AHL Morning Skate: Three games set for tonight

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.


Providence 5, PORTLAND 1 (PRO leads series, 2-1)
Bridgeport 5, W-B/SCRANTON 4 (OT) (WBS leads series, 2-1)
TORONTO 2, Manitoba 1 (TOR leads series, 2-1)
Milwaukee 3, ROCKFORD 1 (MIL leads series, 3-0)

1. Jon Sim scored twice and added an assist as Bridgeport rallied from a 4-1 deficit to drop Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in overtime, 5-4, in Game 3 of their East Division semifinal.

2. Vladimir Sobotka registered a game-high four points (1-3-4) in Providence’s 5-1 win at Portland, helping the Bruins to a 2-1 series lead.

3. Tim Stapleton broke a 1-1 tie in the third period and sent Toronto to a 2-1 win over Manitoba in Game 3 at Ricoh Coliseum.

Game 3 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35 (HFD leads series, 2-0)
Game 3 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00 (GR leads series, 2-0)
Game 4 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05 (HOU leads series, 2-1)

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 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35
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 at Toronto, 7:00
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 at Grand Rapids, 7:00
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 at Rockford, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 26 – Milwaukee at Rockford, 6:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 27 – Rockford at Milwaukee, 8:00

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 at Houston, 8:05
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 3 – Hartford at Worcester, 6:35

Worcester looks to get back in its Atlantic Division semifinal against Hartford tonight as the scene shifts to the DCU Center with the Wolf Pack holding a 2-0 series lead… Hartford rookie goaltender Matt Zaba has stopped 82 of 85 shots (.965) through the first two contests, which were 2-0 and 5-3 victories for the Wolf Pack on home ice… Hartford killed off 12 of 13 Worcester power plays during the Game 2 win on Saturday… Artem Anisimov has notched a goal in both games (2-0-2) for the Wolf Pack, and Jordan Owens leads all scorers with three points (1-2-3) in the series… The Sharks have been outscored 7-3 in the series despite holding an 85-42 advantage in shots on goal… Worcester defenseman Brendan Buckley scored his first career Calder Cup Playoff goal in his 55th contest on Saturday, and the Sharks also got goals from rookie Andrew Desjardins and Riley Armstrong… All three tallies came in a 4:49 span during the second period… The Sharks are trying to avoid their second 3-0 deficit in as many postseason series; Worcester lost the first three to Manchester in 2007 before bowing out in six games… The Wolf Pack have won five straight playoff games at the DCU Center, a streak that began on May 12, 1998.

Game 3 – Hamilton at Grand Rapids, 7:00
After taking a pair of victories on the road, Grand Rapids hosts Hamilton at Van Andel Arena tonight holding a 2-0 lead in their North Division semifinal… The Griffins are up 2-0 in a series for the first time since the conference semifinals vs. Chicago in 2003, a series they went on to sweep… All of AHL All-Rookie forward Justin Abdelkader’s series-leading five points (3-2-5) have come in the third period, including his two goals and an assist in the Griffins’ 3-1 comeback win in Game 2… Darren Haydar’s two assists on Saturday give him 71 for his AHL playoff career, tying Willie Marshall’s record… With a goal and an assist, rookie David Desharnais is the only Hamilton skater with more than one point thus far… Grand Rapids’ third-ranked penalty kill during the regular season (85.7 percent) has gone 7-for-7 through the first two contests… Six teams in AHL history have rebounded to win a Calder Cup Playoff series after losing the first two games at home, most recently Toronto in last year’s division finals vs. Syracuse.

Game 4 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
Houston goes for a commanding 3-1 lead in its West Division semifinal when it welcomes Peoria for Game 4 tonight… The Aeros snapped a five-game home playoff losing skid with a 2-1 triumph over the Rivermen in Game 3 on Saturday; Houston is 3-10 all-time in playoff games at Toyota Center, but 3-0 there vs. Peoria… Corey Locke scored both Aeros goals in Saturday’s victory, including the game-winner on the power play with 9:58 to play in regulation… Krys Kolanos assisted on both tallies, and his four points (1-3-4) are tied with Locke (3-1-4) for the team lead in the series… Aeros goaltender Anton Khudobin has stopped 52 of 53 shots (.981) over his last two contests since surrendering six goals in Houston’s 6-4 loss in Game 1… Houston has converted four of eight power-play chances in the series… The team that scored the first goal has won all three games of the series… Chris Porter netted his first AHL playoff goal for the Rivermen in Saturday’s loss… Peoria could be without leading playoff scorer Yan Stastny (2-2-4), who was recalled by St. Louis yesterday.


Dave Eminian, Peoria Journal Star
The Peoria Rivermen scored six goals in Game 1 of their West Division semifinal series against the Houston Aeros. They’ve lost two games since then where three goals in each game would have given them a 3-0 series lead. So the Rivermen sat in their locker room late Saturday, eating some post-game pizza and trying to digest how they came to trail the best-of-7 series, 2-1. In Game 2, they lost 2-0 despite Houston’s lethal power-play unit getting zero advantages. Game 3 was lost even though Houston’s travel was delayed six hours because of storms in the area, leaving the Aeros team tired and out of its routine. “It’s a huge opportunity squandered,” said Yan Stastny. “It’s tough to win four out of seven games against anyone, and now we’re going to have to win three of the last four.”

Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
The Aeros lost forward Peter Olvecky during the regular season when the Minnesota Wild needed a center for what turned out to be an unsuccessful drive to the playoffs. When the Wild’s season ended, Minnesota assigned Olvecky back to the Aeros, and the Slovakian forward is a big reason the Aeros have a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven series against Peoria that continues tonight at Toyota Center. Olvecky scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 and had a solid game Saturday night in the Aeros’ 2-1 win. As it turns out, however, it was Olvecky’s last AHL game of the year. Last week, Aeros coach Kevin Constantine found out that Olvecky had been invited to play for Slovakia in the upcoming world championships.

Michael Fornabaio, Connecticut Post
Just like his Bridgeport Sound Tigers team Sunday, Ben Walter got decked, got up, then went to the net. Drawing defenders to the front of John Curry‘s net, Walter helped set up Joe Callahan’s tying goal. Sean Bentivoglio won it 9:48 into overtime, and the Sound Tigers won 5-4 at Wachovia Arena to keep afloat in the East Division semifinals. The Penguins scored four goals in the second period, three on the power play, to build a 4-1 lead. After a 5-4 win in overtime Saturday in Game 2, coming from two goals down to tie it late in the third, they appeared set to grab a 3-0 stranglehold on the series. “We had a TV timeout after they scored the fourth goal,” Walter said. “We said, there’s seven or eight minutes left in the second. We said we’ve done it before. They did it to us.”

Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizens’ Voice
When Sean Bentivoglio’s shot sailed over his shoulder and caught the top corner of the net Sunday night, John Curry knew immediately that the playoff road just got a lot tougher for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. If they’re not careful, the goalie said, the road could get tougher still. Bentivoglio’s goal 9:48 into overtime gave the Bridgeport Sound Tigers a 5-4 win in Game 3 of the East Division semifinals. Down 4-2 heading into the third period and staring at a practically insurmountable 3-0 deficit in the series, the Sound Tigers pinned their ears back in the third.

Daniel Girard, Toronto Star
Justin Pogge is out to show he still belongs in the Maple Leafs’ future plans. So far, so good. The Toronto Marlies goaltender, who struggled in his call-ups to the big club this season, turned in another solid effort yesterday as the Leafs’ American Hockey League farm team beat the Manitoba Moose 2-1 in Game 3 of their North Division semifinal. “After my last games up with the Leafs, I’d like to prove a point that I’m not done,” Pogge said after a 30-save performance at Ricoh Coliseum earned him first star honors. “I’m still here. I can play. I just need some confidence. That’s all.”

Paul Betit, Portland Press Herald
After gaining home-ice advantage in their American Hockey League playoff series against the Providence Bruins during a three-day trip to Rhode Island, the Portland Pirates handed it back the first time they stepped on home ice. The Bruins dominated almost from start to finish Sunday for a 5-1 victory, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. “We go to Providence and get a split to earn home ice, and to have that kind of effort is embarrassing,” said Derek Whitmore, who scored a third-period goal for the Pirates. “I wish we could go right out tomorrow night and try to redeem ourselves, but we can’t. But we’re professional athletes, and we have to prepare and get ready for Thursday night.”

Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star
The Rockford IceHogs changed venues, goalies, its lineup and lines for Sunday’s Game 3 against the Milwaukee Admirals. The net result was no change at all. Milwaukee notched its third straight 3-1 victory in the AHL best-of-seven, first-round playoff series, with Rockford again never leading. Something has to change in Game 4 at 7:05 Tuesday night at the MetroCentre, where 2,946 fans were in attendance Sunday. Only twice in the AHL’s 72-year history has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit, the most recent being 1989. “Obviously, it’s a four-game series. We’ve got to win four,” said center Tyler Mosienko, who directed Rockford’s only puck past goalie Drew MacIntyre on a late power play.

Sam Donnellon, Philadelphia Daily News
It’s an unlikely story, a college hockey team down there, a team that now draws players from as far away as Saskatchewan, players like Phantoms goalie Scott Munroe. It’s even more unlikely that a kid who grew up there would score an NHL playoff goal. Jared Ross has spent almost all of his four professional seasons riding buses in the AHL. At age 26, after two prolific seasons as the Phantoms’ top scorer, he dressed for 10 games with the Flyers this season and recorded no points. “People kept saying, it’s going to be pretty tough to play, coming from Alabama,” he said. “But I’ve never given up. I’ve been working hard my whole life to get here. My dad’s always told me to never give up on your dreams and I never have.”

Aside from Jared Ross’s first NHL goal, Philadelphia got the first career playoff goal from Claude Giroux and goals from 2005 Calder Cup champions Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh yesterday… Bobby Ryan, Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller – all of whom reached Game 7 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals with Portland in 2008 – scored their first career NHL playoff goals as Anaheim took a 3-2 win over top-seeded San Jose… Ryan Bayda, who has 10 goals in 32 career Calder Cup Playoff games, scored his first-ever NHL playoff goal in Carolina’s 3-2 overtime loss to New Jersey.

10-3, 1.53, .947 – Record, goals-against average and save percentage of Milwaukee goaltender Drew MacIntyre in 13 career first-round Calder Cup Playoff games.

100.0 – Penalty-killing efficiency by the Hershey Bears (12-for-12) through the first two games of their series with Philadelphia… The Bears ranked last in the league in the regular season at 78.6 percent.

April 20, 2002Marty Wilford’s goal at 9:29 of the second overtime gives Hartford a 3-2 win in its winner-take-all Game 5 vs. Manchester.

April 20, 2000 – Chris Kenady scores four goals and assists on two others as Hartford posts a 7-2 win over Springfield in another winner-take-all Game 5.

April 20, 1994 – Yanic Perreault records four goals and an assist to lead St. John’s to an 8-2 win at Cape Breton in Game 4 of their first-round series.

April 20, 1952 – A sudden-death overtime goal by Ray Hannigan gives the Pittsburgh Hornets the Calder Cup championship with a 3-2 win over the Providence Reds.

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.