Thursday, May 13, 2010

AHL Calder Cup Western Conference Final Preview

Here's the AHL's Western Conference Preview as the Texas Stars took down the Chicago Wolves in a tough, back-and-fourth 7 game series to continue their strong first season in the AHL. In their way of a shot of a Calder Cup Title is the Hamilton Bulldogs who knocked out a tough Abbotsford Heat Team which was being called as one of the most dangerous underdog teams in this AHL Playoffs.

The Series gets underway tomorrow in Hamilton, Ontario at Copps Coliseum as the battle will pit the Lone Star State vs. Canada for the 2nd straight year in the AHL Conference Finals. Last year, it was the Houston Aeros VS. the Manitoba Moose as Manitoba eventually won the series and lost to the Hershey Bears in 6 games.

Hershey is looking to defend their title this year. They currently playing the Manchester Monarchs in the Eastern Conference Final which got underway last night.

Last night, the Bears won Game 1 4-2 in Penn. last night. With the Stanley Cup & Calder Cup now entering the Conference Finals. Expect to look for full recaps and boxscores for every game until both leagues crown their champions.

The Junior Scene is entering their final event of the season as the Memorial Cup gets underway tomorrow as the Brandon Wheat Kings will play the defending champion Windsor Spitfires from Brandon, Manitoba.

From the American Hockey League Website:

The puck will drop from the Copps Coliseum on Friday Night with the Hamilton Bulldogs meeting the Texas Stars for the American Hockey League Western Conference Championship.

The first year Stars earned a trip to the AHL's Final Four with a dramatic 6-5 victory in Chicago on Tuesday Night, rallying from 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4 down to advance on Jamie Benn's goal 4:57 into overtime. The 20 year old Benn, who notched 22 goals during the NHL Regular Season in Dallas during the regular season, is tied for 2nd in the entire AHL in playoff scoring with 15 points (8G 7A) in 11 games and tied with teammate Maxime Fortunus for the league lead with a +10.

Brent Krahn (7-3, 2.32 GAA, .928 SV%) started every playoff game for Texas before an injury in Game 6 against Chicago returned Matt Climie to the crease. Climie, who helped Houston to the Western Conference Finals last spring, had a 2.46 GAA and a .919 SV% in 42 regular season games for the Stars and the Game 7 win on Tuesday Night.

The Bulldogs are in the Conference Finals for the fourth time in nine years, tied with Hershey and Chicago for most appearances since the league's expansion in 2001, after the North Division champions finished off Abbotsford with a 4-0 win in Game 6 on Monday Night. Curtis Sanford (2-0, 1.00 GAA, .968 SV%) who along with Cedrick Desjardins (6-4, 2.62 GAA, .902 SV%) formed the top goaltending tandem in the AHL during the regular season, earned his first career playoff shutout in the series clincher.

Mike Glumac leads the Bulldogs with 8 postseason goals, Andre Benoit is first with 8 assists and David Desharnais is also atop the scoring page with 13 points as Hamilton has gotten offensive contributions from 19 different players during the playoffs so far.

Western Conference Final Schedule (All Start Times are CDT)

Game 1, 5/14: @ Hamilton 6:30 PM

Game 2, 5/16: @ Hamilton 1:00 PM

Game 3, 5/19: @ Texas 7:30 PM

Game 4, 5/21: @ Texas 7:30 PM

Game 5, 5/22: @ Texas 7:00 PM*

Game 6, 5/24: @ Hamilton 6:30 PM*

Game 7, 5/26: @ Hamilton 6:30 PM*

Series Notes:

The Western Conference Finals series is a battle of rookie AHL Head Coaches, with Louis A.R. Peri Award Winner Guy Boucher leading his Hamilton Bulldogs against Glen Guluztan's Texas Stars. The Bulldogs owned the AHL's top ranked defense in the regular season while the Texas Stars were tied for 2nd. Hamilton is vying for its fourth trip to the Calder Cup Finals (1997, 2003, 2007). Texas is the first AHL Team to reach the Conference Finals in their inaugural season since the Binghamton Senators in 2003. The Stars roster features three former Calder Cup Champions in Landon Wilson (1999), Andrew Hutchinson (2004), and Dan Jancevski (2007), who captured it with Hamilton in 2007. Hamilton enters the series with a 6-0 postseason record when Mike Glumac (8-2) scores a goal, and Texas is 6-0 when Jamie Benn (8G 7A) records a point. The Bulldogs are second in the AHL in a playoff penalty killing at home (92.9%) but last on the road (63.0%). Since a 5-0 home loss to Texas on 2/16. Hamilton is 26-7-3 overall and a 16-3-1 at Copps Coliseum.

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