I'll be completely honest when I say that sometimes hockey doesn't occupy my life entirely. Tonight, I had the privilege of attending the sneak preview of the new Paramount Studios-produced Ironman, and I have to say that it is one of the best comic-book-turned-movie adaptations in recent memory. I suggest going to see it as it was entertaining. However, this blog is not turning into Rotten Tomatoes, I can assure you. I'll stick with what I know best, and that's hockey. Since I've neglected the AHL, I'll be devoting this entire article to that league and the battle for the Calder Cup. There have been some excellent games thus far, and the teams are starting to fall off as the best rise to the top.
In the first Atlantic Division Semifinal, the Providence Bruins squared off against the Manchester Monarchs. The Bruins defeated the Monarchs in four games straight, but three of their victories came in overtime. In Game One, Providence won 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Pascal Pelletier. In Game Two, the Bruins won 2-0 over Manchester, backed by a Tuukka Rask shutout. In Game Three, Providence won 3-2 in overtime again, with the winner scored by Jeff Hoggan. Game Four also was won by Providence in overtime, again by a 3-2 margin. The winner in the series-clinching game came off the stick of Martins Karsums. Providence advances to the Atlantic Division Final with a sweep of the Monarchs.
In the second Atlantic Division Semifinal, the Hartford Wolfpack took on the Portland Pirates. In Game One, Hartford used two third period goals to defeat Portland 3-1. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau had two goals for the Wolfpack. Game Two went to Portland by a 3-2 score in double overtime. Michal Birner scored the overtime winner. Game Three was won by Portland by a 3-2 score in regulation. Jason King scored the game-winning goal. Game Four was once again won by Portland. The 4-3 victory was secured by Stephen Dixon's game-winning goal. Game Five, and the series, was won by Portland after they recorded a 3-2 victory over Hartford. Brett Festerling scored the winner. Portland advances in five games, and will go to the Atlantic Division Final to face Providence.
In the first East Division Semifinal, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (WBS, from now on) faced off against the Hershey Bears. In Game One, WBS defeated Hershey in overtime by a 2-1 score, with the game-winner being scored by Chris Minard. Game Two was won by WBS by a 6-2 score. Tim Brent had a couple of goals, and blogger Ben Lovejoy had a couple of assists. Game Three saw WBS pick up another win by a score of 5-1. Alex Goligoski had three assists in the win, while Alain Nasreddine had a goal and an assist. Game Four saw Hershey pull out a 3-2 win in overtime over WBS. The game-winner was scored by Alexandre Giroux. Game Five, and the series, was won by WBS after a 7-3 victory. Tim Brent had two goals and two assists. The WBS Penguins win the series 4-1, and advance to the East Division Final.
In the second East Division Semifinal, the Philadelphia Phantoms matched up against the Albany River Rats. Game One went to Albany by a 4-0 score, backstopped by Michael Leighton's 29-save shutout. Game Two was won by Philadelphia by a 3-0 score, backed by a Scott Munroe 18-save shutout. Albany took Game Three with a 4-1 victory. Bryan Rodney picked up a couple of goals in the win. Game Four saw Philly earn a 2-1 victory. Kyle Greentree scored the game-winning goal.
And then we come to Game Five. Game Five between the Phantoms and River Rats set a new AHL record for the longest playoff game in AHL history as Phantoms won in the fifth overtime period by a 3-2 score. Philly outshot Albany 101-67 in the game. Michael Leighton made 98 saves. The game, which started at 7:01 PM EDT, ended at 12:39 AM EDT, running a total of five hours and thirty-eight minutes. Ryan Potulny finally ended it at the 2:58 mark of the eighth period. The worst part? The total attendance to see this game was only 1809. The rest of the people of Albany, New York missed a historical game.
From Game Five, we move to Game Six where the River Rats won the game 1-0 in overtime. Michael Leighton recorded 40 saves for his second shutout of the series. Game Seven went to Philly by a 2-0 score, giving them the series. Scott Munroe recorded his second shutout of the series with his 21-save performance. Philadelphia advances to the East Division Finals to face WBS after dispatching the River Rats in seven games.
In the first North Division Semifinal, the Toronto Marlies squared off against the West Division's San Antonio Rampage after they won the crossover by finishing with more points than the North Division's Hamilton Bulldogs. In Game One, Toronto won 4-3 on the strength of a Jiri Tlusty game-winning goal. Game Two went to the Rampage by a 6-3 score. Chad Kolarik recorded a hat trick in the victory. Game Three went to San Antonio as well as they defeated the Marlies 3-2. Bill Thomas scored the winner. Game Four saw the winner and loser flip-flopped as the Marlies won the game 3-2. Chris Harrington scored the game-winner in that one. Game Five saw Toronto win 2-1. John Mitchell recorded the game-winning goal. San Antonio won Game Six on the road by a 3-0 score. Josh Tordjman recorded the shutout with his 38-save performance. Game Seven, and the series, was won by Toronto after they posted a 2-1 victory in the deciding game. Veteran Bates Battaglia scored the game-and-series-winner. Toronto advances to the North Division Final by winning the series 4-3.
In the second North Division Semifinal, the Manitoba Moose faced off against the Syracuse Crunch. In Game One, Syracuse defeated Manitoba by a 2-1 score in overtime. Joakim Lindstrom scored the winner. Game Two went to the Moose as they won 3-2 in overtime. Mike Brown notched the winner in that one. Game Three saw Syracuse win 2-1 in overtime again. This time, Tom Sestito ended the game. Game Four saw Manitoba end it in regulation time with a 5-2 victory. Jason Jaffray paced the Moose with a goal and an assist. Game Five saw Syracuse win in overtime again by a 3-2 margin. Derek MacKenzie scored the overtime winner. Game Six also went to Syracuse by the same 3-2 overtime victory. Trevor Frischmon ended the game, and sent Manitoba home. Syracuse wins the series 4-2, and advances to the North Division Final against Toronto.
In the first West Division Final, the Chicago Wolves matched up against the Milwaukee Admirals. Game One saw Milwaukee pick up a 4-3 overtime victory as Cal O'Reilly scored the winner. Game Two went to Chicago by a 2-1 score where Jesse Schultz scored the game-winner. Chicago turned the tables on Milwaukee in Game Three by winning the game 4-3 in overtime. Captain Darren Haydar notched the winner for the Wolves. Game Four saw Milwaukee rebound with a 2-0 win. Pekke Rinne recorded the 37-save shutout. Game Five was a 4-1 win for Chicago. Jason Krog had two assists in the win. Game Six was also won by Chicago as they shutout the Admirals 3-0. Ondrej Pavelec picked up the 30-save shutout to help Chicago win the series. Chicago advances to the West Division Final after defeating Milwaukee 4-2.
In the second West Division Final, the Rockford IceHogs took to the ice against the Houston Aeros. Game One saw Rockford defeat Houston 3-1. Martin St. Pierre had a goal and an assist for the IceHogs. Houston won Game Two in double overtime by a 1-0 score. Barry Brust picked up the 30-save shutout while teammate Ryan Jones scored the only goal. Rockford came back in Game Three, winning 2-1 in regulation time. Derek Nesbitt scored the winner. Game Four saw Rockford duplicate their efforts in Game Three, winning this game by a 2-1 score again. Kris Versteeg had the winner in this one. Game Five also went to Rockford as they defeated Houston 5-2. Rockford had a couple of shorthanded goals in this game - Kris Versteeg with the first, and Jake Dowell with the second. Rockford advances to the West Division Final after defeating Houston 4-1.
The only series that has begun in Round Two thus far is the Providence-Portland series. Providence has a 2-0 lead after posting wins of 4-0 and 7-1.
That is what has been happening in the AHL so far. More updates will follow so be sure to head back here for your AHL Calder Cup info!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!