June 11, 2014

P-Bruins' Calder run falls short

By Joshua Kummins

Alexander Khokhlachev was tops on the P-Bruins in scoring with 21 goals and a team-best 36 assists. He had five power-play markers and was a plus-11. (Photo/Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The American Hockey League season came to a close a bit earlier than expected for New England’s teams. The Eastern Conference champion Manchester Monarchs suffered a difficult fall in the opening round. The Providence Bruins fought through the first round and took the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to seven games in the conference semifinals. Here’s a look back at 2013-14:

Providence Bruins

The Baby B’s were the longest survivors from New England in the AHL playoffs but fell to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 21.

Before falling to the Penguins, Providence outlasted two-time defending Northeast Division champion Springfield in a five-game quarterfinal series.

Center Alexander Khokhlachev, Boston’s second-round draft selection in 2011, led the P-Bruins in scoring with 21 goals and a team-best 36 assists. Former Boston University Terrier David Warsofsky (Marshfield, Mass.) anchored the defense and notched six goals and 32 points.

In the postseason, center Ryan Spooner led the team with six goals and 15 points, while Khokhlachev scored nine goals to lead the team. Warsofsky scored nine points, while former Dartmouth winger Matt Lindblad scored three goals and four assists.

Malcolm Subban and Niklas Svedberg split the season in goal, with Svedberg leading the duo with a 25-15-4 record in his 45 appearances.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

In a down season for the Sound Tigers, 20-year-old Ryan Strome was a bright spot. The Islanders’ fifth-overall selection in the 2011 draft was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team after collecting 13 goals and 49 points in 37 games in Bridgeport.

Strome led all AHL rookies in scoring at the time of his first-career NHL recall on Dec. 11. He was recalled again just over two months later and remained with the parent New York Islanders for the remainder of the season.

Other than Strome, it was a difficult year for the Sound Tigers, as they finished at the bottom of the Northeast Division with a 28-40-2-6 record. Its end — a 1-8-0-1 mark in the final 10 games — was just par for the course.

Former UMass-Lowell captain Riley Wetmore (Swanton, Vt.) appeared in 38 games for the Sound Tigers, notching three goals and 11 points.

Hartford Wolf Pack

After three seasons as the Connecticut Whale, the Wolf Pack came back in 2013-14. Despite sitting nine games out of a playoff spot, Hartford finished the season strong with nine wins in its last 10 contests and a five-game winning streak on the home XL Center ice.

That season-ending stretch included a 2-0 win over Northeast Division champion Springfield on April 19. Harvard product Dov Grumet-Morris, who was Hartford’s lead goaltender with appearances in 39 games on the season, posted 23 saves in the finale for his only shutout of the season. The Wolf Pack went the first 66 games of the season without a shutout but orchestrated four in the final 10 games.

Hartford’s offense was rather balanced as Danny Syvret led the team in scoring from the blue line, with 38 of his 47 points coming on assists. In his third season in Hartford, Ryan Bourque (Boxford, Mass.) scored 21 goals in 74 games, a mark which ranked second on the team to fellow winger Danny Kristo.

Manchester Monarchs

Manchester finished more than two games clear of second-place St. John’s in the Atlantic Division with 48 wins and 105 points, but unexpectedly bowed out to Norfolk in four games in the opening round of the playoffs.

Center Jordan Weal, who closed the season on a high with his first professional hat trick against Portland on April 5, led the team with 47 assists and 70 points on the season. During the playoff series, the team’s biggest offensive threat was taken out of the game, as Weal was held without a goal and no Monarch finished with more than three points.

The Monarchs received contributions from a pair of forwards with local connections who were mid-season acquisitions — Northeastern product Steve Qualier and Providence product Ian O’Connor (Londonderry, N.H.). O’Connor notched nine points in 21 games, including his only goal, and an assist against Portland on Feb. 2.

Jean-Francois Berube was a constant between the pipes, appearing in 48 of 76 regular-season games and posting a .913 save percentage. In a 2-0 playoff win against the Admirals on April 25, Berube became the third Monarchs goaltender in franchise history to record a shutout in his first postseason start, joining Barry Brust and Adam Hauser.

On May 7, the parent Los Angeles Kings announced that veteran head coach Mark Morris’ contract for next season would not be renewed.

Portland Pirates

It was a trying 2013-14 season for the Phoenix Coyotes’ top affiliate as the Pirates were relocated to Lewiston for their home games due to lease troubles at the outdated Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.

Portland finished deep in the cellar in the Atlantic Division, winning just 24 games and dropping a league-high 10 shootouts. The finish was a microcosm of the entire season as the Pirates were without a regulation victory in their final 10 games.

Andy Miele enjoyed a breakout season, setting career highs and moving into the top 10 in the Pirates’ record books with 27 goals and 45 assists for 72 points. The 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner from Miami, who was named the Pirates’ Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career, sat third in the AHL in scoring and was named to the league’s second All-Star team following the season. He also got the call to the NHL for seven games.

Boston University product Brandon Yip also was a regular in the Portland lineup, scoring 14 goals and 20 assists over 66 games.

Springfield Falcons

Thanks to a franchise-record 47 victories and 100 points, the Falcons earned the Northeast Division title for a second consecutive season for the first time in the franchise’s 20-year history.

Springfield’s regular-season success, which featured 13 wins in the final 18 games, was essentially for naught, as it suffered a five-game loss to Providence in the AHL’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals, despite coming within a game of advancing to the second round.

The Falcons were very consistent throughout the season, notching nine regulation wins in three different months and boasting the league’s second-best penalty-kill unit.

The team received numerous additions over the course of the year, including forward Carter Camper, who finished with 16 assists and 20 points in 19 games after being traded from the Providence Bruins in February. Second-year pro Michael Chaput, who played three years of junior hockey with the Lewiston Maineiacs, notched 19 goals and 45 points in 55 games with Springfield.

Forward Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) was also acquired by the Falcons in a trade during the second half of the season. After 39 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the UNH alumnus notched a goal in his second game with the Falcons on Feb. 8 and totaled eight in 30 games.

Worcester Sharks

The Sharks finished fourth in the Atlantic Division with 36 wins but fell short of postseason play for a fourth straight year. Worcester’s win total was its most since the AHL went to a 76-game season in 2011-12.

Five Sharks players matched or surpassed their scoring totals from last season in Worcester, including leading scorer and team Most Valuable Player Freddie Hamilton, who led the team with 22 goals and 43 points in his second professional season.

Head coach Roy Sommer has coached more games than anyone in AHL history with 1,268, eclipsing Frank Mathers’ league record on March 26. Dan DaSilva broke the Worcester franchise record for most career goals with his 60th in a loss to Hershey on April 5.

Former Boston University captain John McCarthy (Andover, Mass.) scored three goals in 13 games with Worcester while also receiving the call to San Jose for 36 games, his longest stretch of NHL time in his career. He missed the final 12 games of the season with a broken hand. Former Northeastern forward Brodie Reid had a strong third pro season for the Sharks, posting 11 goals and 25 points in 55 games.

Veteran Harri Sateri and rookie Troy Grosenick split the season pretty evenly between the pipes as each posted 18 wins on the season.

Grosenick, a Union product who made his professional debut on the year, posted the higher goals-against average (2.62) and save percentage (.903) of the duo while pitching two shutouts, including a season-closing 2-0 win over Providence on April 19.

This article originally appeared in the June edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to access the FREE digital edition.

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