ROCHESTER 3, GRAND RAPIDS 0
Rookie Evgeny Dadonov netted a pair of goals and Tyler Plante pitched a 37-save shutout as Rochester clinched a spot in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 3-0 road win over Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday.
The AHL’s second-oldest franchise, the Americans last won the championship in 1996 and will return to the playoffs following a two-year absence.
Chris Taylor began the night’s scoring with a power play goal 14:37 into the first period and then assisted on Dadonov’s pair of markers, both of which came in the second frame.
Dadonov, whose had only one prior two-goal game this season, scored at 11:09 and 15:59 of the second period. Graham Mink, who assisted on Taylor’s marker, also picked up an assist on Dadonov’s second goal for a multiple-point showing.
Plante collected his third shutout of the season and his 10th victory (10-11-1), turning aside 13 shots in the first and third periods, and 11 in the second.
The Griffins, who were blanked for the fifth time this season, remain nine points out of a playoff spot in the North Division.
MANCHESTER 4, LOWELL 3
Manchester fell into an early 2-0 hole but rattled off four straight goals and came away with a 4-3 road win over Lowell at Tsongas Center on Wednesday.
The Devils converted two of their first three shots on the night. Brad Mills put the Devils on top just 49 seconds after the opening face-off, and Patrick Davis made it 2-0 at 5:33, chasing Monarchs starting goaltender Jeff Zatkoff.
David Kolomatis cut Manchester’s deficit in half before the first period was out, and John Zeiler notched the equalizer midway through the second. Trevor Lewis gave Manchester the lead for good with an unassisted power play strike 4:19 into the third frame, and Zeiler provided insurance at 7:39.
Zeiler’s goal proved decisive when Matt Halischuk scored unassisted for the Devils only 1:34 later.
Manchester netminder Matt Lopes – signed to a tryout agreement earlier in the day – had a pro debut to remember, stopping 42 saves on 43 shots to pick up the win in relief.
The Monarchs collected their fifth straight victory and moved seven points up on Bridgeport and Lowell for third place in the Atlantic Division.
HERSHEY 5, SYRACUSE 2
Hershey grabbed a 3-0 lead by the game’s mid-point and cruised to a 5-2 road win over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
With their 57th victory of the year (57-14-0-3), the Bears tied the AHL record for wins in a single regular season, previously accomplished by the 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers. Hershey still has six games left to eclipse the mark.
Hershey collected its fourth straight win overall and moved to 13-2-0-1 in its last 16 outings.
Alexandre Giroux netted his league-leading 43rd and 44th goals of the season for the Bears, while Boyd Kane, Steve Pinizzotto, and Cody Eakin rounded out the offense. Eakin, an 18-year-old third-round draft pick by Washington in 2009, scored in his professional debut.
WORCESTER 5, HARTFORD 3
Rookie forward John McCarthy scored twice and added an assist as Worcester claimed a 5-3 road win over Hartford on Wednesday.
The two goals and three points both marked season highs for McCarthy, while the Sharks earned their second straight victory over Hartford after dropping the teams’ first four meetings of the season.
Sharks goaltender Frank Doyle earned the victory with 27 saves between the pipes.
The Sharks moved to 10-2-0-0 in their last 12 games and clinched no worse than second place in the Atlantic Division, ensuring them home-ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Worcester sits five points up on Portland for first place in the division.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 3, ADIRONDACK 2
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continued its push toward a postseason spot with a 3-2 win over visiting Adirondack at Mohegan Sun Arena on Wednesday.
The Penguins halted a brief two-game losing skid and moved five points clear of Norfolk for the East Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot with fives games to play.
CHICAGO 4, HOUSTON 0
Chicago goaltender Peter Mannino posted a 32-save shutout as the Wolves moved closer to the West Division title with a 4-0 road win over Houston at the Toyota Center on Wednesday.
With his second shutout, Mannino improved to a remarkable 24-3-1 this season for the Wolves, who reduced to five their magic number to claim a second division crown in the last three seasons.
It marked Chicago’s third consecutive game which ended in a shutout, following a 3-0 win at Rockford on Saturday and a 5-0 loss to Texas on Sunday.
The Aeros, who have fallen out of the playoff picture amidst a 3-11-1-4 skid, will host Chicago again on Friday night.
TEXAS 3, MILWAUKEE 2 (SO)
Rookie Travis Morin’s fourth-round shootout conversion lifted Texas to a 3-2 road win over Milwaukee at the Bradley Center on Wednesday.
Fellow rookie Colton Sceviour also scored in the shootout for the Stars, as did Aaron Gagnon. Texas goaltender Matt Climie denied three of Milwaukee’s five tries after making 27 saves through regulation and overtime.
Gagnon staked Texas to a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal 6:39 into the contest, but the Admirals grabbed a 2-1 edge on second-period markers by Dave Scatchard (shorthanded) and rookie Jonathan Blum.
Gagnon then tied it back up for the Stars with 6:51 left to play in regulation, tallying his team-leading 26th goal of the season.
With their fourth straight victory and eighth in nine games (8-1-0-0), the Stars remained six points back of Chicago for first place in the West Division.
The Admirals earned a point with the shootout loss and moved four points up on idle Peoria for the division’s fourth and final playoff entry.