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Silver Knights take 6-game winning streak into AHL playoffs

The Golden Knights’ organization isn’t done for the summer yet.

The NHL team missed the postseason for the first time in franchise history. But the Silver Knights will begin the Calder Cup playoffs at 6 p.m. Wednesday against the Colorado Eagles at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.

The American Hockey League playoff bracket is crowded with 23 teams advancing. A late-season run has the Silver Knights hopeful they can make some noise despite finishing sixth in the Pacific Division beginning with the three-game series at Colorado.

“We’re peaking at the perfect time,” captain Brayden Pachal said. “We’re playing our best hockey. That’s what you need come the playoffs.”

The Silver Knights’ season has featured plenty of bumps, like their parent club’s. Injuries and frequent call-ups have led to a lot of different lineups. Coach Manny Viveiros has taken three medical leave of absences for prostate cancer. He started his most recent one April 19, leaving assistant coach Jamie Heward in charge.

The beginning of the season was road-heavy until the Dollar Loan Center was ready for its April 2 hockey debut. The Silver Knights’ final seven games and 10 of final 12 were in their new building.

That helped the team get on a roll. The Silver Knights have won six straight and are 8-0-1 in their past nine.

“It was really important that we grabbed a lot of wins toward the end and got a lot of confidence to all the guys on the ice moving forward,” goaltender Jiri Patera said. “We couldn’t have timed it any better.”

Some key additions have ignited the hot streak. Left wing Brendan Brisson, the Golden Knights’ 2020 first-round pick, has eight points in seven games since joining the team after his sophomore year at Michigan. Center Ivan Morozov, a 2018 second-round pick, made his Silver Knights debut in the regular-season finale Saturday.

Center Jake Leschyshyn and right wing Jonas Rondbjerg are also contributing after spending significant time in the NHL. Leschyshyn played 41 games for the Golden Knights and Rondbjerg 30.

“We’re trying to keep the momentum of that (win streak) going, but playoffs is a whole new animal, and we’re trying to weather the storm early,” center Ben Jones said. “Obviously, we’re in the away building here early, so we’re just trying to do what we can while we’re on the road and try to come out with these two wins.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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