April 17, 2014 - Central Hockey League (CHL)
GLENDALE, AZ (April 17, 2014) - The CHL's Ray Miron Presidents' Cup Conference Finals are set with the four teams determined that will compete for right to play in the Presidents' Cup Finals. The final four consists of the Denver Cutthroats, the Allen Americans, the Quad City Mallards and the Arizona Sundogs.
The highest remaining seed is the Cutthroats (#2 seed) who earned their way to the Conference Finals with a four games to two series win over the Tulsa Oilers. Forward A.J. Gale paced the team in scoring in the Opening Round with two goals and eight assists (10 points, most in the CHL playoffs by any skater).
Denver will play the Cinderella story Sundogs in the next round after Arizona became the first eight seed to knock off the top seed when they dismissed the Bud Poile Governors' Cup winning Missouri Mavericks four games to two in the Opening Round. Arizona was led by David Rutherford's nine points (2-7=9) in the first round of the playoffs.
During the regular season, the Sundogs won seven of the 11 head-to-head match-ups but it was a very close series with seven of the contests being decided by one goal and four games needing to be decided in overtime or a shootout. CHL Most Valuable Player Garett Bembridge was the top scorer in the series with seven goals and 11 assists (18 points) in the 11 games he played. Arizona's Andrew Engelage, the CHL's Most Outstanding Goaltender recipient, went 6-2 with a 2.34 goals against average and a.931 save percentage against Denver.
The series will be a 2-2-1-1-1 format with the first two games in Denver on Friday and Saturday. Arizona's first home game of the series will be Tuesday, April 22..
Conference Finals (best-of-7)
Denver Cutthroats (2) vs. Arizona Sundogs (8)
Game 1 - Fri., Apr. 18 - Arizona at Denver, 7:00
Game 2 - Sat., Apr. 19 - Arizona at Denver, 6:00
Game 3 - Tue., Apr. 22 - Denver at Arizona, 6:35
Game 4 - Wed., Apr. 23 - Denver at Arizona, 6:35
Game 5 - Sat., Apr. 26 - Arizona at Denver, 6:00
Game 6 - Tue., Apr. 29 - Denver at Arizona, 6:35
Game 7 - Thu., May 1 - Arizona at Denver, 7:00
The other Conference Finals pairing pits the defending Presidents' Cup Champion Allen Americans (the #3 seed) against the Quad City Mallards (#5 seed).
The Americans disposed of their opposition the quickest in the Opening Round needing just five games to defeat the Brampton Beast. Greger Hanson averaged nearly two points a game in the first round finishing with four goals and five assists (nine points). Allen goalie Bryan Pitton was the best netminder in the Opening Round going 4-1 with a 2.01 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.
Allen's opponent, the Mallards are fresh off their Game 7 win on Wednesday night in the Opening Round. Thomas Heemskerk went 3-1 in the series with a 1.92 goals against average.
The Americans and Mallards split four games during the regular season with each team winning once on the other's home ice. Jamie Schaafsma and Alex Lavoie each had six points leading the way for Allen and Matt Duffy and Vladimir Nikiforov each had four points pacing the Flock.
The series begins on Friday in Allen and will be a 2-3-2 format. The entire series schedule is as follows:
Conference Finals (best-of-7)
Allen Americans (3) vs. Quad City Mallards(5)
Game 1 - Fri., Apr. 18 - Quad City at Allen, 7:05
Game 2 - Sun., Apr. 20 - Quad City at Allen, 5:05
Game 3 - Wed., Apr. 23 - Allen at Quad City, 7:05
Game 4 - Fri., Apr.25 - Allen at Quad City, 7:05
*Game 5 - Sat., Apr. 26 - Allen at Quad City, 7:05
*Game 6 - Tue., Apr. 29 - Quad City at Allen, 7:05
*Game 7 - Wed., Apr. 30 - Quad City at Allen, 7:05
The Americans and Sundogs will all be going for their second franchise championships while the Cutthroats will be aiming for their first title in just their second season. The Mallards have won three titles, all in a different league, but are competing for their first CHL crown.