AHL Morning Skate: Pivotal Game 5 in Houston

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.


Manitoba 5, TORONTO 1 (Series tied, 2-2)
Milwaukee 4, ROCKFORD 1 (MIL wins series, 4-0)

1. Mike Santorelli registered a hat trick and an assist as Milwaukee completed a four-game opening-round sweep with a 4-1 victory at Rockford.

2. Jed Ortmeyer notched a goal and assisted on all three of Santorelli’s markers to finish with a four-point night.

3. Defenseman Maxime Fortunus netted a goal and added an assist in Manitoba’s 5-1 win at Toronto.

Game 4 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35 (HFD leads series, 2-1)
Game 4 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00 (GR leads series, 2-1)
Game 4 – W-B/Scranton at Bridgeport, 7:00 (WBS leads series, 2-1)
Game 3 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00 (HER leads series, 2-0)
Game 5 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05 (Series tied, 2-2)

CC09ad_300x250.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Hartford Wolf Pack vs. A4-Worcester Sharks || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – HARTFORD 2, Worcester 0
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – HARTFORD 5, Worcester 3
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 20 – WORCESTER 3, Hartford 2 (2OT)
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Hartford at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Worcester at Hartford, 7:00

Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – Portland 3, PROVIDENCE 0
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – PROVIDENCE 2, Portland 1
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Providence 5, PORTLAND 1
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Providence at Portland, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Portland at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Providence at Portland, 4:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Portland at Providence, 7:05

East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E4-Philadelphia Phantoms ||
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – Hershey 4, PHILADELPHIA 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Hershey 6, PHILADELPHIA 2
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Hershey at Philadelphia, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00

East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins ||
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 17 – W-B/Scranton 3, BRIDGEPORT 2
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – W-B/Scranton 5, BRIDGEPORT 4 (OT)
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Bridgeport 5, W-B/SCRANTON 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – W-B/Scranton at Bridgeport, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 26 – W-B/Scranton at Bridgeport, 4:00

North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N4-Toronto Marlies ||
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – Toronto 3, MANITOBA 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – MANITOBA 4, Toronto 2
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – TORONTO 2, Manitoba 1
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 21 – Manitoba 5, TORONTO 1
Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 23 – Manitoba at Toronto, 7:00
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 28 – Toronto at Manitoba, 8:30

North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins ||
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 17 – Grand Rapids 4, HAMILTON 3
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – Grand Rapids 3, HAMILTON 1
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 20 – Hamilton 5, GRAND RAPIDS 4
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 6:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Grand Rapids at Hamilton, 7:30

West Division Semifinal – Series “G” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W4-Rockford IceHogs ||
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 16 – MILWAUKEE 3, Rockford 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 18 – MILWAUKEE 3, Rockford 1
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 19 – Milwaukee 3, ROCKFORD 1
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 21 – Milwaukee 4, ROCKFORD 1

West Division Semifinal – Series “H” (best-of-7)
W2-Peoria Rivermen vs. W3-Houston Aeros ||
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 15 – PEORIA 6, Houston 4
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 17 – Houston 2, PEORIA 0
Game 3 – Sat., Apr. 18 – HOUSTON 2, Peoria 1
Game 4 – Mon., Apr. 20 – Peoria 4, HOUSTON 3
Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Houston at Peoria, 8:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Houston at Peoria, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35
After capturing a double-overtime victory on Monday, Worcester looks to even its Atlantic Division semifinal at two games apiece when it welcomes Hartford back to the DCU Center tonight… Sharks captain Ryan Vesce, who led the AHL with four overtime tallies during the regular season, lit the lamp at 1:07 of the second extra session in Game 3 to give Worcester its first postseason overtime win in team history (1-2)… Vesce, who also potted the tying score back in the second period, had not picked up a goal in 10 previous games against the Wolf Pack this season… Tom Cavanagh added his first marker of the playoffs for Worcester… The Sharks have pelted Hartford goaltender Matt Zaba with 131 shots through the first three games, a league-leading average of 43.67 per contest… Defenseman Corey Potter and rookie forward Dale Weise notched goals for the Wolf Pack in the Game 3 loss… Top sniper Artem Anisimov (2-0-2) was held without a goal for the first time in the series… Hartford has killed off 24 of Worcester’s 25 power-play chances (96.0 percent) during the series.

Game 4 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
With its North Division semifinal series lead cut to 2-1, Grand Rapids tangles with Hamilton in Game 4 tonight at Van Andel Arena… The Bulldogs eked out a 5-4 win on Monday, the third consecutive victory for the road team to begin this series… Ryan White, Ryan Russell and Yanick Lehoux each posted a goal and an assist in the Game 3 win for Hamilton, while Kyle Chipchura and rookie Ben Maxwell also scored… Hamilton goaltender Marc Denis made 27 saves, including 12 in the third period when his team was outshot by a 14-5 margin… Grand Rapids teammates Justin Abdelkader (4-2-6), Ville Leino (2-4-6) and Darren Haydar (2-4-6) are all tied for the AHL postseason scoring lead with six points apiece… All six of Abdelkader’s points have come in the third period, including a goal in the losing effort on Monday… Haydar posted three assists in Game 3 and is now the AHL’s all-time playoff leader with 74 career helpers… Hamilton has won three consecutive visits to Van Andel Arena since a 6-4 loss on Oct. 25.

Game 4 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Bridgeport, 7:00
Bridgeport’s Arena at Harbor Yard hosts its first Calder Cup Playoff game since Apr. 28, 2006, tonight when the Sound Tigers battle Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 4 of their East Division semifinal… Bridgeport dropped a pair of games on Long Island to open the series before rallying from a 4-1 second-period deficit to capture a 5-4 overtime decision in Game 4 in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday… Former Stanley Cup and Calder Cup champion Jon Sim registered three points (2-1-3) for Bridgeport in that contest, and Sean Bentivoglio scored the winner 9:48 into the extra session… Rookie goaltender Peter Mannino made 32 saves to pick up the win in his AHL playoff debut… The Penguins netted all four of their goals in the second period; Jean-Michel Daoust had a hand in all four (2-2-4) to set a team playoff record for points in a period… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is 6-for-12 on the power play in the series… The Penguins and Sound Tigers have played 11 consecutive one-goal games in the playoffs… Bridgeport has lost seven straight postseason home games – all to the Pens – since a 5-4 OT win over Wilkes-Barre on Apr. 17, 2004.

Game 3 – Philadelphia at Hershey, 7:00
After a three-day layoff, arch-rivals Philadelphia and Hershey collide for Game 3 of their East Division semifinal tonight at Giant Center… The division-champion Bears took a pair of wins in Philadelphia to begin the series and will play four of the last five games, if needed, on home ice… Hershey stormed back from an early 2-0 deficit to score six unanswered goals and earn a 6-2 win over the Phantoms in Game 2 on Saturday… Ten different Bears have found the back of the net so far in the series, including regular-season AHL goal-scoring champion Alexandre Giroux, who had a goal and an assist in Game 2… Rookies Oskar Osala (1-2-3) and Mathieu Perreault (1-2-3) each has a team-high three points, as does Chris Bourque (0-3-3)… Hershey has gone 4-for-12 (33.3%) on the power play through the first two contests… Jonathan Matsumoto (1-2-3) and Patrick Maroon (1-2-3) each shows three points for the Phantoms, who have lost six consecutive postseason games since a 5-2 triumph to open last year’s division finals vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Philadelphia has been held scoreless on 12 power-play chances in the series.

Game 5 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
Tied at two wins apiece, Peoria and Houston clash at Toyota Center tonight for a pivotal Game 5 in their West Division semifinal… In AHL history, the Game 5 winner of a deadlocked best-of-seven series has gone on to win the series 81 of 103 times (78.6 percent)… The Rivermen rallied from a 2-1 deficit late in the second period of Game 4 on Monday to record a 4-3 victory… Defenseman Steve Wagner registered a goal and an assist for his first career playoff points, and veteran Trent Whitfield tallied the game-winner in the third period… Peoria defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, drafted fourth overall by St. Louis in 2008, shows three assists in the Rivermen’s two victories and has gone scoreless in the two defeats… The Aeros, who held the AHL’s third-ranked power play (20.0 percent) during the regular season, have scored six of their 11 goals in this series with the man-advantage… Regular-season scoring leader Corey Locke is pacing Houston in the postseason with five points (3-2-5)… Tony Hrkac (1-3-4), Krys Kolanos (1-3-4) and rookie Matt Beaudoin (0-4-4) have each tallied four points thus far for Houston.


Dave Eminian, Peoria Journal Star
The Peoria Rivermen and Houston Aeros essentially begin a second playoff series Wednesday. And this one is a best-of-3. “We knew they were going to win some games, and they knew we were going to win some games,” Rivermen captain Trent Whitfield said Tuesday. And so pivotal Game 5 of this best-of-7 series has arrived. Will the Rivermen have key winger Yan Stastny back from the Blues in time? Will the Aeros get ill star Krys Kolanos back in their lineup? Does Houston give Anton Khudobin another chance in goal, or was his departure in the third period of Game 4 his farewell? Can Peoria veteran Manny Legace continue to dominate in the net?

Garry McKay, Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton Bulldogs coach Ron Wilson juggled his lines Monday night against the Grand Rapids Griffins. He should also have bought lottery tickets. Wilson replaced J.T. Wyman with Ryan White on right wing on a line with Kyle Chipchura and Ryan Russell. Chipchura’s line had been tasked with shutting down the Griffins’ big unit of Darren Haydar, Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino. In the first two games of the best-of-seven AHL North Division semifinal, both won by Grand Rapids, the Griffins trio got the best of it. On Monday, Chipchura, White, and Russell each scored to lead the Dogs to a 5-4 victory at Van Andel Arena.

Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizens’ Voice
Statistically speaking, there’s a better than 50-50 chance that Game 4 of the East Division semifinals tonight will go to overtime. After all, 10 of the previous 17 playoff meetings between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Bridgeport Sound Tigers haven’t been decided in regulation play. The Penguins, then, are awfully glad they have Chris Minard on their side. When he scored to end Game 2 on Saturday, Minard tied an AHL record for most career sudden-death goals in the playoffs with three.

Michael Fornabaio, Connecticut Post
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ early season penalty kill began with good goaltending, supported by their solid defense corps and four regular forwards: Jeremy Colliton, Kurtis McLean, Tyler Haskins and Jason Pitton. Since the last week of March, that quartet has been reduced to one, Haskins, and he’s not all that thrilled with what he’s done in that time. In three playoff games, the Penguins are 6-for-12 on their power play; they went 3-for-4 in the second period alone Sunday. Sound Tigers opponents went 10-for-42 on the power play in the last six games of the regular season, a small sample size but still a percentage (76.2) that would have ranked last in the league.

Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
With a few thunderous hits along the boards, Aaron Boogaard made head coach Todd Reirden’s decision a bit tougher. With Connor James ready to return from his injury and Tim Wallace’s one-game suspension now history, Reirden will have to juggle his lineup to get them into today’s Game 4 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Boogaard helped fill in the vacancies during Game 3 with the notion that when the regulars came back, he would sit. But Boogaard, who served as the team’s enforcer for the regular season, made the most of his opportunity.

Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
It might be a little early in the playoffs for a statement game, but the Manitoba Moose took a strong stand Tuesday night in Game 4 of their AHL North Division semifinal series against the Toronto Marlies. The Moose finally geared up some offence and performed like a team that was first overall during the regular season, trouncing the Marlies 5-1 before 2,258 at Ricoh Coliseum. It was also a statement of another kind: that the Marlies have a very, very solid game plan of aggressive, hard-hitting hockey that simply suffered from too much stimulus on Tuesday. Match the two, and it was a three-for-six night for the Moose on the power play and the first decisive victory of the series.


Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star
In replay mode, the Rockford IceHogs, again, were outmanned and outplayed by the Milwaukee Admirals. Now, the ’Hogs are just plain out of luck and out of the AHL playoffs. After losing 3-1 in each of the first three games, Rockford trailed 3-1 in Game 4 until Milwaukee tacked on a late score to win 4-1 and sweep the series 4-0. “It’s a tough time,” Rockford coach Bill Peters said when asked afterward what he told his players. “You know it’s a possibility it could end today, but you don’t think it’s going to happen. So when it does happen, it’s a shock.”

Ira Podell, Associated Press
Simeon Varlamov is a man of few words — especially the English kind. The surprise top goalie for the awakening Washington Capitals is a virtual unknown to not only the NHL, but to his coach, his teammates, and anyone else who doesn’t speak Russian. “Seven games. That’s how well I know him,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said Tuesday of the 20-year-old rookie with limited experience. “He is a really quiet young man. “I don’t know if he is mature beyond his years because my level of communication with him is patting him on the butt or saying, ‘Go get ’em.’”

Lindsay Kramer, NHL.com
Regardless of where the brilliant potential of James van Riemsdyk takes him, he’ll always have the pain of remembering how he started his pro career on the wrong foot. Specifically, the left one. That was the foot he had to cram into a right shoe before heading to his first game with the Philadelphia Phantoms. After agreeing to a deal with the Flyers in late March, he was so harried and excited that when he packed his stuff to leave the University of New Hampshire, he tossed two black right dress shoes into his bag. Considering van Riemsdyk’s recent history of poise under pressure, it’s unlikely he’ll be making too many more similar missteps.

1999 AHL All-Star Dan Boyle tallied two goals and an assist as San Jose cut its Western Conference quarterfinals series deficit in half with a 4-3 win at Anaheim on Tuesday night; 2007-08 AHL All-Rookie forward Bobby Ryan scored in the loss for the Ducks… Alexandre Burrows, who has 16 points in 27 career AHL playoff games, netted the overtime game-winner for his second goal of the night as Vancouver captured a 3-2 win to complete a four-game sweep of St. Louis… Daniel Carcillo notched his first career NHL playoff goal, but Philadelphia dropped a 3-1 decision Pittsburgh and fell into a 3-1 series hole.

4 – Total number of goals allowed by Milwaukee in its first-round sweep of Rockford, just one more than the AHL record for a four-game series… The last team to allow four goals in four games was Philadelphia in the 2005 Calder Cup Finals vs. Chicago.

33.3 – Hershey’s shooting percentage in the third period this postseason… The Bears have scored seven goals on 21 shots in the final frame of their first two games vs. Philadelphia.

April 22, 2007Corey Locke records a hat trick and