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 3, Worcester 2 (OT) (PRO leads series, 1-0)
TUESDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Providence captain Jeremy Reich scored the winning goal in overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over Worcester to open the Atlantic Division Finals.
2. Worcester rookie Jamie McGinn scored twice to tie the game after arriving from San Jose earlier in the day.
3. Bruins rookie Brad Marchand posted a goal and an assist in the winning effort.
THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 1 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Worcester Sharks || Preview
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
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 || Preview
Game 1 – Fri., May 1 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30
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 at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri. or Sat., May 8 or 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 1 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
Division-champion Milwaukee and third-place Houston open the West Division Finals tonight at the Bradley Center… Milwaukee has been idle since finishing an opening-round sweep of Rockford on Apr. 21, while the Aeros are coming off Monday’s Game 7 victory over Peoria… Former Calder Cup champion Corey Locke paced Houston in the division semis with four goals and nine points, eight of which came on the power play… Rookie Matt Beaudoin added eight points (2-6-8), seven on the PP… The Aeros scored 10 of their 20 goals in the series on the power play and rank second in the AHL postseason with the man advantage (32.3 percent)… Two of defenseman Maxim Noreau’s three goals in the series were game-winners, including one in overtime of Game 5 and one to snap a third-period tie in Game 7… Houston goaltender Anton Khudobin, who appeared in just 10 regular-season games for the Aeros this year, went 4-3 (2.45, .906) with one shutout in his first AHL playoff series… Milwaukee netminder Drew MacIntyre stopped 105 of 109 shots (1.00, .963) in his team’s first-round sweep of Rockford, surrendering just one goal in each game… Cal O’Reilly posted a team-high six points (2-4-6) in the four contests, and Mike Santorelli (3-1-4) and Jed Ortmeyer (1-3-4) each put up four points in the series-clinching 4-1 victory… These teams’ two previous AHL playoff meetings both ended in sweeps, with Houston winning three straight in 2003 and Milwaukee taking four in a row in 2006… The Game 1 winner has gone on to capture the West Division Finals in each of the last five years.
WAIT IS OFF THEIR SHOULDERS
Dave Boehler, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Waiting has been the worst part for the Milwaukee Admirals. “We’re itching to get back now,” said center Cal O’Reilly. “We’re all itching.” Eight days off will have that effect. “Yeah, we’re very anxious to get going,” added defenseman Nolan Yonkman. “That’s always the problem with sweeping a team. You’ve got to wait for the next round to start, especially if the other series doesn’t finish early.” That other series lasted seven games and was finally decided Monday when Houston eliminated Peoria. Milwaukee swept Rockford on April 21 in the first round of the playoffs and has been waiting ever since.
AEROS TO TAKE ON DIFFERENT ADMIRALS
Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
The Aeros spent most of the season chasing the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL West Division standings. For the first six weeks, it was anybody’s division, but after Thanksgiving, the Admirals pulled away, leaving six teams in a battle for the last three playoff spots. Rockford had the first crack in the playoffs and failed, scoring just four goals in a four-game sweep that ended nearly two weeks ago. Now the Aeros, who Monday upset the Peoria Rivermen in Game 7, will have their chance against a team they competed well against in the regular season.
PLAYOFF SERIES PIT PARENT AND AHL TEAMS
Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins will be squaring off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup quarterfinals in Washington on Saturday. About five hours after the puck drops there, the Hershey Bears and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be squaring off in Game 1 of their AHL East Division final series. That both an NHL team and its AHL farm team enjoy success in the same season isn’t unheard of. In fact, that happened last season, when both Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton reached the championship round. But it doesn’t happen much. Neither does it happen much that two organizations collide in the playoffs in two different leagues after the opening round. But it’s happening this year.
JEFFREY HAS DEFENSE ON HIS MIND
Jonathan Bombulie, Citizens’ Voice
In the movie Hoosiers, Gene Hackman’s character advises his Hickory High School basketball team how to play defense. “Stick with your man,” Norman Dale barks. “Think of him as chewing gum. By the end of the game, I want you to know what flavor he is.” By the end of the East Division finals, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins center Dustin Jeffrey will want to know whether Hershey Bears star Alexandre Giroux is peppermint and linemate Keith Aucoin spearmint or vice versa. Giroux and Aucoin were far and away the highest-scoring tandem in the AHL this season. Jeffrey, with wingers Connor James and Tim Wallace, will form the checking line designed to slow Hershey’s dynamic duo down when the series begins Saturday at the Giant Center.
MORMINA ISN’T THE QUIET KIND
Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Need someone to liven things up at your next party or get together? The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have the perfect person, but you better check the date first because he might be busy manning the blueline. Penguins defenseman Joey Mormina proved all season that he isn’t bashful. He likes to talk to teammates and opposing players alike. With teammates, Mormina is quick with compliments and advice. But with opposing players, the dialogue is a little less than complimentary. Just ask Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward Jon Sim – another player who isn’t afraid to talk. Just about every time he and Mormina met on the ice during the first round of the playoffs, words were exchanged… as were shoves and jabs.
MOOSE GET UP TO SPEED
Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
The win-or-lose finality of the playoffs makes it easy to go to the black-and-white judgments of performance. The Manitoba Moose, who bounced the Toronto Marlies 4-2 in the first round of the AHL post-season, could be branded slow starters for having fallen behind 2-1 in the series, but they were not cold in the first three games and hot in the final three. “It’s a new season, there’s a lot of pressure and all that,” said Moose centre Jason Krog as his team returned to practice on Tuesday at the MTS Centre. “It’s not really the way we played at the end of the season, but sometimes it just takes a couple of games to adjust to playoff hockey.”
Paul Friesen, Winnipeg Sun
Seven months ago, he was a 23-year-old without a job, relegated to hockey’s unemployment line, also known as the walk-on tryout. At that point, another season in the ECHL looked pretty good. But a funny thing happened to Guillaume Desbiens on his way to becoming a career Coast Leaguer. He became the Manitoba Moose surprise of the year. “I came here thinking maybe I could make the team,” Desbiens was saying yesterday. “It’s been a good run for me this year.” You could say that. Second on the team in playoff scoring, fourth during the season – not bad for someone who’d been a spare part in Chicago’s run to the AHL title last year.
FISTRIC LINES UP GRIFFINS
Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
Mark Fistric is embracing the added responsibility with open arms. The Manitoba defenseman figures to continue to play a valuable role on a shutdown pairing with Maxime Fortunus as his team prepares to face the Grand Rapids Griffins in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. Quite simply, Fistric was a force in the first-round series with Toronto after finishing the regular season with the Dallas Stars. Fistric and Fortunus expect to see a healthy dose of Darren Haydar, Ville Leino and Justin Abdelkader, who combined for 31 points in an opening-round series against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Taking the body against those skilled players will be a key in trying to contain them.
AHL TO TAKE ANOTHER SHOT AT PLAYING AT CIVIC CENTER
Maury Thompson, Glens Falls Post Star
Glens Falls is getting a second chance to be a hockey town after a decade without an American Hockey League franchise. The AHL Board of Governors announced Tuesday it has approved the relocation of the Phantoms, the top farm club of the Philadelphia Flyers, to Glens Falls, where they will play at the Civic Center beginning next season. Rob Brooks, co-owner of the Phantoms, said a combination of factors, including the support of city officials and the community, persuaded him and his brother to move forward with the relocation after several weeks of uncertainty.
RATS SEE BENEFIT TO AHL DECISION
Pete Dougherty, Albany Times Union
The curtain rose Tuesday on the Adirondack Phantoms. Forty-five miles to the south, the Albany River Rats hope the curtains will rise at Times Union Center. As expected, the American Hockey League’s board of governors approved the relocation of the Philadelphia Phantoms to Glens Falls. Where the impact may be greater is in the larger, downtown Albany arena that houses the River Rats. Memories of the 1990s, when curtains covering the Times Union Center’s upper deck often were raised to accommodate crowds when the former Adirondack Red Wings were in town, inspired the Rats to become proactive in helping Glens Falls secure an AHL franchise.
AHL APPROVES FLAMES AFFILIATE IN ABBOTSFORD
Chuck Chiang, Calgary Herald
The American Hockey League has approved the move of Calgary Flames’ minor league affiliate to Abbotsford, B.C., officials said Tuesday. Abbotsford mayor George W. Peary said in a release that the AHL board of governors have approved the franchise, which will start play in the 2009-2010 season. The team has yet to be named. “We are excited to have the AHL coming to Abbotsford,” said Peary. “The Calgary Flames AHL affiliate team will bring a new brand of hockey to the knowledgeable fans in our City, in the Fraser Valley and across the Lower Mainland.”
TEXAS STARS TO PLAY IN CEDAR PARK NEXT SEASON
Mike Heika, Dallas Morning News
The American Hockey League on Tuesday showed how much it wants the Texas Stars to be a part of the league, granting the team an exemption that will allow it to play the 2009-10 season. The league granted the Texas Stars a limited membership, which has the condition that the club will complete the purchase of an AHL franchise within one year. The Texas Stars are the result of a plan to move the AHL affiliate under the Dallas Stars and Hicks Sports umbrella. Dallas used the Iowa Stars as its AHL affiliate from 2005-08 and then went without an affiliate last season, spreading its prospects among several AHL teams.
All eight head coaches remaining in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs used to be head coaches in the American Hockey League, including 2006 Calder Cup champion Bruce Boudreau of Washington and 2003 AHL coach of the year Claude Julien of Boston… 2005 AHL All-Star Eric Staal scored in the closing minute of regulation as Carolina stunned New Jersey, 4-3, in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal on Tuesday night.
2007 AHL All-Star Ville Koistinen posted a goal and an assist and 2006 Calder Cup finalist and two-time AHL All-Star Pekka Rinne made 18 saves as Finland took a 4-3 win over the Czech Republic on Wednesday at the IIHF World Championships in Switzerland… Ryan Shannon, who had 35 points in 36 AHL games with Binghamton this season, scored two goals for the United States in a 6-5 overtime loss to Sweden yesterday.
BY THE NUMBERS:
2 – Sweeps in the first round of the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs, with Hershey defeating Philadelphia and Milwaukee eliminating Rockford… There was only one series sweep all of last postseason.
5-14 – Since 2000, series record in the next round for teams coming off best-of-seven sweeps… Only Chicago (2007), Milwaukee (2006), Hershey (2006 twice) and Bridgeport (2002) have followed a four-game sweep with another series victory in the last nine years.
April 30, 1997 – Sheldon Souray scores 16:08 into overtime as Albany opens its second-round series with a 3-2 win at Rochester.
April 30, 1993 – The Binghamton Rangers (124 pts.) avoid the biggest upset in AHL history with a 5-3 win over the Baltimore Skipjacks (68 pts.) in Game 7 of their division semifinal.
April 30, 1989 – Adam Graves scores 10:31 into overtime as Adirondack beats Hershey, 2-1, to become the second team in AHL history to rally from an 0-3 series deficit and advance.
April 30, 1967 – The Hornets win their final AHL game in Pittsburgh, capturing the Calder Cup on Billy Harris’s overtime goal against Rochester.
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.