Stapleton, Gernander News

     Former Minnesota Duluth forward Tim Stapleton closed out an impressive season with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League as the Marlies lost to Manitoba on Saturday night in the league playoffs. Stapleton was seventh in the league in regular-season scoring with 79 points in 70 games, and had two goals in six playoff games, including one in Saturday’s 4-2 loss. Also Coleraine’s Ken Gernander, head coach with Hartford in the AHL, gets a one-day NHL coaching assignment Sunday. Below is a story from Sunday’s Toronto Sun and then an AHL release on Gernander :

WINNIPEG — Justin Pogge ended the Calder Cup playoffs in exactly the same place as he did last spring– on the end of the bench with his baseball cap on instead of in the crease defending the Marlies’ goal.

Ray Sawada scored the game-winning goal 6:14 into the third period to lead the Manitoba Moose to a 4-2 victory over the Marlies before a crowd of 10,947 at the MTS Centre last night.

With the loss, the Marlies bow out of the best-of-seven AHL North Division semi-final 4-2.

The big story for the Marlies was that head coach Greg Gilbert opted to start Adam Munro in goal instead of Pogge, who was brilliant in the first three games of the series but had surrendered 10 goals over the past two.

"To get a chance to play in the playoffs was obviously a thrill," said Munro, who got official word yesterday morning and finished with 29 saves.

"You’ve got to take it like any other game. I didn’t feel any added pressure or anything like that. I just block that out. It’s where everybody wants to be playing. It was good to get a start. I just wish things could have gone better. There were some bad bounces and they’re a great team.

"It was a good series. Hard fought. We’re in one of the top divisions in the league. It’s disappointing to lose, but hats off to them."

The Moose will face the winner of the series between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Hamilton Bulldogs in the North Division final.

The Griffins lead the other North Division semi 3-2, with Game 6 scheduled for tonight at Copps Coliseum.

Manitoba’s Greg Rallo scored first, but the Marlies got goals from Tim Stapleton and Alex Foster to take a 2-1 advantage.

It was just the second goal — and point — of the series for Stapleton, who led the Marlies with 28 goals and 79 points during the regular season.

The Moose had a suspicion they might see Munro in Game 6 and they planned accordingly, with extra video and a quick discussion during their meetings.

"We got to Pogge a little bit the last two games and their coach was trying to switch it up and send a message," Moose goaltender Cory Schneider said.

Germander Gets NHL Coaching Call

Hartford (Conn.) Wolf Pack head coach Ken Gernander and assistant J.J. Daigneault will be behind the bench Sunday afternoon as the New York Rangers look to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they take on the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

Gernander and Daigneault will assist Jim Schoenfeld, who will run the bench while John Tortorella serves a one-game NHL suspension.

Gernander, 39, led the American Hockey League’s Wolf Pack to a 50-win season in 2007-08 and guided them to an Atlantic Division title in 2008-09. He was Hartford’s team captain from 1997-2005, winning a Calder Cup championship in 2000, and served as an assistant coach under Schoenfeld from 2005-07.

The native of Coleraine, played 973 games in the American Hockey League, good for eighth on the all-time list. His 624 points are the most of any American-born player in league history.