By Carter Brooks
Photo by Jeff Miller
Winnipeg's duo of Adam Brooks and Calvin Pickard are ready for the fourth game of the American Hockey League's Calder Cup Final. After jumping ahead two games to one through three contests, the Manitobans are ready to put up one final push for the last two victories of the 2017-18 season.
It was certainly a transition year for both Pickard and Brooks. Pickard - who was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, and then subsequently traded to Toronto at the beginning of the season - has primarily served as a backup to the red-hot Garret Sparks, while Brooks spent his first professional year of hockey building off of the success he found in the Western Hockey League with Regina.
Pickard only saw action 33 times, going 21-9-1 with a 2.31 goals against average and a .918 save percentage in those games. The 26-year-old has, however, stopped 37 of 39 playoff shots for a .949 save percentage and a 1.15 goals against average. Pickard has taken a comfortable backseat to Garret Sparks in the playoffs, who led the AHL in wins, goals against average and save percentage this past season.
Brooks collected eight goals and 19 points in 57 regular season games, before putting up two goals and four points in the playoffs thus far. Brooks led the Marlies with four shots on net in their most recent victory over Texas. He currently has 24 shots on net this postseason and is sitting at a +3.
Following an opening round that lasted just five games, the Marlies upped the tempo for the second and third rounds, only requiring the minimum four games in each series to dismantle their opponents, before meeting up with the Texas Stars in the AHL final.
After opening the Calder Cup Final on Saturday with a 6-5 victory, Toronto's ten-game playoff winning streak came to end in game two as the Marlies lost a close 2-1 contest to the Stars. They bounced back rather nicely on Tuesday, flipping the script on Texas in securing a 2-1 come-from-behind victory of their own.
Game four goes from H-E-B Center at Cedar Park at 7:00 P.M. central time Thursday evening. Game five will also be held in Texas on Saturday. If needed, the series will then shift back to Toronto for games six and potentially seven from Ricoh Coliseum next Tuesday and Thursday.