CALDER CUP UPDATE:
Defensemen Kirill Safronov and Mike Weaver scored first-period goals and Rob Brown finished with three assists as Chicago took a 2-1 Western Conference final series lead with a 4-1 win over Houston in Game 3 on Wednesday. For Safronov, it was his first goal as a member of the Wolves and his first since Jan. 21, a span of 53 AHL games. Weaver and Steve Maltais tallied a goal and an assist apiece and Pasi Nurminen (9-4, 2.14, .927) made 22 saves for Chicago.
The Wolves can take a commanding series lead with a win in Game 4 tonight (7:30 CT) at Allstate Arena… Houston has killed 54 of 57 shorthanded situations (94.7%) in the Calder Cup 2002 Playoffs, but the Aeros have gone scoreless in their last 22 power play chances… Brendan Yarema scored the only Houston goal in Game 3, giving him seven goals in the last five games… With six assists in the first three games of this series, Rob Brown has 4+13=17 pts. in 15 games against Houston this season… Chicago has scored 12 goals in three games against Jamie McLennan, who entered the series with a 1.25 playoff GAA.
Jani Rita scored twice, Kevin Brown had three assists and the Hamilton power play struck three times as the Bulldogs rode a four-goal first period to a 4-2 win over Bridgeport on Wednesday, closing the Sound Tigers’ lead in the Eastern Conference final to 2-1. The Bulldogs, who have tallied at least one power play goal in all 11 of their playoff outings, scored four times in a span of 9:42 after finding the net three times in Games 1 and 2 combined. The loss snapped the Sound Tigers’ seven-game winning streak.
Hamilton puts a nine-game home unbeaten streak (8-0-1) on the line in Game 4 tonight (7:30 ET) at Copps Coliseum… Fernando Pisani and Chad Hinz also scored for the Bulldogs in Game 3, and Peter Sarno registered two assists… Marc Lamothe (4-1, 1.76, .930) returned to the Hamilton crease and recorded 25 saves… Rookies Raffi Torres and Justin Mapletoft scored the Sound Tigers goals, each extending his point-scoring streak to seven games.
TONIGHT’S GAMES: Game 4 - Bridgeport at Hamilton, 7:30 Game 4 - Houston at Chicago, 7:30 SERIES SCHEDULES: Western Conference Final 4-Houston vs. 7-Chicago Game 1 - HOUSTON 6, Chicago 4 Game 2 - Chicago 4, HOUSTON 3 (2OT) Game 3 - CHICAGO 4, Houston 1 Game 4 - Fri 5/17 at Chicago, 7:30 Game 5 - Sun 5/19 at Chicago, 2:00 *Game 6 - Mon 5/20 at Houston, 7:00 *Game 7 - Wed 5/22 at Houston, 7:00 (Chicago leads series, 2-1) Eastern Conference Final 1-Bridgeport vs. 6-Hamilton Game 1 - BRIDGEPORT 3, Hamilton 2 Game 2 - BRIDGEPORT 3, Hamilton 1 Game 3 - HAMILTON 4, Bridgeport 2 Game 4 - Fri 5/17 at Hamilton, 7:30 Game 5 - Sat 5/18 at Hamilton, 7:30 *Game 6 - Mon 5/20 at Bridgeport, 7:05 *Game 7 - Wed 5/22 at Bridgeport, 7:05 (Bridgeport leads series, 2-1) *if necessary… All times local
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
Six members of the 2001-02 St. John’s Maple Leafs helped Toronto to a 2-1 win over Carolina in Game 1 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference final on Thursday night. Long-time Baby Leafs captain Nathan Dempsey assisted on the game-winning goal, while Anders Eriksson, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Paul Healey, Jeff Farkas and AHL scoring champion Donald MacLean all took to the ice for Toronto. Karel Pilar and Bob Wren have also seen NHL playoff action for the Leafs after spending most of the year in the AHL.
St. Louis Blues assistant coach Jimmy Roberts announced his retirement on Thursday after nearly 40 years in professional hockey. Roberts, who broke into the pro ranks with the original Cleveland Barons in 1963, won five Stanley Cups as a player before coaching Springfield to Calder Cup championships in 1990 and 1991. He later served as the first head coach of the Worcester IceCats from 1994-96.
ON THE AIR: Friday - Bridgeport at Hamilton - Cable 14 (Hamilton) - 7:30 ET Friday - Houston at Chicago - KTBU-TV 55 (Houston) - 7:30 CT Saturday - Bridgeport at Hamilton - Cable 14 (Hamilton) - 7:30 ET AHL RINKSIDE Sat 5/18 Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, 3:00 am ET WXSP-TV (Grand Rapids), 11:30 am ET CN8 (Comcast), 5:30 pm ET Sun 5/19 Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, 12:30 pm ET CN8 (Comcast), 1:00 pm ET Empire Sports Network, 6:30 pm ET