Today in the "A": Calder Cup Playoffs

Today in the A, it's time to revisit the Calder Cup playoffs. Last week, in a brief overview of first and second round pairings, I alluded to some upsets in the making in the Eastern Conference. At that time, both Binghamton (OTT) and Charlotte (CAR) led their respective series.

EASTERN CONFERENCE:
The Binghamton Senators did in fact capture their series against the Portland Pirates (BUF). Portland won Game 5 convincingly 6-2 on the road last Tuesday night. Friday night, the scene shifted back to Portland, ME where the Pirates would have home ice for games six and seven. Jim O'Brien found the back of the net just 25 seconds into Game 6, and Baby Sens' rookie netminder Robin Lehner turned aside all 36 shots that came his way as the Senators pulled off the improbable series victory with a 3-0 blanking of the Pirates.

In the other conference semi-final, the Charlotte Checkers and the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) traded 1-0 shutout wins last Wednesday and Friday. This left the Checkers one win away, with the final two games of the series scheduled for the Penguins' home ice. Game six took place on Saturday night. The Pens took a 3-0 lead early in the third period when the Checkers erupted for four unanswered goals in just over nine minutes to chalk up a shocking 4-3 road win. The first year Checkers won the series 4-2.

The Eastern Conference finals are now set with Binghamton taking on Charlotte. The series begins Thursday night in Charlotte, NC.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Last night, the Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL) met the Manitoba Moose (VAN) in game seven. Nearly four hours after the opening faceoff, Dustin Boyd scored the series winning goal six seconds into a third overtime period, sending the Bulldogs to the conference finals.  According to the AHL, this was the 17th Game 7 that went into overtime, but the first to go to a second extra session, let alone a third. The Bulldogs will take on the winner of the other Western Conference semi-final.

In the remaining series, the Houston Aeros (MIN) have battled the Milwaukee Admirals (NSH) through six games, with the series knotted at three wins each. Game seven is scheduled for tonight in Milwaukee. This is another series that displays the grit and determination that make the AHL so enjoyable. The last three games in this series have all gone into overtime. Houston took Games 4 and 5 in OT on their home ice. The Aeros had to feel good about going into OT on Sunday night in Milwaukee as they had notched the game winner in each of their previous eleven (yes, eleven!) postseason overtime games. The Admirals broke that streak, setting up tonight's Game 7.


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