One down, one to go… Milwaukee now awaits its partner for the AHL’s final dance of the Calder Cup 2004 Playoffs:
The Milwaukee Admirals captured the Western Conference championship with a 4-1 win over Rochester in Game 5 on Wednesday night… Greg Classen and Vern Fiddler scored two goals each, and Wade Flaherty shined with 44 saves.
As conference champions, Milwaukee captured the Robert W. Clarke Trophy, which is named for the co-founder of – ironically enough – the Rochester Americans.
Flaherty stopped 171 of 180 shots in the series (.950), including 119 of 123 (.967) in the last three games, all on the road… Milwaukee has won five straight road contests.
Classen had one goal in his first 15 playoff games before Wednesday; Fiddler had two in his previous 24 games, dating back to late March.
The Admirals franchise last reached a league championship series in 1983, when they lost the IHL’s Turner Cup Final to Toledo… Starring for that Toldeo team was current Milwaukee head coach Claude Noel.
This will be the sixth time in the last seven years that the AHL’s regular-season points champion has reached the Calder Cup Final. Philadelphia (1998), Providence (1999) and Hartford (2000) won the Cup, while Bridgeport (2002) and Hamilton (2003) fell short.
Rochester forward Domenic Pittis saw his postseason end with 61 career Calder Cup Playoff assists (good for third all-time) and 80 career points (ninth).
The Admirals will open the Calder Cup 2004 Final at the Bradley Center next week, hosting either Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Tuesday and Wednesday) or Hartford (Wednesday and Friday).
The Penguins take a 3-2 series lead into Friday’s Game 6 at the Wachovia Arena, which is already sold out.
A 3-2 deficit in a conference final facing a daunting road challenge is nothing new for the Wolf Pack… Hartford faced the same situation four years ago and posted a Game 6 victory in Providence, ending the Bruins’ AHL-record 16-game home playoff winning streak… The Pack would take Game 7 as well and eventually win the Calder Cup.
QUOTABLE:“Flaherty was the difference. I mean, Rochester threw everything at us. You talk about winning ugly.” — Milwaukee head coach Claude Noel, whose team finished off Rochester with three straight road wins despite being outshot 123-74.
ON THIS DATE:May 27, 1999 — Jose Theodore‘s 49-save shutout extends Fredericton’s season one more day, as the Canadiens take Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final from Providence, 4-0. May 27, 1997 — Joe Hulbig scores twice as the first-year Hamilton Bulldogs win the Northern Conference championship with a 7-3 win over Albany in Game 5 at Copps Coliseum. May 27, 1992 — St. John’s improves its road record to 7-0 with a 5-2 victory over Adirondack in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Final, forcing a winner-take-all match back in Newfoundland.
Eastern Conference schedule
Western Conference schedule
Previous Calder Cup Notebooks:
Wednesday, May 26
Tuesday, May 25
Monday, May 24
Sunday, May 23
Saturday, May 22
Friday, May 21
Thursday, May 20
Wednesday, May 19