Saturday's Morning Skate 4/9

Saturday, April 9, 2016
Phantoms flying high in final weeks of the season. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News.
There are only five games remaining for the eight teams in the Atlantic Division, and while the Springfield Falcons and Lehigh Valley Phantoms have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention the remaining six teams are battling for looks to be five spots.

Despite being out of the postseason race, the Phantoms have now won five straight games - including last night's win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins that has for the time being prevented them from clinching their spot in the postseason. The Phantoms hope to play the role of spoiler this weekend in a home-and-home series against the team currently in the final playoff spot in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

There are no easy games at this time of the year. Guys are playing for contracts for next season, for a final impression before the off-season as well as some highly regarded prospects coming in late to get their first taste of pro hockey and make a good first impression.

Atlantic Division Standings (through 4/1's games)

1. x - Hershey: 71GP (5 remaining), 40-19-5-7 = 92 points (.648 PCT)
2. W-B/Scranton: 71GP (5 remaining), 41-25-4-1 = 87 points (.613 PCT)
3. Portland: 71GP (5 remaining), 39-25-5-2 = 85 points (.599 PCT)
4. Providence: 71GP (5 remaining), 36-22-9-4 = 85 points (.599 PCT)
5. Bridgeport: 71GP (5 remaining), 38-26-4-3 = 83 points (.585 PCT)
6. Hartford: 71GP (5 remaining), 38-30-3-0 = 79 points (.556 PCT)
7. Lehigh Valley: 71GP (5 remaining), 32-32-4-3 = 71 points (.500 PCT)
8. Springfield: 71GP (5 remaining), 25-38-3-5 = 58 points (.408 PCT)

Around The Atlantic

Lehigh Valley - 4 at W-B/Scranton - 0

Lehigh Valley extended their season-high winning streak to five games following a 4-0 shutout win over rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday night.

Adam Comrie notched his first career pro hat trick, Martin Ouellette (40 saves) picked up his second consecutive and extended his shutout streak to 145:10 in the win for the Phantoms which saw promising prospects Travis Sanheim and Nicolas Aube-Kubel make their highly anticipated pro debuts.

Tristan Jarry stopped 18 of 22 in the loss for the Penguins in his 11th straight start, which saw the Pens squander another chance to secure their spot in the postseason.

The Phantoms head back to Allentown to begin a home-and-home series with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday night, while the Penguins head to Hershey to begin a similar home-and-home series with the Bears.

Bridgeport - 1 at Hershey - 5

At Giant Center, the Bears scored early and often in a 5-1 rout of the Sound Tigers, using a balanced scoring attack and a total team effort to get the win.

Five different players scored goals for Hershey, while Aaron Ness led the way offensively with a game-high three points (one goal, two assists). Dan Ellis stopped all but one of the 26 shots he faced to pick up his 25th win of the season for the Bears in a win that has them one win away from clinching the Atlantic Division title.

Mike Halmo ended Hershey's shutout bid with 2:51 left in regulation on his 21st of the season, but that was the offense Bridgeport could muster up. Stephon Williams surrendered five goals on 24 shots in the loss for the Sound Tigers.

The Sound Tigers look to rebound Saturday night in Allentown against a red-hot Phantoms team, while Hershey remains home with a chance to put a stranglehold on the Atlantic Division with a home-and-home series with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Hartford - 7 at Springfield - 3

In another lopsided tilt, the Hartford Wolf Pack lay a beating on the Springfield Falcons Friday night to the tune of a 7-3 blowout.

Daniel Paille led Hartford with a game-high four points (two goals, two assists) and newcomer Cristoval Nieves is having continued success right away with three points (two goals, one assist) in his third career AHL game to pace the Wolf Pack, who are desperately trying to chase Bridgeport for the final playoff spot.

Michael Bunting and Henrik Samuelsson tallied a goal and an assist each for the Falcons in the loss, while Nicklas Truetle surrendered seven goals on 32 shots.

These two teams rematch again tomorrow, but switch venues and Hartford will host Springfield.

Portland - 3 at Providence - 2

The Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a pair of goals in the first period and another in the second period before holding off the PBruins' third period rally.

Wayne Simpson and Corban Knight tallied a goal and an assist each for Portland, while veteran goaltender Mike McKenna stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced to secure his 32nd win of the season.

Providence tallied two goals in the third period to make it interesting, including Austin Czarnik's extra attacker goal in the final minute of regulation to make it a one-goal game. Unfortunately for the PBruins, they came up short Friday night. Jeremy Smith was pulled in favor of Zane McIntyre after allowing three goals on 21 shots in 28:56 of work. McIntyre stopped all 15 shots he faced in relief.

These two teams rematch again tomorrow, but switch venues and Portland will host Providence.

Other Eastern Conference Scores

Albany - 4 at Syracuse - 3 (SO)
Lake Erie - 3 at Toronto - 4 (OT)
Binghamton - 3 at Rochester - 1

Saturday's Eastern Conference Schedule

Utica at St. John's - 6:00 p.m. ET
Springfield at Hartford - 7:00 p.m. ET
W-B/Scranton at Hershey - 7:00 p.m. ET
Providence at Portland - 7:00 p.m. ET
Toronto at Syracuse - 7:00 p.m. ET
Albany at Binghamton - 7:05 p.m. ET
Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET


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