The Eastern Conference provided the shocks in the opening round of the Calder Cup, with the top three seeds all being eliminated.
(1) Manchester 1 v 3 Norfolk Admirals (8)
(2) Springfield Falcons 2 v 3 Providence Bruins (7)
(3) Binghamton Senators 1 v 3 W-B/Scranton Penguins (6)
(4) St. Johns Ice Caps 3 v 1 Albany Devils (5)
I struggled with my selections going 2/4, correctly predicating wins for the 4th and 6th seeds.
St. Johns Ice Caps v Norfolk Admirals
The Ice Caps are now the highest seeded team left in the East and will benefit from home advantage the rest of the way. The high scoring team from St. Johns struggled to find the net as regularly in their series with Albany, hitting the twine just nine times but Albany weren’t able to generate enough offense to trouble them. After splitting the two games at home, St.Johns then shutout the Devils in Albany before taking the series with a 4-1 victory.
Norfolk sprung the surprise of the first round with a 3-1 series victory over the highly rated Manchester Monarchs. You wouldn’t have though it possible after Manchester shut them out for a 2-0 victory but Norfolk responded by splitting the series with a one goal decision in Manchester before taking the third game at home in a thrilling 1-0 OT win. The fourth and final game would also only see a solitary marker divide the two sides, with Norfolk taking it 3-2.
The only time these two teams have met was when they face each other in the conference finals two years ago, where Norfolk swept the series on their way to winning the Calder Cup.
With Norfolk having changed affiliation since then, that series has no bearing whatsoever.
The teams were not scheduled together during the regular season so it’s hard to get a handle on how this match-up may pan out, but I think St John’s extra offensive capabilities could prove the difference.
Prediction: St John’s Ice Caps in 7.
Game 1 – Tue., May 6 – Norfolk at St. John’s, 6:00
Game 2 – Wed., May 7 – Norfolk at St. John’s, 6:00
Game 3 – TBD – St. John’s at Norfolk
Game 4 – TBD – St. John’s at Norfolk
*Game 5 – TBD – St. John’s at Norfolk
*Game 6 – TBD – Norfolk at St. John’s
*Game 7 – TBD – Norfolk at St. John’s
W-B/Scranton Penguins v Providence Bruins
The sixth seeded Penguins won through after an extremely tight first three games against Binghamton Senators. Three consecutive overtime’s on which WBS won two proved crucial as they were the team able to break out in game four as they blasted Binghamton 5-1 to clinch the series.
Providence Bruins somehow found a way to get past Springfield in a crazy series which had just about everything. The teams would split the opening pair of games which both headed to overtime.
Springfield would take the series lead with a 3-2 victory before all hell break loose with the teams sharing 18 goals in the two games to follow. Providence coming out on top in game four by a 6-3 scoreline, where the power play accounted for five goals between the teams.
Game five saw an amazing first period including a big comeback. Springfield took a 3-1 lead but the Bruins fought back to lead 4-3 after twenty minutes, with all of their goals scored at even strength.
The rest of that game was slightly more controlled as Providence added goals in the second and third period to clinch another 6-3 win and the series.
WBS and Providence met in this round last year with the latter coming out on top in seven.
During the regular season they shared a pair of one goals games and 5-1 blowouts with Providence coming out on top with three wins.
Springfield appear to be a streaky team right now while WBS are playing very steady and solid hockey as they have done all season. This should be another tight series but I’ll take WBS to reverse last year’s result.
Prediction: W-B/Scranton Penguins in 7.
Game 1 – Fri May 9 7:05 PM Providence at W-B/Scranton
Game 2 – Sat May 10 7:05 PM Providence at W-B/Scranton
Game 3 – Wed May 14 7:05 PM W-B/Scranton at Providence
Game 4 – Fri May 16 7:05 PM W-B/Scranton at Providence
Game 5 – Sat May 17 7:05 PM * W-B/Scranton at Providence
Game 6 – Mon May 19 7:05 PM * Providence at W-B/Scranton
Game 7 – Wed May 21 7:05 PM * Providence at W-B/Scranton
All times are Eastern
*indicates if necessary