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2012 Calder Cup Conference Quarterfinal Previews

April 19, 2012 - American Hockey League (AHL)

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal - Series "A"

1-Norfolk Admirals vs. 8-Manchester Monarchs

SERIES NOTEBOOK: Norfolk and Manchester meet for the first time all season in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals... The Monarchs are in the same position as their NHL parent club, the Los Angeles Kings - entering the playoffs as the #8 seed and facing the regular-season points champion in round one... Manchester went 10-4-2-0 in its final 16 games, qualifying for the postseason by sweeping Connecticut, Hershey and St. John's over the last weekend of the campaign... Norfolk won 28 consecutive games to finish the regular season, obliterating the previous longest winning streak in AHL history (17)... The Admirals allowed two goals or fewer in 23 of the 28 games and were extended past regulation only twice... Norfolk's Cory Conacher (39-41-80) was selected as the AHL's MVP and rookie of the year, becoming just the fourth player in league history to win both honors in the same season... Conacher also clinched the goal-scoring title with a hat trick on the last day of the season... Norfolk's top five scorers in the regular season included three rookies and one second-year pro: Eddie Shore Award winner Mark Barberio (13-48-61)... Dustin Tokarski (32-11-0, 2.23, .913) led the league in victories, winning his last 13 starts... Justin Azevedo (28-22-50) led the Monarchs in scoring this season, and is second on the franchise's all-time playoff scoring list with 6-13-19 in 23 postseason games... Linden Vey (19-24-43) had a solid rookie season for the Monarchs after leading the WHL in scoring with 116 points last season - one better than current Norfolk rookie Tyler Johnson... Manchester has reached the Calder Cup Playoffs nine times previously, reaching the conference finals in 2007 and 2010 but losing in the first round the other seven times... Norfolk has lost five consecutive playoff series since sweeping Binghamton in a best-of-three qualifier in 2004.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal - Series "B"

2-St. John's IceCaps vs. 7-Syracuse Crunch

SERIES NOTEBOOK: Syracuse returns to the Calder Cup Playoffs after a three-year absence and meets St. John's, which won the Atlantic Division title in its first season of play... The Crunch finished the regular season on a 15-3-1-1 roll, including two wins over the IceCaps in that span... Patrick Maroon scored 32 goals and led Syracuse in assists (42), points (74) and plus/minus (+17) in 2011-12... Kyle Palmieri scored 33 goals in 51 AHL games... Riley Holzapfel had 8-7-15 in 29 games with St. John's this season before joining Syracuse, where he put up 8-14-22 in 28 outings... Spencer Machacek, who had 7-4-11 in 13 playoff games for Chicago in 2010, led the IceCaps with 18-32-50 in 61 games this season... St. John's forward Raymond Sawada reached the Calder Cup Finals with Manitoba in 2009 and again with Texas in 2010... Eddie Pasquale earned a spot on the 2012 AHL All-Rookie Team, going 23-12-1 with four shutouts (2.41, .911) for the IceCaps... St. John's, which ranked third in the AHL on the power play in the regular season, was 9-for-20 (45.0 percent) in four games vs. Syracuse.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal - Series "C"

3-Bridgeport Sound Tigers vs. 6-Connecticut Whale

SERIES NOTEBOOK: This is the first postseason meeting between Bridgeport and Connecticut, who have been in-state rivals since 2001... The Sound Tigers won nine of their last 11 games to hold off the Whale and win the Northeast Division, grabbing the third seed in the conference... Rhett Rakhshani tallied 7-8-15 over his last 10 games for Bridgeport, and led the team in scoring with 20-29-49 despite playing just 49 games... Casey Cizikas had 15-30-45 and tied for the AHL rookie lead with a plus-26 rating in 52 games for the Sound Tigers... Forwards Kris Newbury (25-39-64) and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (24-40-64) shared the team scoring lead for Connecticut, and were also the top two scorers in the season series with Bridgeport... Head coaches Brent Thompson (Bridgeport) and Ken Gernander (Connecticut) were teammates in Hartford from 1997-99... Both teams earned points in eight of the 10 regular- season games between the clubs in 2011-12, and the home team won the last nine meetings... Bridgeport and Connecticut have both lost five consecutive playoff series; the Sound Tigers have not won since sweeping a best-of- five from Manchester in 2003, while the Whale last won a series in 2006, also vs. the Monarchs.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal - Series "D"

4-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. 5-Hershey Bears

SERIES NOTEBOOK: It's a rite of spring as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey meet up in a playoff series for the fifth time in the last seven years and the sixth time overall... In each of their five previous meetings, the series winner has gone on to reach the Calder Cup Finals (WBS in 2001 and 2008, Hershey in 2006, 2007 and 2009)... Ben Street (27-30-57), Bryan Lerg (27-26-53) and Colin McDonald (14-35-49) were the Penguins' top three scorers overall for 2011-12 and in the season series with Hershey... Brad Thiessen won three of his four starts to close the regular season after returning to Wilkes-Barre from Pittsburgh... Chris Bourque, the third Hershey skater to win the AHL scoring title in the last four years, posted 27-66-93 in 73 games for the Bears... Ryan Potulny led the AHL in playoff scoring in 2011, notching 14-12-26 in 23 games for champion Binghamton... Hershey forward Jacob Micflikier was a member of the Charlotte team that eliminated both the Bears and the Penguins from the playoffs last spring... Hershey has won 15 of 18 playoff series since becoming Washington's top affiliate in 2005.

Western Conference Quarterfinal - Series "E"

1-Oklahoma City Barons vs. 8-Houston Aeros

SERIES NOTEBOOK: After qualifying for the playoffs with a win in the 1,140th and final game of the AHL season, Houston draws top- seeded Oklahoma City in the conference quarterfinals... After losing nine of 10 to the Aeros last season, the Barons dominated the season series in 2011-12, going 7-0-0-1 and outscoring Houston by a 26-12 margin... Ryan Keller, who captained Binghamton to the Calder Cup title with a Finals win over the Aeros last spring, led Oklahoma City in assists (28), points (49) and plus/minus (+22) this season... Yann Danis (26-14-2, 2.07, .924), who won the Baz Bastien Award as the AHL's outstanding goaltender in 2011-12, played all eight games vs. Houston and allowed a total of 11 goals... Barons defenseman Bryan Helmer, a three-time Calder Cup champion (Albany 1995, Hershey 2009 and 2010), has played more playoff games (144) than any player in AHL history... Houston captain Jon DiSalvatore led his club with 28 goals and 61 points while playing in all 76 games... Matt Hackett (20-17-6, 2.38, .917) tied an AHL record for a goaltender by appearing in 24 playoff games last postseason... Aeros rookie Justin Fontaine (16-39-55) won an NCAA championship at Minnesota-Duluth last year.

Western Conference Quarterfinal - Series "F"

2-Toronto Marlies vs. 7-Rochester Americans

SERIES NOTEBOOK: Back in the postseason for the first time since 2009, Toronto meets up with Rochester, which hasn't won a playoff series since reaching the second round in 2005... The Marlies finished third overall in the AHL with 96 points in the regular season, and led the league in goals allowed (175) and penalty-killing efficiency (88.1 percent)... Mike Zigomanis, who was a member of Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup championship team in 2009, led Toronto in scoring with 19-42-61, his most points in a season over an 11-year pro career... Nazem Kadri finished with 18-22-40 in 48 AHL games on the year... Ben Scrivens (22-15-1) led the AHL with a 2.07 GAA... After starting his rookie season with 0-6- 6 in his first 23 games, Phil Varone went on to post 11-35-46 over his last 53 contests and finished as Rochester's leading scorer... David Leggio started each of the Amerks' last 23 games in net to close the regular season... All 10 regular-season meetings between Toronto and Rochester were decided by a single goal... The Marlies are 16-3-0-2 in their last 21 visits to Rochester... This is the Americans' fifth consecutive series vs. a Canadian-based opponent.

Western Conference Quarterfinal - Series "F"

3-Chicago Wolves vs. 6-San Antonio Rampage

SERIES NOTEBOOK: After sweeping the regular-season series with four one-goal wins over Chicago, San Antonio draws the Wolves in the first round of the playoffs... The Rampage have never won a playoff series, losing in three straight to Norfolk in 2003 and falling in a Game 7 to Toronto in 2008... After beginning the season in Charlotte, Jon Matsumoto finished at the top of San Antonio's scoring page with 23-37-60 in 76 total games... Bill Thomas (27-25-52), Bracken Kearns (22-30-52) and Greg Rallo (22-20-42) also cracked the 20-goal mark for the Rampage... In their first season as Vancouver's top affiliate, the Wolves won the franchise's fourth division title in the last eight years... Eddie Lack had a .932 save percentage in 12 playoff games for Manitoba last season, including a 55-save effort in a triple- overtime Game 7 loss to Hamilton in the second round... A Calder Cup champion with Milwaukee in 2004 and Chicago in 2008, Darren Haydar is the AHL's career leader in playoff goals (59), assists (76) and points (135)... In his last trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs, Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish tallied 5-4-9 in seven games for the Springfield Indians as a 22-year-old in 1981... Chicago is playing as the higher seed for the 14th consecutive series.

Western Conference Quarterfinal - Series "G"

4-Abbotsford Heat vs. 5-Milwaukee Admirals

SERIES NOTEBOOK: Milwaukee begins its 10th consecutive postseason (tied with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the longest active streak in the AHL) by taking on Abbotsford in the conference quarterfinals... The Heat ended the regular season with seven straight wins and a 10-1-0-2 mark in their last 13 games, while the Admirals went 9-2-0-3 in their last 14 to clinch a playoff spot on the final day of the season... Krys Kolanos notched 11-7-18 in his last eight games for Abbotsford and finished the year with 30-31-61 and a plus-20 rating in just 47 contests... Hugh Jessiman, who had back-to- back 20-goal seasons for Milwaukee from 2008-10, set a career high with 27 goals this season and totaled 7-12-19 in 24 contests after joining the Heat from Lake Erie... Chris Mueller led the Admirals with 32-28-60, including eight game-winning goals (three in OT)... Jeremy Smith was 31-19-2 with five shutouts on the season, ranking second in the AHL in wins, fourth in GAA (2.17) and first in minutes played.

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American Hockey League Stories from April 19, 2012


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