AHL Morning Skate: Penguins hoping to pull even

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.


HERSHEY 5, W-B/Scranton 3 (HER leads series, 1-0)
MILWAUKEE 4, Houston 1 (Series tied, 1-1)
MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1 (MTB leads series, 2-0)

1. Ryan Jones scored a pair of goals as Milwaukee evened the West Division Finals with a 4-1 victory over Houston.

2. Cory Schneider backstopped Manitoba to a 2-0 series lead over Grand Rapids by making 28 saves on 29 shots in a 2-1 Game 2 win.

3. Andrew Gordon posted a goal and an assist to help Hershey past Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 1 of the East Division Finals, 5-3.

Game 2 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00 (HER leads series, 1-0)

CC09rd2_160x600.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Worcester Sharks
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Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 28 – PROVIDENCE 3, Worcester 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Wed., May 6 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
Game 3 – Fri., May 8 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 11 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 13 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Thu., May 14 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins
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Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – HERSHEY 5, W-B/Scranton 3
Game 2 – Sun., May 3 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 6 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Fri., May 8 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins
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Game 1 – Fri., May 1 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 3 – Mon., May 4 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 6 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 8 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30

West Division Finals – Series
“L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MILWAUKEE 4, Houston 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 2 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00 (HER leads series, 1-0)
Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton don’t have much time to dwell on their East Division Finals opener, as Game 2 of the series is set to face off this afternoon at Giant Center… The Bears received goals from five different players en route to a 5-3 triumph in Game 1 last night, their fifth consecutive win to open the postseason… Chris Bourque posted a goal and an assist and now has a point in all five playoff games (1-6-7) for Hershey… Andrew Gordon and Kyle Wilson also registered a goal and a helper in Game 1, while defenseman Staffan Kronwall and AHL MVP Alexandre Giroux both scored… Giroux (3-4-7) and Bourque are pacing the Bears with seven points in the playoffs thus far, and Kronwall has a goal in his last three games played… Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 35 saves in net and now has 10 wins in his last 11 decisions going back to the regular season… Hershey converted two of three power plays and has been successful 30 percent of the time (9-for-30) in the postseason, second only to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 40.7 percent (11-for-27)… The Bears’ run of 25 straight successful penalty kills to start the postseason ended with the first of Nick Johnson’s two power-play goals last night… Dustin Jeffrey assisting on both Johnson goals and Jean-Michel Daoust extended his scoring streak to five games (4-4-8) with Wilkes-Barre’s other marker… Chris Minard picked up an assist and now has a point in all six playoff games (5-3-8), but he was held without a goal for the first time… Hershey has won 10 consecutive series in which they won Game 1, dating back to a 1999 defeat to Kentucky… The Penguins are a solid 6-6 lifetime in postseason series when they drop the opener, but 0-2 against the Bears… Hershey is 7-1 at Giant Center in the playoffs against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
They’re no longer perfect on the penalty kill in the playoffs, but the Hershey Bears still have a perfect record. Though they surrendered two power-play goals to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Saturday night at Giant Center, the Bears matched that with two of their own in a 5-3 Game 1 victory. Balanced scoring and answer-back goals gave Hershey a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven East Division finals. In the four previous series between the clubs, the team that won Game 1 won the series. “I think we kept at it and kept answering them whenever they scored,” Chris Bourque said. “That’s a good sign. It was tough coming off that layoff, but I thought we played pretty well.”

Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
Their penalty kill is no longer perfect but last night, the power play nearly was, and that made all the difference in the world as the Hershey Bears skated to a 5-3 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Giant Center. The game was the series opener in the best-of-seven East Division final. The two teams play again tonight before the series heads to Wilkes-Barre for Game 3 on Wednesday. “We weathered a storm a little bit,” said Hershey’s Andrew Gordon, who scored a power-play goal with just 16.3 seconds left in the second period to break a 2-2 tie. “They were coming at us hard. Once we did that, I thought we played well.”

Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Just when it appeared as if the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were ready to get back on track, a seemingly harmless shot from the point sealed their fate. It looked as if the Penguins would close out the period tied 2-2 until Bears defenseman Bryan Helmer lofted a shot from the point with 16.3 seconds left. The shot deflected off several bodies and sticks in front and past goalie John Curry for a 3-2 lead. The goal took away the Penguins momentum to end the second period and allowed Hershey to go on to a 5-3 win in Game 1 of the AHL East Division Finals.

Jonathan Bombulie, Citizens’ Voice

When Nick Johnson converted a pass from Luca Caputi with about three minutes left in the second period of Game 1 of the East Division finals Saturday night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins had scaled a big mountain. With 16.3 seconds left in the period, Bryan Helmer and Andrew Gordon kicked them back down the hill again. Gordon’s tip-in of a Helmer power-play point shot gave the Hershey Bears a lead they never relinquished in a 5-3 victory over the Penguins at the Giant Center. The teams will play Game 2 tonight at the same venue.

Dave Boehler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Ryan Jones scored two goals and goaltender Drew MacIntyre returned to near-perfect form as the Milwaukee Admirals defeated the Houston Aeros, 4-1, Saturday night at the Bradley Center. Jones’ first goal was the winner, as Milwaukee took a 2-1 lead when the left wing scored on a power play with 3:35 left in the second period. MacIntyre allowed just one goal for the fifth time in six playoff games, and he finished with 18 saves after suffering a 2-1 loss Thursday night. The best-of-seven American Hockey League West Division finals series is tied, 1-1, with the next three games in Houston beginning Tuesday night.

Don Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Harris Turer, owner of the Milwaukee Admirals, says he doesn’t think the hockey team has ever made money. But economic challenges aside, the Admirals have found a way to market themselves in a family-friendly and entertaining way. “I think we’ve done a really good job of giving people a lot for their money,” Turer said. “We are proud of the fact that our staff has worked exceptionally hard so that when people leave an Admirals game, they can say, ‘That was a great experience.’” Turer and Jon Greenberg, the team’s president, readily concede that there isn’t enough of a market based on hockey interest alone to pay the bills. So the Admirals have to look beyond the rabid hockey fan who is interested only in a good night of checking, skating and scoring.

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
Cory Schneider lost his mask, but didn’t lose his cool. At the end of the night, the Manitoba Moose goalie had stopped nearly everything that came his way in leading the home side to a 2-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins last night before a crowd of 8,444 at the MTS Centre last night. The Moose lead the best-of-7 series 2-0, with Game 3 set for tomorrow night at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Randy Turner, Winnipeg Free Press
At times, these days, watching the Manitoba Moose is kinda like witnessing metamorphosis at work. Call it biology on ice. Indeed, if Darwin had been a puckhead, he’d have those hand-drawn examples of evolution in a book called The Origin of an NHL Player. And at no time is this natural selection more prevalent than the ongoing post-season, the professional game’s version of the Galapagos Islands. You see, in watching the Canucks’ and Manitoba’s post-seasons unfold, you can actually see the threads of evolution running between the two organizations.

Garry Brown, Springfield Republican
At hockey playoff time, you can usually figure a first-place team to skate away with the championship cup, but every so often, along comes a surprise. Hartford had what it took to nail first place in a hectic Atlantic Division race, but after winning Games 1-2 of its first-round playoff series with Worcester, lost four in a row. See you later. Hockey history tells us that first-place teams generally do get what they deserve – a championship. And what of those surprises? Well, you won’t find a team in either league more surprising than the Springfield Kings of 1970-71.

2006 Calder Cup champions David Steckel and Tomas Fleischmann each scored a goal and Simeon Varlamov made 34 saves as Washington took a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh to open their Eastern Conference semifinal yesterday… 2005 Calder Cup champion Patrick Sharp netted a pair of goals as Chicago stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 6-3 win over Vancouver, evening their Western Conference semifinal at one game apiece.

2006 Calder Cup champion Jakub Klepis posted three assists as the Czech Republic beat Slovakia, 8-0, yesterday at the IIHF World Championships in Switzerland.

100 – Career Calder Cup Playoff games played by Hershey captain Bryan Helmer, who last night became the 13th player ever to reach that milestone… Grand Rapids’ Darren Haydar hit the 100-game mark last round.

39-10 – Record this postseason for the team that scores the game’s first goal (.796), including 4-0 marks by both Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… The team which draws first blood has won five of the six games played so far in the division finals round.

May 3, 2008 – Facing an 0-2 series deficit in the East Division Finals, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rallies from three goals down in the third period and defeats Philadelphia, 5-4, on Chris Minard’s goal 2:07 into overtime.

May 3, 2003Ray Emery makes 26 saves as Binghamton shuts out Bridgeport, 3-0, to take a 3-2 lead in their conference semifinal series.

May 3, 2002 – In the final game ever played at Hersheypark Arena, Jamie McLennan stops 32 shots as Houston posts a series-clinching 7-1 win over Hershey.

May 3, 1997 – In a game that features 11 goals, five goaltenders and a league-record 350 penalty minutes, Philadelphia defeats Hershey, 7-4, in Game 2 of the Mid-Atlantic Division final.

May 3, 1978 – The Maine Mariners advance to the Calder Cup Finals in their first season with a 2-1 win over two-time defending champion Nova Scotia in a Game 7 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2009 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live continues to bring AHL action to your computer all postseason 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.