender Drew MacIntyre, who ranks fourth in the AHL in both goals-against average (1.83) and save percentage (.933), stopped 22 of 23 shots in Game 5 and improved to 7-4 in the playoffs… MacIntyre is bidding to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2006 with Grand Rapids, when he teamed up with current Detroit Red Wings backstop Jimmy HowardMarco Rosa tallied the Moose’s lone goal of Game 5 on the power play and has now produced four points (2-2-4) in his last three outings… Manitoba forwards Sergei Shirokov (6-3-9) and Jason Jaffray (3-5-8) were held scoreless on Friday, and that duo has totaled only four points (2-2-4) through the first five games of this series… The Moose are 3-0 in elimination games this spring, having erased a 3-1 series deficit to Lake Erie – including road wins in Games 6 and 7 – in the first round.


The Charlotte Checkers can celebrate. Charlotte punched its ticket to the next round of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs by rallying from a three-goal, third-period deficit to stun top-seeded Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-3 Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Checkers, who also rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win Game 5 of the East Division semifinals against the Hershey Bears, will have home-ice advantage when they get back to work against the Binghamton Senators in the Eastern Conference finals.

CHECKMATE – Citizens’ Voice
In the corner of the home locker room at the Mohegan Sun Arena hangs a piece of plywood with 58 pucks stuck to it, one for each win the team recorded in a record-breaking regular season. The 2010-11 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins might end up being better remembered for four other pucks, though, the ones that ended up in the back of their net during a stunning third-period collapse that sealed their fate at season’s end.

When Joe Vitale scored a short-handed goal early in the third period to put the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins up 3-0 over the Charlotte Checkers, it looked as if the series would be settled with a Game 7. And then the unthinkable happened, and it occurred quickly. In the blink of an eye, the team that dominated the AHL all regular season and led the league with 58 wins was done.

Making their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2003, the Binghamton Senators will face a team that got there in its first try. The Charlotte Checkers, in their first season as an American Hockey League franchise, advanced Saturday to the conference finals against the B-Sens with a 4-3 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The best-of-seven series will begin Thursday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.

Dial it up or dial it down? After emotions spilled over Friday night at the MTS Centre, that’s the choice the Manitoba Moose must make tonight when they meet the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game 6 of their North Division final series at Copps Coliseum. Hamilton leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 after Friday’s 5-1 win, a game that turned ugly late. “I thought we did a lot of good things in Game 5 but obviously guys have to have cool heads,” said Moose winger Jason Jaffray.

The debate can rage. Cody Hodgson doesn’t wish to wade into the fray. The Vancouver Canucks rookie forward, a first-year pro, is a wanted man in Winnipeg. The AHL Manitoba Moose are on the verge of losing their playoff series with the Hamilton Bulldogs and could use Hodgson these days. The former junior standout would be in a top-line role for the Moose. Instead, he’s skating on the fourth line for the Canucks in limited action.

Two dramatic overtime wins at Toyota Center this week have put the Aeros in a great position to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three years. After splitting in Milwaukee to open the series, the Aeros won two of three at home and now just need one victory to earn a date with either the Manitoba Moose or the Hamilton Bulldogs. Today, the Aeros will get their first crack at putting away the Admirals, who host Game 6 tonight at Bradley Center.

Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall was known to vomit before games because he thought he would lose if he didn’t. It is unlikely Milwaukee Admirals goalie Jeremy Smith has the same superstition, but maybe he does. “I have a couple,” he said. “Specifically, I kind of want to keep them to myself because people might think I’m crazy.” So we’ll never know if Smith talks to the goal posts like another Hall of Fame goalie, Patrick Roy, did. Or if he refuses to get haircuts on road trips or puts baby powder on his hockey stick like Wayne Gretzky.

Fewer than 24 hours after their elimination from the Calder Cup playoffs, members of the Portland Pirates were packing up Saturday and heading for home. “I think it’s the toughest thing for a professional athlete, from going to being engaged in something like the postseason and all of a sudden being cut off cold turkey,” Portland captain Matt Ellis said. “The end of the year never gets any easier 10 years in. It never feels good.”

SIMPLY PUT, RESPECT DINEEN – Maine Sunday Telegram
The switch was thrown long before the Portland Pirates’ locker room had emptied Friday night, starting the process of ice-out at the Cumberland County Civic Center. By midnight there was enough water to splash when you stepped into the crease where Jhonas Enroth had crouched three hours earlier. There’s no better sign the hockey season is done. That, and the questions over Kevin Dineen’s future. Through six seasons, there’s not much more he can prove in his transition from NHL player to AHL coach.

Joel Ward, who played three seasons (2005-08) with the AHL’s Houston Aeros, scored twice and added an assist last night as Nashville fought off elimination with a 4-3 win at Vancouver in Game 5 of the teams’ Western Conference semifinal… 2005 AHL All-Star Ryan Kesler (2-0-2) and two-time Calder Cup finalist Raffi Torres (1-1-2) each had two points for the Canucks in the losing effort.

9:18 – Time it took Charlotte to score four goals in the third period of last night’s Game 6 clincher at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

325:46 – Time it took Charlotte to score its four previous goals, going all the way back to the first period of Game 1.

0 – Teams from Pennsylvania that will be in the Calder Cup Finals this season, the first time since 2003 that the Keystone State has been shut out of the AHL’s championship series.

May 8, 2004Kari Lehtonen stops 54 of 55 shots in Chicago’s 3-1 win over Milwaukee in Game 3 of their West Division final series.

May 8, 1999 – John Spoltore’s second overtime goal of the series gives Providence a 5-4 win over Hartford and a 3-0 lead in their New England Division final.

May 8, 1981 – The Maine Mariners advance to the Finals for the third time in four years as Bruce Crowder scores in overtime of Game 7 for a 4-3 win over New Brunswick.

May 8, 1974 – The Hershey Bears win the Calder Cup with a 4-3 win over the Providence Reds in Game 5 at Hersheypark Arena.

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.