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.
TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Calder Cup Finals Game 1 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
2010 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Thu., June 3 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., June 5 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., June 7 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., June 9 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., June 11 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
*Game 6 – Mon., June 14 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 16 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs
Game 1 – Wed., May 12 – HERSHEY 4, Manchester 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 15 – HERSHEY 3, Manchester 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Mon., May 17 – MANCHESTER 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 4 – Tue., May 18 – MANCHESTER 1, Hershey 0
Game 5 – Thu., May 20 – Hershey 3, MANCHESTER 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Sat., May 22 – HERSHEY 3, Manchester 2 (OT)
Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Fri., May 14 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 16 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 19 – TEXAS 5, Hamilton 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 21 – TEXAS 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., May 22 – Hamilton 3, TEXAS 0
Game 6 – Mon., May 24 – Texas 3, HAMILTON 2 (OT)
*Game 7 – Wed., May 26 – Texas 4, HAMILTON 2
*if necessary… All times Eastern
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 1 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
Video Webcast: AHL Live
Satellite Radio: XM 204, Sirius 208
Series Preview: http://theahl.com/calder-cup-finals-series-preview-p142897
The puck drops on the American Hockey League’s 74th Calder Cup Finals tonight at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, as the Eastern Conference champion Hershey Bears host the Western Conference champion Texas Stars in Game 1… The Bears set an AHL record with 60 wins (60-17-0-3, 123 points) en route to winning the league’s regular-season crown before dispatching Bridgeport (4-1), Albany (4-0), and Manchester (4-2) in the playoffs… The Stars have reached the Finals in their inaugural season – the first AHL team to accomplish that feat since Bridgeport and Chicago both did so in 2002 – after knocking off Rockford (4-0), Chicago (4-3), and Hamilton (4-3), clinching the latter two series with Game 7 victories on the road… Hershey is in the Finals for the fourth time in five years since beginning an affiliation with the NHL’s Washington Capitals in 2005-06, and the Bears are looking to become the AHL’s first repeat champion since the 1990 and 1991 Springfield Indians… The Chocolate and White enter tonight’s Game 1 with a 42-4-0-2 record on home ice this season, including an 8-0 mark in the playoffs… Hershey has won 37 of 38 games at Giant Center since a 5-4 shootout loss to Adirondack on Nov. 28, 2009… A 2006 and 2009 Calder Cup champion with the Bears, Chris Bourque paces Hershey this postseason with 23 points (7-16-23) in 15 games, and he enters the Finals with a point in 10 of his last 11 outings (7-13-20)… AHL MVP Keith Aucoin shows a league-best 18 assists (1-18-19) for the Bears and has recorded at least one helper in 14 of his first 15 playoff contests this spring… Alexandre Giroux, who led Hershey with six goals and eight points in the 2009 Calder Cup Finals vs. Manitoba, shows 12 goals and 21 points in 15 playoff games entering this year’s championship round… Hershey goaltender Michal Neuvirth, the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs MVP, enters the Finals with a 10-2 record (2.13, .917) in 12 appearances this postseason… The Bears are 7-1 in the playoffs when they score the first goal; Texas has surrendered the first marker in eight straight games but shows a 5-3 mark in those contests… Stars rookie sensation Jamie Benn leads all AHL postseason scorers with 14 goals and 24 points in 18 games, and his 14 goals are already tied for the most ever by an AHL rookie in the playoffs… Texas is 10-1 when Benn records at least a point and 2-5 when he doesn’t… Perttu Lindgren is coming off a three-point performance (1-2-3) in the Stars’ 4-2 win at Hamilton in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals… Lindgren’s 14 points overall (6-8-14) are tied with Andrew Hutchinson (4-10-14) for second on the Stars… Texas goaltender Matt Climie is 5-3 (2.61, .924) in nine appearances since taking over in Game 6 of the division finals at Chicago after Brent Krahn was lost to injury… Texas’ penalty-killing unit is clicking at only 74.0 percent (54-for-73) in the playoffs after ranking second in the league (behind Hershey) at 86.4 percent during the regular season… The team that captures Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals has gone on to win the championship 56 of 73 times (76.7%) throughout AHL history, including 14 of the last 16… Since 2002, the higher seed has lost six of eight Calder Cup Finals, including four losses in five tries by the regular-season points champions.
ALL-TIME CALDER CUP PLAYOFF LEADERS
1. Darren Haydar, 135
2. Willie Marshall, 119
3. Jason Krog, 118
4. Jody Gage, 110
5. Fred Glover, 104
6. Alexandre Giroux, 94
1. Darren Haydar, 59
2. Jody Gage, 51
3(t). Willie Marshall, 48
3(t). Fred Glover, 48
3(t). Alexandre Giroux, 48
6. Brad Smyth, 46
7(t). Jason Krog, 42
1(t). Darren Haydar, 76
1(t). Jason Krog, 76
3. Willie Marshall, 71
4. Mike Nykoluk, 62
5. Domenic Pittis, 61
6. Jody Gage, 59
7. Keith Aucoin, 57
1. Bryan Helmer, 132
2. Ken Gernander, 123
3. Fred Glover, 120
4. Jody Gage, 115
TEXAS STARS AIM TO STOP HERSHEY BEARS’ RUN – Harrisburg Patriot-News
Texas Stars defenseman Maxime Fortunus can make a rare claim among AHL players. His visiting team actually won the last time he participated in a playoff game at Giant Center. Fortunus and the Manitoba Moose won Game 5 of last year’s Calder Cup finals to prevent the Hershey Bears from clinching on home ice for the first time since 1980. Of course, the Bears ultimately clinched the Cup in Game 6 at Winnipeg. This year, Fortunus is on a Texas club aiming to stop a repeat for Hershey, which won an AHL-record 60 regular-season games and can stake a claim to the greatest single season in league history by notching four more wins in the Calder Cup finals.
STARS BRACE FOR TITLE-TESTED HERSHEY BEARS – Austin American-Statesman
They may have been strangers during the regular season, but the Texas Stars and Hershey Bears are more than ready to get acquainted. After trudging through a combined 33 postseason games, the two face off Thursday at the Giant Center in Pennsylvania to open the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Championship finals. The Bears, who won their first league title in 1947 and are making a league-record 22nd championship appearance, are shooting to become the ninth team in AHL history to nab back-to-back crowns. The Stars, whose history traces back hardly a year, are on the cusp of becoming the sixth team since 1937 to summit the league’s top spot in their inaugural season.
BEARS WILL HAVE WORK CUT OUT – Lebanon Daily News
When training camp opened last September, the Hershey Bears knew they’d have a pretty good team. They were, after all, returning most of the players who had been part of the 2009 Calder Cup championship team. "Pretty good," however, turned out to be an understatement. But as far as the Bears were concerned, as successful as the regular season was, that success was almost secondary. When the Bears opened training camp, they had one goal in mind: to win the Calder Cup. They are now just four wins away from doing just that.
STARS’ COACH GULUTZAN’S PRIORITIES: FAMILY FIRST, THEN WINNING – Austin American-Statesman
Glen Gulutzan was at the tail end of another 14-hour day when the thought occurred to him: Time was slipping away. That may sound dramatic, but not to Gulutzan, the Texas Stars coach who six years ago vowed not only to give his extra time exclusively to his family, but to create even more of it to spend with them. Despite trading his daily grind for more time with his kids — a no-brainer by his accounts — Gulutzan has created a buzz that may carry him into the ranks of the NHL sooner rather than later. He reached the 300-wins mark earlier this year, needing fewer than seven full seasons to do it, and has led the first-year Stars into the AHL Calder Cup finals, which start tonight in Pennsylvania.
BENN LEADS DALLAS STARS’ FARMHANDS INTO AHL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES – Dallas Morning News
Teddy Roosevelt would have liked Jamie Benn – the Stars rookie hates talking and loves scoring goals. After a 22-goal season with the Stars, Benn was assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate for the playoffs. Now, he leads the playoffs in scoring and has helped the Texas Stars get to the Calder Cup finals, which begin tonight in Hershey, Pa. "He’s a really quiet kid, but you can see all the time that he’s listening, soaking up the information and finding a way to use it on the ice," Texas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He’s definitely the model of ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ He just wants to get out there and play and let his actions do the talking."
LINDGREN DAZZLING IN AHL, LOOKING TO TAKE NEXT STEP – DallasStars.com
By now, everyone knows how Dallas Stars rookie Jamie Benn has been tearing up the AHL playoffs for the organization’s top minor league affiliate, the Texas Stars, who are based in the Austin suburb of Cedar Park. What Stars fans may not realize is that another significant contributor to the farm club’s storybook run to the Calder Cup Finals has been Finnish center Perttu Lindgren. Lindgren’s six post-season goals trails only Benn’s league-leading 14 on the squad, while his eight assists give him 14 points in 18 games, including a virtuoso performance when it mattered most.
CALDER CUP FINALS MARK A HERSHEY RETURN FOR JERRARD – Harrisburg Patriot-News
Paul Jerrard enjoyed a Hersheypark Arena homecoming Wednesday when the Texas Stars practiced at the venerable building. Stars assistant coach Jerrard called it home during his tenure as a Hershey Bears player from 1994-97. “It certainly brought back a lot of old memories,” said Jerrard, a member of Hershey’s 1996-97 Calder Cup team. Jerrard also served as Hershey’s assistant coach from 2003-05, the final two seasons of the Colorado Avalanche affiliation. He’ll make a return to Giant Center, which opened in 2002, when Texas and Hershey open the Calder Cup finals Thursday night.
THE CUP IS WHAT MATTERS MOST TO GIROUX – Lebanon Daily News
Prior to the 2009-10 campaign, only three players had scored 50 or more goals in consecutive seasons in the American Hockey League. Hershey’s Alexandre Giroux became the fourth when he finished the regular season with 50 goals as an encore to his 60-goal performance last year. Giroux was equally deadly in the playoffs, scoring a league-leading 15 goals in helping the Bears claim the 2009 Calder Cup championship, and adding 12 this year in helping the Bears reach the Cup finals for the fourth time in five seasons. But the last thing on Giroux’s mind as the Bears prepare to face the Texas Stars in the opening round of this season’s championship series is his goal total.
SCHNEIDER EARNS ONE-WAY TICKET – Winnipeg Sun
Goalie Cory Schneider has his one-way ticket. Where in the NHL it’ll eventually take him remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: the most valuable player for the Manitoba Moose the last two seasons isn’t likely to see a minor-league net in Winnipeg again. Schneider has re-signed with the Vancouver Canucks, agreeing to a one-way, two-year deal that will pay him $900,000 per season to be Roberto Luongo’s backup — unless the Canucks trade him. “It’s a great opportunity in Vancouver,” Schneider, fresh off a game of golf with his dad, told the Sun from his home in Boston, Wednesday. “You’ve got to start somewhere. You don’t just jump in and play 60 games off the hop.”
SCHNEIDER ON ONE-WAY TICKET TO THE NHL – Vancouver Sun
The sun came up Wednesday for Cory Schneider, which obviously means he wasn’t in sodden Vancouver. The Canuck goaltending prospect was back home in Boston where he celebrated his new two-year, one-way, $1.8 million contract with a round of golf. Conditions were ideal. "It’s 80 degrees and sunny here," Schneider said, rubbing it in. "I’m very excited about the deal," said Schneider. "It’s a great stepping stone for me to kind of work my way into the league next year and, hopefully, play as many games as I can."
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
Claude Giroux capped a three-point night (1-2-3) with the game-winning goal at 5:59 of overtime as Philadelphia cut its series deficit in the Stanley Cup Finals to 2-1 with a 4-3 win over Chicago on Wednesday night… Ville Leino and 1998 AHL Rookie of the Year Daniel Briere also scored for the Flyers, and 2008 AHL Outstanding Goaltender Michael Leighton earned his first career Stanley Cup Finals win with 24 saves in net… Defenseman Duncan Keith registered a goal for the Blackhawks.
BY THE NUMBERS:
36 – Calder Cup Finals appearances by teams from Pennsylvania (Hershey 22, Pittsburgh 7, Philadelphia 4, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3), the most of any state/province… New York teams have appeared in 33 Finals (Rochester 16, Buffalo 9, Glens Falls 4, Syracuse 2, Albany 1, Binghamton 1).
ON THIS DATE:
June 3, 2006 – Tomas Fleischmann records two goals and two assists and Mike Green tallies three assists in Hershey’s 6-3 win at Milwaukee in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals.
June 3, 2002 – Steve Maltais nets a hat trick and Yuri Butsayev scores 2:05 into the second overtime period as Chicago captures its first Calder Cup championship with a 4-3 win over Bridgeport.
June 3, 1998 – Peter White gets the game-winner at 2:54 of OT as Philadelphia beats Saint John, 4-3, in the third consecutive overtime game to begin the Calder Cup Finals.
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