AHL Morning Skate: Winner take all in Hershey 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 4, Worcester 3 (PRO leads series, 3-2)
MILWAUKEE 7, Houston 0 (Series tied, 3-3)

1. Defenseman Robert Dietrich had a career night for Milwaukee with one goal, three assists and a plus-4 rating in the Admirals’ 7-0 win over Houston.

2. Milwaukee’s Cody Franson was strong at both ends of the ice, recording a goal, an assist, a plus-3 and a game-high five shots.

3. Providence captain Jeremy Reich capped the Bruins’ three-goal second period and helped the B’s to a 4-3 win over Worcester.

Game 7 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00 (Series tied, 3-3)

CC09rd2_160x600.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Worcester Sharks

Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 28 – PROVIDENCE 3, Worcester 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Wed., May 6 – Providence 4, WORCESTER 2
Game 3 – Fri., May 8 – Worcester 5, PROVIDENCE 3
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – WORCESTER 1, Providence 0
Game 5 – Mon., May 11 – PROVIDENCE 4, Worcester 3
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

Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – HERSHEY 5, W-B/Scranton 3
Game 2 – Sun., May 3 – HERSHEY 3, W-B/Scranton 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 6 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 8 – W-B/SCRANTON 6, Hershey 3
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, Hershey 1
Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – HERSHEY 3, W-B/Scranton 0
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

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 3, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 6 – Manitoba 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2

West Division Finals – Series
“L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MILWAUKEE 4, Houston 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 1
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – HOUSTON 2, Milwaukee 0
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee 4, HOUSTON 3
Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – MILWAUKEE 7, Houston 0
Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00 

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 7 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00 (Series tied, 3-3)
The East Division playoff championship will be decided tonight as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey battle it out in Game 7 at Giant Center, with the winner advancing to take on Providence or Worcester in the Eastern Conference Finals… Each club has scored 17 goals as the home team has captured each of the first six games in the series… The Bears, now a perfect 5-0 in Chocolatetown this postseason, got a 30-save performance from rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth in a 3-0 win in Game 6 on Sunday, his second shutout of the playoffs… Darren Reid tallied his second goal in as many games for the Bears, who also received markers from Andrew Gordon and AHL MVP Alexandre Giroux… Giroux is pacing the Bears with five postseason goals and ranks second with 10 points in 10 games… Chris Bourque leads Hershey with six points (1-5-6) in the division finals and 11 points (1-10-11) overall for the playoffs… The Penguins are led by Chris Minard‘s six goals (6-3-9) and Jeff Taffe‘s 11 points (5-6-11) in 11 postseason contests apiece… Rookie Nick Johnson has a team-high four goals and eight points against the Bears this round… Adam Berkhoel made 40 saves in the Game 6 loss, and shows a .942 save percentage for the series… Sunday marked Wilkes-Barre’s first shutout loss in 125 games (regular season and playoffs), since a 3-0 loss to Albany on Mar. 21, 2008… The Pens boast the AHL’s top-ranked playoff power play (32.1 percent) but are 2-for-16 on the road in the series… Hershey is 7-8 all-time in Game 7’s and 18-17 in winner-take-all games overall… Wilkes-Barre is 4-0 in Game 7’s, 5-0 in winner-take-all games… Wilkes-Barre’s last seven series wins have all been clinched on home ice; the Penguins have not celebrated a series victory on the road since defeating Hartford in overtime of Game 7 in the 2004 conference finals… Hershey has not been ousted from the playoffs at home since closing down Hersheypark Arena with a loss to Houston in 2002… Even with Houston’s first-round win at Peoria, home teams are still 41-32 (.562) in Game 7’s throughout Calder Cup Playoff history, including 11-2 since 2006.


Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Bears-Penguins has become arguably the premier rivalry in the AHL in the past four seasons. One thing has been missing: a clash in an ultimate playoff game in which both clubs face elimination. But that will happen tonight when the Bears and Baby Penguins collide in Game 7 of the East Division finals at Giant Center. The winner advances to the Eastern Conference finals. The loser takes its 100-plus-point regular season and dashed Calder Cup dreams to the golf course. Game 7 will mark a belated full consummation of a rivalry that began when WBS joined the league in 1999.

Paul Sokoloski, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
In the middle of a losing battle against their arch-rival, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins asked Adam Berkhoel to help them save face. He did even more. Berkhoel took it upon himself to save their season. No matter what happens for the Penguins against Hershey during tonight’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Berkhoel deserves most of the credit for carrying his team there. Without him, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s hopes in the Calder Cup playoffs may have already melted. The Penguins were on their way to a 2-0 series deficit and looking like a team about to get swept when Berkhoel turned things around.

Jonathan Bombulie, Citizens’ Voice
Starting literally on the first night of the season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have said repeatedly that the road to the 2009 Calder Cup goes through Hershey. Tonight, the Penguins will find out if their journey continues in glory or halts at a dead end. It’s Game 7 of the East Division finals at the Giant Center. For the Bears, it’s a chance to vanquish the team that’s given them more trouble than any other this season. For the Penguins, it’s a shot at redemption. For both teams, it’s a chance to accomplish something great.

Kevin Freeman, Lancaster Intelligencer Journal
If intangibles exist in the playoffs, you’ve got to figure that the Hershey Bears have at least two working in their favor heading into tonight’s Game 7 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. One, the Bears are coming off a win, so there’s the momentum factor. Two, the game is being played at the Giant Center, where Hershey is undefeated in the postseason. Also, the home team has won every game in this Calder Cup divisional final series. “It just seems like whoever is at home is getting a bounce or two,” said Hershey right wing Andrew Gordon. “But none of that matters now.”

Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
And on the fourth day, they rested. After playing three tough games in three days, the Hershey Bears and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins basically took yesterday off. Both teams held optional on-ice practices, but the players on the ice were pretty much the players who have been watching the series from the stands. Except for some meetings, and some stretching, it was a day of rest and recuperation. All that changes tonight. The winner goes to the Eastern Conference finals. The loser heads home for the summer.

Darryl Mellema, Houston Chronicle
Game 7 awaits the Aeros again. The Aeros and Milwaukee Admirals have battled to a six-game standstill in the AHL’s West Division finals, and a winner-take-all contest will decide this best-of-seven series Wednesday night at the Bradley Center. The worrisome aspect is that the Aeros’ defense, the team’s strong suit as it took a 3-1 series lead, has collapsed in back-to-back losses. The latest of these was Monday night’s 7-0 pounding at the Bradley Center. “Game 7s are pretty fun,” Aeros center Corey Locke said. “We’ve done it before and now we’ve got to play another Game 7, and the guys will be excited to come out on Wednesday.”

Dave Boehler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Milwaukee Admirals are doing just fine in their do-or-die situation. Seven players scored as Milwaukee crushed Houston, 7-0, in Game 6 of the best-of-seven West Division finals series Monday night at the Bradley Center. Game 7 is set for Wednesday at home after Milwaukee trailed the series, 3-1. “It’s Game 7, something we all live for, right?” Houston coach Kevin Constantine said. “Kids think about it, dream about it, it’s a Game 7. To the degree we can, we have to put tonight behind us.” Robert Dietrich had a goal and three assists as Milwaukee registered a season high for goals and largest margin of victory.


Bill Ballou, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
One of the beautiful things about playoff hockey is that there’s no political correctness anywhere. Take hatred, for instance. Not only is it not discouraged, it’s recommended, and there’s plenty of it to go around in this Calder Cup series between the Sharks and the Providence Bruins. The Bruins won last night’s game here, 4-3, and now lead the series, 3-2. Worcester is one loss away from elimination, with the next game tomorrow night at the DCU Center. “It’s going to go seven games,” Sharks coach Roy Sommer said, and who’s to doubt him? Each of the first five games has gone down to the final minute, and each has kept every fan in his or her seat until the final buzzer.

Eric Stephens, NHL.com
Just how do the Detroit Red Wings do it? That question alone could produce a number of different answers, but in this case it relates to their ability to tap into the American Hockey League and bring in young players who are not only comfortable in the tense environment that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but also provide a key contribution to the Red Wings’ success. More examples are being played out in this postseason as the defending champions try to eliminate the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.

David Steckel deflected home a shot by fellow 2006 Calder Cup champion Brooks Laich with 6:22 gone in overtime as Washington forced a seventh game in its conference semifinal series with a 5-4 win in Pittsburgh last night… Kris Versteeg netted his third goal of the playoffs and former Calder Cup finalist and AHL All-Star Brian Campbell chipped in two assists as Chicago outlasted Vancouver, 7-5, to advance to the Western Conference Finals… Shane O’Brien, who led AHL defensemen with six goals and 22 points during the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs with Portland, scored his first career NHL playoff goal for the Canucks.

– Most Game 7 victories by one team, a record held by the Rochester Americans (8-2)… Hershey (7-8) can tie the mark with a win tonight.

5 – Most Game 7 victories without a loss by one team, a mark held by the Maine Mariners… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton brings a 4-0 Game 7 record into tonight’s deciding game.

14 – AHL Game 7’s that have gone to overtime, including Hershey’s win over Portland in the 2006 conference finals and Wilkes-Barre’s 2004 victories in Bridgeport and Hartford.

May 12, 2008Brent Aubin scores twice as Toronto completes its comeback from a 3-1 series deficit and advances to the Western Conference final with a 3-2 win vs. Syracuse in Game 7.

May 12, 2004Kari Lehtonen stops 43 of 44 shots as Chicago avoids elimination with a 2-1 win at Milwaukee in Game 5 of the West Division final.

May 12, 1998Dan Cloutier makes 52 saves, Derek Armstrong scores and Marc Savard adds two assists as Hartford keeps its season alive with a 4-1 win at Worcester in Game 6 of their division final.

May 12, 1984 – Bud Stefanski scores his second overtime goal of the series as the Maine Mariners take a 3-2 victory and a 3-1 series lead over Rochester in the Calder Cup Finals.

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.