Saturday's Morning Skate 3/28

Saturday, March 28, 2015
The Phantoms and Penguins meet again in a late-season match up at the PPL Center tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are back in action tonight against East Division rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at home after last night's Phantoms Carnival at the PPL Center - an annual event for the team's season ticket holders.

Last night saw the race for the top spot in the division get more interesting as a loss by Hershey coupled with a win by W-B/Scranton narrowed the Pens' gap to within four points of the Bears with ten games remaining on each team's schedule.

The Phantoms are in near must-win mode to keep their playoff hopes (mathematically) alive - 11 points out of the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference with 12 games remaining including tonight's contest against the Penguins.

I'll be live from the PPL Center tonight with full coverage of the Penguins/Phantoms rivalry hockey match up. For the latest in-game updates of all tonight's game, follow along on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock_TCG (on the right hand column of this website for those not on Twitter).

I'll have a recap complete with post-game player reaction of the action here shortly after the game goes final.

News, notes around the AHL's Eastern Conference and a recap of last night's games in the East Division after the jump.

East Division Standings (through 3/27's games)

1. Hershey: 10 games remaining, 40-19-5-2 = 87 points
2. W-B/Scranton: 10 games remaining, 38-21-3-4 = 83 points
3. Lehigh Valley: 12 games remaining, 29-28-6-1 = 65 points
4. Binghamton: 10 games remaining, 28-30-7-1 = 64 points
5. Norfolk: 9 games remaining, 23-35-6-3 = 55 points

Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

*1. Manchester: 14 games remaining, 39-15-6-2 = 86 points
*2. Syracuse: 10 games remaining, 30-18-8-0 = 88 points
*3. Hershey: 10 games remaining, 40-19-5-2 = 87 points
4. W-B/Scranton: 10 games remaining, 38-21-3-4 = 83 points
5. Portland: 10 games remaining, 37-23-5-1 = 80 points
6. Hartford: 10 games remaining, 35-22-5-4 = 79 points
7. Providence: 9 games remaining, 35-23-7-2 = 79 points
8. Worcester: 12 games remaining, 35-23-4-2 = 76 points
9. Springfield: 9 games remaining, 34-26-7-0 = 75 points
10. Albany: 10 games remaining, 30-25-5-6 = 71 points
11. St. John's: 7 games remaining, 30-30-7-2 = 69 points
12. Lehigh Valley: 15 games remaining, 29-25-6-1 = 65 points 

Friday Night's Recaps
W-B/Scranton - 3 at Binghamton - 1  

In Binghamton, Matt Murray was 4:22 away from his 11th shutout on the season before Max McCormick got the BSens on the board late in the third period, but Murray stopped 25/26 and improved to 11-0-1 in his last 12 starts in a 3-1 win for the Penguins.

Jayson Megna's 20th goal of the season that came shorthanded late in the 1st period proved to be the game-winner, though the Pens jumped out to a 1-0 lead early on Scott Wilson's 16th of the season and held a 3-0 lead until late in the third with an insurance marker 11:37 into the final frame.

Scott Greenham stopped 24 of the 27 shots that came his way for the BSens, but the usually potent offense sputtered against one of the league's top defenses. The BSens remain home tonight to host Bridgeport, while the Penguins travel to Allentown to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (idle Friday).

Manchester - 6 at Hershey -3

In Hershey, the Bears were ahead 3-1 before the high-powered Monarchs offense rattled off five unanswered goals in a big 6-3 win for Manchester. Micheal Mersch started the comeback and registered a point on all but one of the Monarchs' goals with a five-point night (3G-2A) and his first multi-goal game and first pro hat trick all in one. A big night for the rookie formerly of the University of Wisconsin.

The Bears had a 3-1 lead with 6:51 left before the second intermission on a pair of power play goals from Jim O'Brien and a shorthanded marker from Chandler Stephenson, but Manchester turned it on late in the period scoring two goals to tie before rolling over the momentum in the third period.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 42 of the 48 shots Manchester fired on net in the loss, while Jean-Francois Berube stopped 21 of 24 shots to improve his record to 32-8-4 on the season. These two teams rematch tonight at Giant Center.

Albany - 4 at Norfolk 3 (OT)

In Norfolk, the Admirals rallied from down 3-1 to force overtime with 1.8 seconds left on Kevin Gagne's 2nd of the year before the Devils prevailed with less than 30 seconds left in the extra session on a game-winning goal from Joe Whitney.

Whitney paced the Devils offense with three points (2G-1A) and Scott Wedgewood picked up his 11th win of the season stopping 29 of 32 shots. Max Friberg also had a game-high three points (1G-2A) to lead Norfolk, while Jason LaBarbera stopped 31 of the 35 pucks that came his way in the loss.

These two teams rematch tonight at The Scope Arena in Norfolk.

Other Eastern Conference Scores

Providence - 0 at Hartford - 5
St. John's - 4 at Portland - 6
Worcester - 6 at Springfield - 3
Bridgeport - 3 at Syracuse - 4 

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Manchester at Hershey, 7:00 p.m. ET
Providence at Portland, 7:00 p.m. ET
Hartford at Springfield, 7:00 p.m. ET
Rochester at Syracuse, 7:00 p.m. ET
St. John's at Worcester, 7:00 p.m. ET
Bridgeport at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m. ET
W-B/Scranton at Lehigh Valley, 7:05 p.m. ET
Albany at Norfolk, 7:15 p.m. ET


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