Calder Cup contenders down to 4

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Twenty-four down, four to go. A quartet of teams remains in the hunt for the 2005 Calder Cup championship after the division finals concluded on Saturday night.

The Philadelphia Phantoms are in the conference finals for the first time since 1999 after a five-game victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the East Division title series. The Phantoms stunned the Penguins with six goals in the final 11:23 of a 7-4 victory in the series-clinching Game 5. Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter, who finished his junior career at Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) last month, is tied for the AHL lead with nine goals and tied for second with 13 points in 11 games this postseason.

The Phantoms will take on the Atlantic Division’s Providence Bruins for the Richard F. Canning Trophy, which is awarded to the Eastern Conference representative in the Calder Cup Finals. The Bruins, who ousted Lowell in five games to advance to their fourth conference final in the last seven years, are looking to become just the fourth team in AHL history to win a Calder Cup after finishing in fourth place in their division. Andy Hilbert leads the league with 12 assists and 16 points in 11 playoff games, including a trio of four-point nights.

Chicago continues its quest for its second Calder Cup title in four years after vanquishing Cincinnati in the West Division final. Cory Larose, who played in the conference finals with Houston in 2002 and Hartford in 2004, leads the Wolves with six goals and 10 points in 10 postseason outings, and Kari Lehtonen has a registered a 1.62 GAA while compiling a 6-2 record in net.

The Wolves will meet Manitoba for the Robert W. Clarke Trophy representing the Western Conference championship, after the Moose took out regular-season champion Rochester in five games to win the North Division. The Moose, whose 22 home wins in 2004-05 ranked 15th out of 16 postseason qualifiers, are 6-0 at the MTS Centre so far in the Calder Cup Playoffs, averaging a league-high 9,796 fans per game. On the ice, Winnipeg native Lee Goren has nine goals and a plus-10 rating in 10 games for Manitoba.

The Western Conference final opens Thursday at Allstate Arena, while the Eastern Conference final gets underway Friday at the Wachovia Center.

ETC. … Philadelphia’s Jon Sim led all scorers with eight points (5g, 3a) in the division final round… Four Finnish goaltenders skated in the AHL this season; three – Kari Lehtonen, Antero Niittymaki and Hannu Toivonen – have led their teams to the conference finals… The four remaining league semifinalists are a combined 20-2 at home this postseason… Providence has become the fourth team in AHL history to knock off two 100-point teams in the same postseason… Chicago has won nine of its 11 playoff series since joining the AHL in 2001-02… By helping to oust Rochester for the second straight spring, Manitoba goalie Wade Flaherty improved to 24-7 in 31 appearances over the last two postseasons… Playoff attendance in the AHL is up 30.7 percent, as compared to the end of the division final round in 2004.

Complete 2005 Calder Cup Playoff schedule and results

Interactive 2005 playoff brackets

All times Eastern… *if necessary

Eastern Conference Final – Series “M”

Game 1 – Fri., May 20 – Providence at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 2 – Sat., May 21 – Providence at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 3 – Mon., May 23 – Philadelphia at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Wed., May 25 – Philadelphia at Providence, 7:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 27 – Philadelphia at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., May 29 – Providence at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 7 – Tue., May 31 – Providence at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
(WC) at Wachovia Center

Regular Season Comparison
Goals for235211
Goals against185202
PP% (rank)16.3 (9)18.5 (4)
PK% (rank)87.4 (5)84.1 (17)

Calder Cup Playoff Comparison
2005 Record8-38-3
2005 Home6-04-1
2005 Road2-34-2
2005 GF-GA37-2339-27
2005 PP% (rank)19.7 (3)18.8 (6)
2005 PK% (rank)88.7 (5)83.0 (10)
Record (games)53-3655-47
Record (series)12-612-9
OT record9-711-6
Calder Cup titles1 (1998)1 (1999)
Losing finalist00

2004-05 Regular Season Series
at PHI1-0-0-00-1-0-0
at PRO1-0-0-00-0-1-0
Power play3/16 (18.8%)1/9 (11.1%)
ScoringSim, 3+2=5
Umberger, 2+1=3
Jones, 0+3=3
B. Thompson, 2+0=2
Bergeron, 1+1=2
Samuelsson, 1+0=1
GoaltendingNiittymaki, 2-0-0, 1.98Toivonen, 0-1-0, 3.92

ResultsNov. 21PHI 4 at PRO 3 (OT)
Nov. 24PRO 1 at PHI 4

The Phantoms and Bruins collide in the 2005 Eastern Conference Final, the first postseason meeting between these two cities since 1938, when Frank Brimsek, Bun Cook and the Providence Reds beat the Philadelphia Ramblers, 2-1, in a best-of-three league semifinal series… The Phantoms are 6-0 at the Wachovia Center during the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs, outscoring their opponents, 25-9… Mike Richards made his pro debut and recorded seven points in five games against Wilkes-Barre in the East Division final… Andy Hilbert is pacing the AHL with 16 playoff points… Bruins captain Jay Henderson is playing in his sixth Calder Cup Playoffs, reaching the conference finals for the sixth time… Brad Boyes, a 30-goal scorer in each of his first three AHL seasons, leads Providence with six playoff goals.

All times Eastern… *if necessary

Western Conference Final – Series “N”

Game 1 – Thu., May 19 – Manitoba at Chicago, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 21 – Manitoba at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Mon., May 23 – Chicago at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., May 25 – Chicago at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., May 27 – Chicago at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 29 – Manitoba at Chicago, 4:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 31 – Manitoba at Chicago, 8:00

Regular Season Comparison
Goals for245243
Goals against211210
PP% (rank)16.1 (10)18.0 (5)
PK% (rank)84.5 (14)83.9 (18)

Calder Cup Playoff Comparison
2005 Record8-28-2
2005 Home4-16-0
2005 Road4-12-2
2005 GF-GA31-1633-24
2005 PP% (rank)10.3 (13)13.3 (10)
2005 PK% (rank)89.8 (2)83.9 (9)
Record (games)34-2019-12
Record (series)9-25-2
OT record6-44-1
Calder Cup titles1 (2002)0
Losing finalist00

2004-05 Regular Season Series
at CHI2-0-0-00-2-0-0
at MTB1-1-0-01-1-0-0
Power play4/26 (15.4%)7/28 (25.0%)
ScoringVigier, 1+4=5
Bohonos, 2+2=4
Hawgood, 2+1=3
Sarno, 0+5=5
Kesler, 2+1=3
King, 2+1=3
GoaltendingLehtonen, 2-0-0, 2.50
Garnett, 1-1-0, 3.00
Flaherty, 1-1-0, 2.03
Auld, 0-2-0, 3.05

ResultsDec. 31CHI 4 at MTB 3
Jan. 1CHI 0 at MTB 6
Mar. 12MTB 0 at CHI 1
Mar. 13MTB 2 at CHI 5

After knocking off the top two teams in the North Division, Manitoba sets its sights on West Division champion Chicago… The Moose will be playing their eighth Calder Cup Playoff series since joining the AHL, and are 5-2 so far despite never having had home-ice advantage… Josh Green, who had not seen playoff action since a three-game stint with Edmonton in the 2001 Stanley Cup Playoffs, had a hat trick in Manitoba’s series-clinching win over Rochester… Moose defenseman Joe DiPenta won a Calder Cup with the Wolves in 2002… Chicago forward Brad Larsen’s playoff experience includes trips to the conference finals with Hershey (2000, 2001) in the AHL and Colorado (2002) in the NHL… The Wolves own a 14-4 edge in third-period scoring this postseason.