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Posted May 5, 2005
AHL Playoffs Provide Plenty of Excitement
By Paul Noonan

     Normally at this time of year the highest quality of NHL hockey would be taking place, with the playoffs in full swing. But since a few nameless egos decided to put money ahead of the fans, hockey fans have been left with little quality TV this spring, unless you're a diehard basketball or baseball fan as well. However, just a short distance away, NHL caliber hockey is being played, but it's in the form of the AHL. With no television coverage, the only way to catch these games is live. Let me tell you, it's worth it.

     This past week I got a chance to go down to Providence for game four between the Baby B's and the Manchester Monarchs. And although the rink lacked the playoff atmosphere of an NHL playoff game, the players on the ice certainly didn't let that slow them down. The game, which Manchester won with 48 seconds left, was hard- hitting and for the most part very entertaining. Yes, the depth of minor league teams is not quite up to par with that of the NHL, but those guys still played as hard as any NHLers would have in the big time. The series was made better by the local rivalry and the teams took every opportunity to show how much they disliked each other, with hits and scrums packing every shift. The best part about it? You can buy a playoff ticket for these games for less than what an NHL regular season game or a Sox game or a Celtics game would cost.

     So if you're a hockey fan, what's holding you back? The Baby Bruins made it through to the second round to take on the Lowell Lock Monsters, which means both venues are within driving distance. Yeah you might have to battle a little traffic, and you might get home a little later, but the chance to see some quality playoff hockey is almost too good to pass up. These two teams surely won't like each other two much and with a trip to the Conference Final on the line tensions will only increase. Starting tomorrow night, two local teams will look to continue their playoff drives and bring some good news to the end of a terrible year for hockey. Yet even at the end of this series, one New England team will still be in the running for the Calder Cup. Even the Pats can't make that kind of a guarantee.

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