AHL Morning Skate: Penguins aim for 2-0 lead

AHL Quick Hits is now the Morning Skate… Every morning, take 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.


W-B/SCRANTON 2, Portland 0 (WBS leads, 1-0)


1. Dave Gove broke a scoreless tie in the third period to propel Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 2-0 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

2. Goaltender John Curry pitched a 19-save shutout for the Penguins in Game 1.

3. Pirates goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 21 saves in the losing effort.


Game 2 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 (WBS leads, 1-0)


Complete Results || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders


Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)

E1-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview

Game 1 – Wed., May 14 – W-B/SCRANTON 2, Portland 0

Game 2 – Thu., May 15 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

Game 3 – Sun., May 18 – W-B/Scranton at Portland, 4:05

Game 4 – Tue., May 20 – W-B/Scranton at Portland, 7:05

*Game 5 – Wed., May 21 – W-B/Scranton at Portland, 7:05

*Game 6 – Fri., May 23 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

*Game 7 – Sat., May 24 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05


Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)

W1-Chicago Wolves vs. N1-Toronto Marlies || Preview

Game 1 – Fri., May 16 – Toronto at Chicago, 8:30

Game 2 – Sun., May 18 – Toronto at Chicago, 4:00

Game 3 – Tue., May 20 – Chicago at Toronto, 7:30

Game 4 – Wed., May 21 – Chicago at Toronto, 7:30

*Game 5 – Fri., May 23 – Toronto at Chicago, 8:30

*Game 6 – Sun., May 25 – Chicago at Toronto, 4:00

*Game 7 – Tue., May 27 – Toronto at Chicago, 8:00


*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):

Game 2 – Portland at W-B/Scranton, 7:05 (WBS leads, 1-0)

Fresh off a 2-0 shutout in Game 1 on Wednesday, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton hosts Portland again tonight in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals… Rookie goaltender John Curry (9-2) made 19 saves for the Penguins in picking up his first postseason shutout… Curry has faced the Pirates twice this season and has shut them out both times… Dave Gove snapped a scoreless tie with 6:57 left in the third period, scoring his first goal since Game 2 of the division semifinals on Apr. 19… Ryan Stone picked up an assist on Gove’s goal to run his scoring streak to five games (2-6-8), and Tim Wallace extended his own scoring streak to three contests (1-2-3) with the other helper… Third-year defenseman Ryan Lannon added an empty-net tally in the closing minute for his first goal in 33 career AHL playoff games… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton extended its overall winning streak to five games since dropping Game 1 of the division finals to Philadelphia on May 1… The Penguins, who had lost seven straight Game 1’s from 2004-06, have won two of three series openers this postseason… The Pirates have been shut out in three of their last four Game 1’s, going back to the 2006 conference finals… Jean-Sebastien Aubin (8-2) had his personal eight-game winning streak snapped last night, finishing with 21 saves on 22 shots… Portland’s penalty-killing unit, 2-for-2 in Game 1, has an 87.9 percent success rate for the playoffs, tops among the four conference finalists… Two other teams have recorded Game 1 shutouts this season, and both wound up losing their series (Albany vs. Philadelphia, Providence vs. Portland)… Thirty years ago today, the Maine Mariners won the city of Portland’s first Calder Cup championship.




Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

Don’t let the score deceive you. Coming into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, all eight of the Portland Pirates’ playoff wins came by one goal. On Wednesday, they essentially lost their first. Although the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won the game 2-0, both teams played to a draw until Dave Gove scored his second playoff goal at 14:03 in the third period. Ryan Lannon added an empty-netter with 13 seconds left. Gove scored the game-winner after he made the first shot on net during a rush into the Portland end. Pirates goaltender J.S. Aubin made the save, but the rebound rolled out to the corner of the crease. Tim Wallace swatted at the puck while attracting a throng of Portland players. Gove dove at the loose puck and lifted a shot that deflected off Petteri Wirtanen’s leg and past Aubin into the corner of the net.




Paul Betit, Portland Press-Herald

Round One of the AHL’s Eastern Conference final series went to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday night. The Portland Pirates played the Pens even for the first 53 minutes of the game, but lost 2-0. Dave Gove ended a scoreless duel when he banged a rebound past goalie J.S. Aubin with 6:57 left before a crowd of 4,804 at the Wachovia Arena. “When you go on the road for two games, your goal is to get a split,” Portland center Andrew Ebbett said. “We didn’t get it tonight. But we’ll hold our heads high and come back strong tomorrow.” Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is at 7:05 tonight.




Jonathan Bombulie, Times-Shamrock Newspapers

It’s easy to paint goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin as the villain as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins take on his Portland Pirates in the AHL’s Eastern Conference final. After all, not only is Aubin the man standing between the home team and a trip to the Calder Cup finals, he was also involved in an oft-rehashed media controversy while he played for the Penguins in 1999. The problem is, Aubin doesn’t play the part of villain very well. Soft spoken and friendly, he was smiling, not scowling, as he walked the halls of the Wachovia Arena after the morning skate Wednesday. He remembers being booed for a little while after negative comments about Wilkes-Barre were attributed to him in a Pittsburgh newspaper in 1999, but he also recalls Penguins fans warming up to him later in his stay with the club.




Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun

As dawn broke yesterday in suburban Chicago, John Anderson’s call display began lighting up with phone numbers from the 416 area code. “All of my relatives have been phoning,” the Toronto-born coach of the Chicago Wolves said with a laugh. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure on me in this series, but it’ll be exciting.” Anderson, a former Leaf, moved to the United States 20 years ago, but has family in the Scarborough and North York area, while the local hamburger chain that bears his name is still flourishing. But after fleeting one-game visits here with the Wolves in the past 10 years, this will be a chance to renew old acquaintances. Anderson played with the powerful Marlies junior team in the 1970s and the Leafs up to 1984-85.




Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star

On the surface, it would appear that AHL Western Conference final foes Toronto and Chicago are closer to exhaustion rather than being in the peak form necessary for a post-season war that will take the winner to the Calder Cup championship series. The Marlies beat the Syracuse Crunch on Monday to finish off their second seven-game series in a row, giving them a league-leading 14 playoff games in the bank. The Wolves are one game shy of that, with 13, and just finished a seven-game series against Rockford. But the Marlies say they’re feeling just fine as they get ready to face Chicago in Game 1 tomorrow night. “We’ve played more games than the other teams and we’ve faced our share of adversity, being down 3-1 to Syracuse and coming back,” Marlies goalie Scott Clemmensen said.




Mark Masters, National Post

As the Toronto Maple Leafs farm team continues its march through the American Hockey League playoffs, the organization’s goalie of the future continues to sit. One question that has persisted during the Toronto Marlies spirited run has been why goalie Justin Pogge, 22, has not started ahead of Scott Clemmensen. While Clemmensen has played well, many expected Pogge to be the Marlies’ starting goalie and to gain some valuable playoff experience this spring. It is the mental aspect of Pogge’s game that the goalie says is holding him back right now. “That’s a part of my game that just needs a little more maturing, just playing a little more compact and not doing as much. I just need to use my size a bit more,” Pogge said after practicing with his teammates at the Ricoh Coliseum yesterday morning.




Tim Sassone, Daily Herald

There’s a reason why Chicago Wolves center Jason Krog was the American Hockey League’s most valuable player. When the Wolves needed him most, trailing in their Calder Cup West Division final series against Rockford 3-2, Krog was there coming up big. He scored 2 power-play goals in Game 6 to help rally the Wolves to victory and got another Tuesday in Game 7 at Allstate Arena when the Wolves disposed of the IceHogs 4-1. Krog’s 39 goals and 112 points during the regular season earned him the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s MVP, certainly a nice honor, but it’s the Calder Cup that Krog is after. “That’s what you play for, to win championships,” Krog said.




Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star

Rockford IceHogs coach Mike Haviland wrapped up the 2007-08 season Wednesday with player interviews. Team President Ryan Washatka already was eyeing 2008-09. “We’re not even 24 hours from the bittersweet ending, and we’re working on plans for next year,” Washatka said from his MetroCentre office, referring to Tuesday’s 4-1 loss in Game 7 to the Chicago Wolves. It was Rockford’s first season at the Triple-A level, and nearly all the numbers and feedback indicate a thumbs-up debut.




Chris Bradford, Beaver County Times

So, it may have been just a pre-game skate in front of a half-filled arena. And it’s not going to show up in the official playoff stats, but Hopewell Township native Nate Guenin had to admit it was quite a thrill to pull on an NHL jersey for a playoff game – even if it was just to help warm up the Philadelphia Flyers players who would be seeing action Tuesday night against the Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Guenin, a defenseman for the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms, was called back up to the Flyers for the playoffs on Saturday. He enjoyed his best season in the AHL this year with 17 points and 143 penalty minutes in 77 games.



83.3 – Percentage of teams (20 of 24) that have won their conference final series after winning Game 1, since 1996… The last club to drop Game 1 and still advance to the Calder Cup Finals was Chicago (vs. Houston) in 2002.


Sami Lepisto, who had 45 points in 55 AHL games with Hershey this season, scored 3:59 into overtime to five Finland a 3-2 win over the United States in quarterfinal action at the IIHF World Championships in Halifax… 2007 AHL All-Star Drew Stafford forced the extra session with a late goal for the United States.

Loui Eriksson, who led Iowa with 31 goals as an AHL rookie in 2005-06, scored last night as Dallas kept its season alive with a 3-1 win over Detroit in Game 4 of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals.


May 15, 2003Raffi Torres and Jason Ward score as Hamilton beats Binghamton, 2-1, in Game 2 of their conference final series at Copps Coliseum.


May 15, 1992Mike Sillinger tallies a goal and two assists as Adirondack advances to the Calder Cup Finals with a 5-3 win in Rochester.


May 15, 1973 – Before 15,019 fans at the Aud in Buffalo, the Cincinnati Swords win the Calder Cup with a 5-1 win over Nova Scotia.


May 15, 1972Nova Scotia concludes a dominating postseason with a 4-1 win over Baltimore, claiming its first Calder Cup championship; the Voyageurs outscored their oponents 64-19 in their 15 playoff games (12-3).


B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts of every AHL game… Visit theahl.com for details.The Portland Pirates don’t have to wait long to put last night’s loss behind them: They can even up the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in Game 2 tonight (7:05 ET) in Wilkes-Barre, where the Penguins are 6-1 this postseason. The road to the Calder Cup marches on, and if you can’t make it to the rink, you can watch the action with B2 Networks’ live video webcast.