Today in the "A": Calder Cup Playoffs
Today in the A, it's time for my Tuesday look at the Calder Cup playoffs. Last week, three of the conference semi finals had been decided and we were waiting on the Houston Aeros (MIN) Game 7 against the Milwaukee Admirals (NSH). The Aeros prevailed by a score of 4-2 on Milwaukee's home ice to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
The Binghamton Senators (OTT) continue to be the hottest team in the AHL. Although they made it in to the post season in the last Eastern Conference playoff position, the baby Sens have taken full advantage, sending Atlantic Division champion Portland and runner up Manchester home for the summer in successive series.
The Conference finals got underway last Thursday in Charlotte, NC, when the Sens met the Charlotte Checkers (CAR). The Senators, riding the wave with former Springfield Falcon, Ryan Potulny leading the way. Through 15 playoff games this season, Potulny has 13 goals and 9 assists for 22 points, leading all AHL playoff scorers. The Senators took Thursday's opener by a score of 7-4 and Friday night's rematch by a 3-0 margin, when goaltender Robin Lehner posted his second playoff shutout of the season. Games 3, 4 and 5 are slated for the Broome County Arena in Binghamton with the Senators holding a commanding 2-0 series lead.
In the Western Conference, after two grueling seven game series to get there, the Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL) squared off against the Houston Aeros.
Home ice was definitely an advantage for the Aeros as they capitalized and broke out of the gates with a 2-0 series lead, winning Game 1 by a 2-1 score and Game 2 by a 3-2 margin. Games 3, 4 and 5 head north of the border to the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, ONT where the Bulldogs desperately need to get in the win column.
Colton Gillies of the Aeros has led the way offensively for Houston, collecting seven goals in his first 13 playoff games. Standing tall in goal has been Matt Hackett. Hackett has gone 10-3 with a 2.18 GAA and a .909 save percentage for the Aeros.
Hackett's counterpart for Hamilton is Drew MacIntyre. While his playoff record is 8-7, in 15 games his GAA is a fine 1.74, with an equally impressive .935 save percentage.
Both series resume tonight.