A pretty neat gesture from the PHPA and the AHL: Ticket revenue from Wednesday’s Game 3 of the Western Conference Final will go toward relief for the OKC area, struck by tornadoes over two days last week.* There will be fundraisers at each game in Oklahoma this week.
And Oklahoma City will definitely see three games. Mark Arcobello had the game-winner at 7:45 of the third as the Barons evened up the series with the Griffins. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton won Game 1 in Syracuse; a goal for Trevor Smith, two big goals for Alex Grant, and, ho-hum, just 24 saves for Brad Thiessen.
Former Sound Tigers goalie Riley Gill was the playoff MVP as Reading finished off the Kelly Cup Final in five games with a blowout in Stockton. Gill went 13-4 in the playoffs with four shutouts, a .930 save percentage and a 1.91 goals-against. (That was a step down from his regular season, when he finished the year allowing only 17 goals in 14 appearances, a 1.28 goals-against and a .952 save percentage, after playing most of the year in the Southern Pro League.) Brief BST forward Ethan Cox was another one of the Royals, who won the Kelly Cup for the first time.
Canada’s governing body has taken body checking out of pee wee. I wrote something from a local angle two years ago when USA Hockey instituted a similar ban at the same level.**
And tip of cap to our boy Mike Cardillo.
*-The PHPA is directly involved because, as you may know and as that “revenue sharing” implies, playoff ticket revenue goes into a pool that’s divided according to the CBA between the league and the players. That’s where each player’s playoff share comes from.
**-As a complete aside, I was sick as a dog when I reported it and barely remember writing it. I do remember the coughing, though.
Excellent and long-overdue news in high schools: The SCC and SWC announced a partnership beginning in the winter, teaming up to create a superpower hockey conference. The headliner is Notre Dame-Fairfield joining up with the SCC’s Division I powers like Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame-West Haven and Hamden; that part, hockey-only, was long-rumored (at least, if I recall correctly, since I was covering schools full-time in the late ’90s, around the time eventual Philadelphia Phantoms forward Peter Zingoni left to play junior hockey). But this also puts together a very impressive Division II and a nice grouping of Division III schools.
Elsewhere in high schools, it’s raining during spring conference championship week. And along those lines, water is wet, ice is cold and grass is green.
Darien’s Hugh Jessiman is joining KHL Medvescak Zagreb in Croatia, the newest member of the KHL. Ben Walter (ObFWB: “a center that works all over the web”) is also going eastward, to Sweden.
Grand Rapids struck first in the Western Conference Final; Landon Ferraro scored the winner early in the second. An assist for OKC’s Mark Arcobello, speaking of the SCC. Syracuse and Wilkes-Barre get going Saturday as these two play Game 2.
And RIP, our colleague Wayne Ratzenberger.
They pulled it off. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, dead in the water, facing the top team in the league, needing four in a row with the last two on the road… They pulled it off.
Brad Thiessen made 34 saves for another shutout. He made 141 on 143 shots in those four wins. Chad Kolarik (other teams remain not so lucky) had another big night. Trevor Smith* scored again. Jonathan puts a lot of it into context; The League did the historical context this morning.
So it’s Pens-Syracuse beginning Saturday, Grand Rapids-OKC beginning Friday.
*-Got a somewhat random laugh out of Elite Prospects today. Kurtis McLean and Mike Iggulden both signed new contracts, McLean to go back to Finland with HIFK, Iggulden going to Vityaz Chekhov of the KHL, on the day Smith played a Game 7. Party like it’s 2009.
The Islanders announced they’ve signed right winger Chris Bruton to an NHL deal for next year. Looks like he brings some grit and toughness; he was also captain of the 2008 Memorial Cup champions in Spokane, scoring 10 points in 21 playoff games that year after 63 in the regular season. He’s worked his way up, beginning the 2011-12 season on an ECHL deal, earning a trip to Peoria and then a deal again last year. Appears this will be his first NHL deal at age 26.
Nighttime edit: Toronto was on the verge of prolonging things tonight, but Grand Rapids scored three in the third — the first two 28 seconds apart, the last with 4:03 to go — and beat the Marlies 4-3 in Game 6. So last year’s finalists are both out (though Syracuse obviously has some continuity with last year’s champ), and whoever wins the Western Conference will be playing for the Cup for the first time. The Griffins and Oklahoma City will start Friday in Michigan.
The Eastern Conference will play on Saturday and Sunday, one way or t’other. Game 7 should be fun Wednesday.
There’ll be a seventh game Wednesday night in Providence, and you can thank or blame Brad Thiessen as appropriate. The Bruins were all over the Pens; Thiessen didn’t let a second one in, which gave Trevor Smith a chance to score the winner 3:26 into overtime. From Jonathan’s postgameblog: Smith scored the overtime game winner in a historic playoff game and I didn’t mention his name until the eighth paragraph of this blog post. That should tell you how unbelievable Thiessen was.*
The Bruins were without Graham Mink, suspended for Game 6 and, it turns out, Game 7 for his match penalty, going after Thiessen late in Game 5.
Oklahoma City waits for the Grand Rapids-Toronto winner, but real life has intruded in horrific fashion. Not much you can say.
Tip of cap to Dave Bike.
And RIP, Ray Manzarek and Ralph Fico.
*-The box initially had Smith as first star and Thiessen as second. Glad to see that was incorrect.
Switzerland was 9-0 at the World Championship through Saturday. But Sweden is the World Champion, coming back from an early deficit to win gold on Sunday.
The U.S. coughed up a 2-0 lead in the bronze-medal game, but Alex Galchenyuk scored on back-to-back shootout attempts, one to keep the thing going and the next to win it, and we’re No. 3. John Gibson (36 saves) was strong again.
The United States’ medal history in this tournament in the past 50 years: bronze medals, 1996, 2004, 2013. That is all. (There are just 12 other top-fives in those 50 years.)
Nino Niederreiter, 5-3-8 in those 10 games, finished tied for 11th in the tournament.
The rest of the organization waits at home, but Nino Niederreiter’s playing for gold on Sunday. He scored the first goal on a two-on-one off a neutral-zone turnover, and he assisted on Reto Suri’s breakaway empty-netter (complete with Suri’s awesome leap-into-bench celebration) to put away Switzerland’s 3-0 win over the United States. First chance I’d had to watch, and Niederreiter looked really good: playing a physical game, using his size, getting to the net with and without the puck. He’ll get a chance at national sporting heroism. Switzerland plays tomorrow afternoon against Sweden, which beat Finland 3-0 as Jhonas Enroth made 30 saves.
The U.S. is relegated to playing Finland for bronze, Sunday morning at 10. Both games are rematches from early in the tournament.
(Wrapping up the quarterfinals, Eric Staal has a third-degree MCL strain that the Hurricanes hope will be healed in time for next season.)
Two elimination-game Game 5s in the AHL tonight. Edit below.
Neither Providence nor Grand Rapids closed out their series tonight, so on they go. The Penguins shut out the Bruins on 30 Brad Thiessen stops, not counting whatever blows he may have blocked from Graham Mink as the Bruins vet earned himself a match penalty. Toronto kept things going, too; three points, including the first goal, for Spencer Abbott.
Game 6 in Providence is Monday; it’s Tuesday in Toronto. Both series would play a Game 7 on Wednesday.
The Penguins fell behind but scored three goals in the second to extend the series to five games against Providence with a 3-1 win. Brad Thiessen made 31 saves. Up in Syracuse, though, the Falcons are done: The Crunch finished the sweep with a 5-2 win. Between last year in Norfolk and this year in Syracuse, the Lightning’s affiliate doesn’t lose playoff games. Or many games, period. (Except this year against Bridgeport for some reason.) Howard Dolgon was much happier with the turnout.
Out west, Grand Rapids is a game away from knocking out Toronto after a 4-1 win in Game 4.
The Big Club re-upped Eric Boulton. Think that’s 33 contracts for next year.
Hershey fired coach Mark French. The Utica rumo(u)rs won’t go away. The World Championship reaches the medal rounds, but Alex Edler doesn’t. (
The USA-Switzerland game is on NBC Sports Network at 1 p.m. Edit: Chris Peters notes that OLN/Versus/NBCEtc won’t be showing it live, but on tape delay late Saturday night. It will stream on their website at 1 p.m., though.)
And RIP, Ken Venturi.