SPRINGFIELD 3, WORCESTER 2 (OT)
Two-time Calder Cup champion Kyle Wilson kept the hot hand with two goals in a three-minute span during the first period and then capped off his hat trick with the game-winner in overtime as Springfield continued its winning ways with a 3-2 victory over visiting Worcester on Saturday at the MassMutual Center.
The Falcons established a season high with their third straight win – all in either overtime or the shootout – and improved to 7-3-0-0 in their last 10 games. Springfield also closed to within four points of Connecticut for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
Wilson, who was assigned to Springfield by parent-club Columbus on Jan. 21, has now racked up 10 goals and 17 points in just 13 games since joining the Falcons, including 6-4-10 totals during his current five-game scoring streak.
A two-time Calder Cup champion in Hershey, Wilson staked the Falcons to a 2-0 first-period lead when he scored at 13:46 and 16:51, with Trevor Smith earning an assist on both markers.
Springfield rookie goaltender Gustaf Wesslau earned his third straight win in net with 29 saves and moved above the .500 mark overall at 12-11-1 in 24 appearances.
The Sharks are now winless in three straight games (0-2-1-0) and sit just one point up on Springfield for fourth place in the Atlantic.
TORONTO 4, GRAND RAPIDS 3 (SO)
Toronto battled back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in regulation and ultimately collected a 4-3 shootout victory over visiting Grand Rapids on Saturday afternoon before 5,077 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.
But rookie Joe Colborne, making his Marlies debut after being acquired from the Boston organization on Friday, connected in the fourth round to tie it up, and Mike Zigomanis followed with a fifth-round conversion to give Toronto the win.
Marlies goaltender Andrew Engelage stopped 25 of 28 shots through the first 65 minutes before making three shootout saves to earn the victory in his AHL season debut.
Emmerton and Chris Minard finished with a goal and an assist for Grand Rapids, and Tatar also found the back of the net.
HAMILTON 3, SAN ANTONIO 1
Hamilton spotted San Antonio a 1-0 first-period lead but then registered three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 win over the visiting Rampage on Saturday afternoon at Copps Coliseum.
Bracken Kearns gave San Antonio the early edge when he netted a power play goal 6:16 into the contest, but Bulldogs forwards Ryan Russell (15:32) and Ben Maxwell (19:37) answered to put Hamilton on top to stay.
The game remained 2-1 in favor of the Bulldogs until Andreas Engqvist sealed the victory with a late empty-netter.
Goaltender Curtis Sanford (21-13-1) turned aside 20 of 21 shots for the Bulldogs, who have now won twice in as many days on the heels of a five-game losing skid. Maxwell has registered the game-winning goal in both victories.
San Antonio continues its nine-game road trip on Monday afternoon in Toronto.
MANCHESTER 5, PORTLAND 4
Bud Holloway recorded a goal and two assists for a game-high three points as Manchester edged visiting Portland by a 5-4 count before 7,669 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday in the match-up of the Atlantic Division’s two teams.
The Monarchs, who extended their points streak to four games (3-0-1-0) and improved to 7-1-1-2 in their last 11 outings, are now three points up on Portland for the division lead, though the Pirates still hold three games in hand.
Holloway has recorded multiple points in three of his last four games (2-5-7) for Manchester and shows a team-leading 44 points (19-25-44) in 57 contests overall.
Goaltender Martin Jones stopped 23 shots in net for the Monarchs, as the rookie earned his 20th victory of the campaign (20-7-1).
First-year forward Luke Adam paced the Pirates with his 16th and 17th goals of the season, defenseman T.J. Brennan had a goal and an assist, and Jacob Lagace also scored. Mark Mancari and Marc-Andre Gragnani each posted two assists for Portland, which saw its five-game points streak (4-0-0-1) come to an end.
HERSHEY 6, BRIDGEPORT 4
Hershey outscored Bridgeport 3-2 in the opening period and then outlasted the struggling Sound Tigers for a 6-4 victory on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 10,742 fans at the Giant Center.
Boyd Kane paced the Bears’ offensive attack with two goals, two assists, and a plus-5 rating. Steve Pinizzotto also scored twice and added an assist, and Hershey also received strikes from Joel Rechlicz and defenseman Patrick McNeill.
Bears goaltender Braden Holtby, who recently missed several games due to injury, only had to make 15 saves to pick up his first win since posting a 24-save shutout of Charlotte on Jan. 29.
PROVIDENCE 5, CONNECTICUT 4 (SO)
Providence rookie Maxime Sauve tallied the lone shootout goal for either side as the Bruins earned a 5-4 victory over Connecticut on Saturday night at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.
Attendance for the Harvest-Properties.com Whale Bowl was announced as 21,673, the largest single-game crowd in American Hockey League history.
The host Whale were on their way to a regulation victory before Bruins forward Jamie Arniel netted his team-leading 16th goal of the season unassisted at 13:52 of the third period. Arniel added a pair of assists for Providence, which has now earned back-to-back shootout wins to begin the weekend.
Sauve, Jeremy Reich, and Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman also scored for the Bruins, and Zach Hamill chipped in two assists. Providence goaltender Michael Hutchinson earned the win with 28 saves on 32 shots through the first 65 minutes before denying all five of Connecticut’s shootout bids.
The Whale’s three-game winning streak came to an end, but Connecticut remains three points up on Worcester for the Atlantic Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
CHARLOTTE 3, ADIRONDACK 2 (SO)
Charlotte forward Matthew Pistilli tied the game with just 28 seconds left in regulation, and the Checkers went on to stun Adirondack with a 3-2 shootout win on Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Pistilli, who earned an assist on a first-period goal by Chris Terry, registered just his second AHL marker of the season. Terry picked up the lone helper on the play.
After a scoreless overtime, the Checkers got shootout conversion from Drayson Bowman, Jacob Micflikier, and Zach Boychuk. Goaltender Mike Murphy (16-9-2), who made 37 saves through regulation and overtime, turned aside five of seven in the shootout.
The victory allowed Charlotte (31-20-2-4) to snap a mini two-game losing skid and move two points up on Norfolk and Binghamton for third place in the East Division race.
BINGHAMTON 4, ALBANY 3 (OT)
Mike Hoffman scored with less than a second left in the overtime period, lifting red-hot Binghamton to a thrilling 4-3 win over visiting Albany on Saturday at the Broome County Arena.
Corey Locke and Ryan Keller earned assists on Hoffman’s goal, which came on the power play and sent the Senators to their sixth consecutive win. At 30-20-3-3 overall, Binghamton moved into a tie with Norfolk for fourth place in the East Division, just two points back of third-place Charlotte.
Defenseman Patrick Wiercioch recorded a goal and an assist for the Senators, and Roman Wick (power play) and Kaspars Daugavins (shorthanded) also scored as Binghamton constructed a 3-1 lead by the game’s midpoint.
Senators goaltender Barry Brust (21-12-1) stopped 42 of 45 shots between the pipes, topping the 40-save plateau for the sixth time in 35 appearances this season.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 2, NORFOLK 1 (SO)
Keven Veilleux and defenseman Andrew Hutchinson netted shootout goals as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton escaped Norfolk with a 2-1 victory over the Admirals at the Scope on Saturday night.
The Penguins earned a sweep of their two-game visit to southeastern Virginia and improved their league-leading record to 42-15-0-0 (84 points) in 57 games overall.
The teams played scoreless hockey for the better part of regulation before Ben Street put Wilkes-Barre on top with his eighth goal of the season at 14:43 of the third period. But Admirals forward Mike Angelidis earned his team a point when he tied it up with just 3.3 seconds left on the clock.
Penguins goaltender Brad Thiessen was denied his seventh shutout of the season but still picked up his 24th victory in 31 outings (24-5-0), making 26 saves through regulation and overtime before denying all four Norfolk shootout bids.
The Admirals, who are winless in three straight (0-2-0-1), dropped into a fourth-place tie with surging Binghamton in the East Division.
SYRACUSE 7, ROCHESTER 1
Syracuse, which entered the night ranked 28th in the AHL in offense (2.35), erupted for a season-high seven goals en route to a 7-1 win over in-state rival Rochester on Saturday at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
John Mitchell chipped in two assists, and 13 of Syracuse’s 18 skaters recorded at least one point in the rout. Goaltender Ray Emery made 37 saves on 38 shots to pick up the first victory in a Crunch uniform.
Syracuse halted a four-game losing skid during which it had totaled only four goals. On Saturday, the Crunch had reached four goals by 10:13 of the second period.
Chris Taylor tallied the lone goal for the Americans, whose season-high four-game winning streak came to a decisive conclusion.
TEXAS 3, CHICAGO 2
Texas registered a pair of specialty-team goals in the third period to steal a 3-2 win from host Chicago on Saturday in front of 10,721 fans at Allstate Arena.
The Stars trailed 2-1 entering the final 20 minutes, but Colton Sceviour netted an unassisted shorthanded goal just 1:32 into the frame to make it 2-2. Then, with 5:14 left in regulation, 2011 AHL All-Star Francis Wathier converted on the power play and provided the winning margin.
It marked the second goal of the game for Wathier, who initially gave the Stars a 1-0 lead when he scored only 36 seconds after the opening face-off.
Greg Rallo and Maxime Fortunus earned assists on the decisive goal. The third-period rally made a winner of rookie goaltender Richard Bachman, who finished with 42 saves on 44 shots and moved to 21-12-3 for the campaign.
Texas secured its second straight win and moved one point up on Peoria for the West Division’s fourth and final guaranteed playoff spot and into a tie with San Antonio for third place in the division.
MILWAUKEE 3, PEORIA 0
Rookie Jeremy Smith made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season as Milwaukee collected a 3-0 road win over Peoria on Saturday in front of 7,304 fans at Carver Arena.
Smith, who improved to 10-4-1 in 17 appearances this year, made six saves in the first period, eight in the second, and 10 more in a third period in which the Rivermen held a 10-6 shots advantage.
Milwaukee (31-14-2-7) earned its third straight victory and remained tied with Houston atop the West Division with 71 points, and the Admirals still hold a whopping five games in hand on the Aeros.
Peoria, which suffered its fourth shutout of the season but first on home ice, is now one point back of Texas for the West Division’s final guaranteed playoff spot.
HOUSTON 5, ROCKFORD 3
Chad Rau snapped a 3-3 tie with 9:57 gone in the third period, and Houston went on to post a 5-3 road win over Rockford on Saturday at the MetroCentre.
Defenseman Justin Falk recorded a goal and an assist for the Aeros, who also received tallies from rearguard Maxim Noreau, forward Jed Ortmeyer, and captain Jon DiSalvatore. Robbie Earl and Colton Gillies each chipped in two assists on the night.
Ortmeyer’s goal went into an empty net to seal the victory with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Houston goaltender Matt Hackett made 22 saves on 25 shots in net, helping the Aeros halt a three-game winless skid (0-2-0-1) during which they had totaled only three goals.
Houston (33-21-1-4) remains tied atop the West Division with Milwaukee, which still holds five games in hand.
MANITOBA 4, LAKE ERIE 2
Manitoba built a 4-0 lead after two periods and held off a late push by Lake Erie to claim a 4-2 win over the Monsters on Saturday in front of 14,775 fans at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
The Moose (30-20-1-5) earned a split of the teams’ two-game weekend set and pulled back into a tie with the Monsters for first place in the North Division at 66 points apiece. Manitoba still holds four games in hand on Lake Erie, and the clubs will not go head-to-head again this year.
Garth Murray (1-1-2), Alexandre Bolduc, Sergei Shirokov (1-1-2), and Mario Bliznak netted goals for the Moose, who scored twice in the first and second periods. Guillaume Desbiens and Kevin Clark each posted a pair of helpers in the victory.
Manitoba rookie goaltender Eddie Lack earned his 19th win of the season (19-13-3) with 27 saves on 29 shots between the pipes.
OKLAHOMA CITY 3, ABBOTSFORD 2 (OT)
Rookie forward Mark Arcobello scored 3:55 into overtime to lift Oklahoma City to a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Abbotsford on Saturday night at the Entertainment & Sports Centre.
Arcobello, who has recorded 7-13-20 in 33 games for Stockton of the ECHL this season, netted his second goal in as many nights for the Barons and sent Oklahoma City to its second straight win over the Heat. The Barons were coming off a 3-1 victory on Friday night in Calgary.
But Barons forward Brad Moran scored late in the opening period, and rookie Teemu Hartikainen tied it on the power play 1:34 into the third frame. Goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers earned an assist on Hartikainen’s marker.
Hartikainen then picked up the lone helper on Arcobello’s overtime tally as the Barons earned their third straight win overall and pulled into a tie with Peoria for the crossover playoff berth in the Western Conference.
Drouin-Deslauriers (9-9-2) finished with 34 saves on 36 shots for the night.