Tag Archives: AHL

2017 AHL All Star Wrap

Another successful AHL All Star Classic is in the books.

This year, the venue was Allentown, home of the Phantoms.  Albany looked to be well represented, with John Quenneville, Joe Blandisi, and Vojtech Mozik selected to represent the North Division.  Then…Sunday morning all three were mysteriously pulled from the event.  A highly contagious virus had struck a few members of the roster (i.e. Reece Scarlett, Blake Pietila), and due to risk of possible exposure, the team and league determined it was best everyone stayed home to recover.

But for me, even though I was now left without a team in the fight…the show must go on.

1/29, All Star Skills: West 15, East 11

Jack Roslovic talking strategy.

Jack Roslovic talking strategy.

First, both conferences battled in the Skills Competition.

Leading off, the Puck Control Relay: the West would win the first three heats, with former Devil Matt Lorito (now with Grand Rapids) part of the first winning team.  The East would win the final individual round (Lehigh Valley’s Jordan Weal would be the winner).

Second event, the Fastest Skater: This year’s event was record setting, as Bridgeport’s Devon Toews would become the second fastest ever in the event’s history, winning with a time of 13.478 seconds.  All but one skater would finish at 13.8 or faster.  The East picked up the individual point, while the West took home team honors for lowest average with 13.769 seconds.

Third event, the Rapid Fire: Both teams would earn a point, as they tied with 23 saves each.  Former River Rat Michael Leighton (now with Charlotte) and Rochester’s Linus Ullmark would each stop 8 shots in their respective rounds.

Fourth event, the Hardest Shot: Another two points to the West, as Tucson’s Kyle Wood took home the individual title with 99.3 MPH.  The West also grabbed team honors with an average shot of 98.1 MPH.

Fifth event, Accuracy Shooting: No one went 4 for 4, but Cole Schneider of Rochester came the closest, getting 4 targets in 5 attempts.  The East took the team honors, hitting 15 targets in 25 total attempts.

Sixth event, Pass and Score: In the three on none round, the East would win 6-3 and take the overall competition lead.  Troy Grosenick (San Jose) and Tristan Jarry (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) were the only two goaltenders to stop all three attempts.  The trio of former River Rat Chris Terry (now with St. John’s) and Utica teammates Alexandre Greiner and Jordan Subban scored all three of their goals against Cleveland’s Anton Forsberg.

Seventh event, Breakaway Relay: All four West goaltenders–Grosenick, Jack Campbell (Ontario), Forsberg, and Leighton–would stop every shot they faced.  On the East side, Ullmark would be the only goaltender to shut out his round.  Five West skaters would pick up goals, giving the West the overall win.

Ullmark would take home Top Goaltender honors, as he stopped 15 of 18 total shots faced.

 

Matt Lorito

Matt Lorito

The Top Goaltender, Linus Ullmark (Rochester). Minus the sweet Minion mask.

The Top Goaltender, Linus Ullmark (Rochester). Minus the sweet Minion mask.

Monday: The day began with the annual State of the League address.  Other than, well, the obvious…some highlights:

-Next year’s schedule will come out 5-6 weeks earlier than normal.  Which means you can start making your plans in July instead of nearly having to wait till September!

-With Las Vegas joining the NHL next season, talk of a 31st AHL team was brought up.  It may not come to fruition until 2018-19 at the latest.  Outside of the three North Division moves, everyone else appears to be staying put for the long haul.  Realignment also appears to be on the radar for next season as well.

-Later Monday morning, former River Rat Bryan Helmer was one of four men to be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame.

All-Star Challenge Results:

 

Everyone sporting #14 in honor of Craig Cunningham.

Everyone sporting #14 in honor of Craig Cunningham.

Game #1: Atlantic 2, Central 1

Leading off the 3 on 3 tournament, the Atlantic took on the Central.  The Atlantic would score both their goals during the first five minute half, as Mackenzie Weegar (Springfield) and Travis Boyd (Hershey) would score 36 seconds apart.  Oliver Bjorkstrand (Cleveland) would break up the Atlantic shutout bid with 48 seconds left in the second half.  Zane McIntyre (Providence) stopped 6 of 7 shots, while Leighton stopped 3 of 5.

Game #2: North 6, Pacific 3

The other two divisions faced off in the second game…and this one was no contest.  After both teams went back and forth during the first half, the North Division would explode for four goals in the second half.  Justin Bailey (Rochester) scored twice in a 14 second span, while former Devil Matt Taormina (now with Syracuse) and Alexandre Grenier (Utica) added two assists each.  Ullmark would stop 5 of 6 shots in the first half, while Charlie Lindgren (St. John’s) took over in the second half and stopped just one of three.  Campbell had a rough go in the second half, stopping 5 of 9 North shots.

Game #3: Central 2, North 1 (SO)

Unlike the previous round, this was a low scoring affair.  Casey Bailey (Binghamton) would put the North ahead late in the first half.  Alex Tuch (Iowa) would tie things up early in the second half.  With the first tie of the evening, it would be settled by the shootout.  Kenny Agostino (Chicago) and Spencer Abbott (Rockford) would each score, while Anton Forsberg (Cleveland) would stop 2 of 3 North shooters for the win.  He stopped 11 of 12 shots before that.  Ullmark would stop all 4 shots faced in the first half, then Lindgren would stop 6 of 7 in the second half.

Game #4: Atlantic 6, Pacific 1

Another blowout performance against the Pacific in this round.  Hometown boys T.J. Brennan and Jordan Weal would score 1:12 apart for a 2-0 start, then Daniel O’Regan (San Jose) would cut the lead in half.  But the Pennsylvania connection would put the game away for the Atlantic…Hershey teammates Chris Bourque and Boyd would score :45 apart, then the third Phantom representative, Taylor Leier, would make the hometown crowd happy with two goals in the second half.  The Pacific was held shotless in the second half, while Campbell and Troy Grosenick (San Jose) combined for 6 saves on 12 shots overall.

Game #5: Central 5, Pacific 3

Poor Pacific Division.  Apparently they should have practiced more…oh wait.  (I’ll show myself out.)

Anyway…the Central would get off to a very quick start in this round, taking a 3-0 lead within the first minute of the contest.  Lorito, Agostino, and Tuch would all score within :43.  Christian Fischer (Tucson) would get  the Pacific on the board, only to see Oliver Bjorkstand (Cleveland) answer with a goal late.  In the second half, Lorito would pick up his second of the game for a 5-1 advantage.  Wood and O’Regan would pick up goals, but it was too little too late.  Leighton and Forsberg combined to stop 9 of 12 shots.  Grosenick and Campbell would only save 2 of 7.  With the win, the Central clinched a spot in the championship game.

Game #6: Atlantic 2, North 0

So who would be taking on the Central for the title?  It would be an offensive struggle for the North in this one, as they could not get a goal past Tristan Jarry (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) in the first half.  Nicklas Jensen (Hartford) would get the Atlantic on the board.  Zane McIntyre (Providence) would take over in the second half, and he too would keep the North in check.  Leier would add an empty netter late to send the Atlantic to the championship game.  Ullmark and Lindgren would combine for 11 saves on 12 shots.

Championship: Central 1, Atlantic 0 (SO)

One from the East, one from the West.  But only one division can be the winner.  And both teams battled to a scoreless tie through regulation, combining for just 5 shots in the 6:00 round.  It would go down to a sudden death shootout…Weal, Agostino, Bourque, Abbott, Boyd, Bjorkstrand, and Leier were all unsuccessful.  But it would be the former Devil, Lorito, who would score on McIntyre in the fourth round, clinching the Challenge for the Central Division for the second year in a row.

Leier would take home MVP honors, scoring 3 goals on the night.

As for my experience: as always, everything was wonderful, despite the fact I had no one show up. (For those of you who continue to think it’s New Jersey screwing us…you’re wrong.  I have confirmation that it was indeed illness.  I get it, you’re ticked, but for the love of all things holy STOP IT.) It was my first visit to Allentown and…if you can make the trip to the PPL Center, absolutely do it.  The building is awesome…and not just because there’s a Tim Hortons attached to it (give me all the Timbits!).  Sight lines were great from nearly all angles, the atmosphere was energetic…no complaints here.  If the 2018 version stays in the east and I can drive there…I may make the trip for the fourth year in a row.

For more photos check out my Flickr album!

Now the Farewell tour begins, starting Thursday.

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2016-17 Schedule Reveal…

…Finally.

After having to wait since early June (or in my case, mid-May), and seeing both the ECHL and NHL release their schedules, AND having to wait on the NBA to finish theirs, the AHL finally released the 2016-17 slate on Monday afternoon.

As for the Devils:

-They will open the season on the road in Providence on Friday, October 14th against the Bruins.  St. John’s will come in the next afternoon at 5 PM for the home opener.

The full schedule:

OCTOBER

14–@ Providence, 7:05 PM

15–ST. JOHN’S, 5:00 PM

21–BINGHAMTON, 7:00 PM

22–UTICA, 5:00 PM

23–@ Providence, 3:05 PM

26–@ W-B/Scranton, 7:05 PM

28–TORONTO, 7:00 PM

29–TORONTO, 5:00 PM

NOVEMBER

2–@ Bridgeport, 11:00 AM

5–@ Hershey, 7:00 PM

11–HERSHEY, 7:00 PM

12–ST. JOHN’S, 5:00 PM

16–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

18–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

19–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

23–TORONTO, 7:00 PM

25–@ Hartford, 7:15 PM

26–ROCHESTER, 5:00 PM

29–@ Bridgeport, 7:00 PM

DECEMBER

2–UTICA, 7:00 PM

3–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

4–BINGHAMTON, 3:00 PM

7–BINGHAMTON, 7:00 PM

9–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

10–PROVIDENCE, 5:00 PM

14–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

17–@ Toronto, 1:30 PM

18–@ Toronto, 3:00 PM

21–BINGHAMTON, 7:00 PM

26–PROVIDENCE, 7:00 PM

30–TORONTO, 7:00 PM

31–@ Hartford, 5:00 PM

JANUARY

1–BRIDGEPORT,  3:00 PM

4–ST. JOHN’S, 7:00 PM

6–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

7–@ Lehigh Valley, 7:05 PM

11-@ Springfield, 7:05 PM

13–SPRINGFIELD, 7:00 PM

14–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

18–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

21–@ St. John’s, 4:00 PM NST (2:30 EST)

22-@ St John’s, 4:00 PM NST (2:30 EST)

27–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

28–ROCHESTER, 5:00 PM

FEBRUARY

2–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

3–LEHIGH VALLEY, 7:00 PM

4–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

7–PROVIDENCE, 7:00 PM

10–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

11–@ Toronto, 5:00 PM

12–@ Toronto, 3:00 PM

15–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

17–W/B-SCRANTON, 7:00 PM

18–BRIDGEPORT, 1:00 PM

20–UTICA, 1:00 PM

24–@ St. John’s, 7:30 PM NST (6:00 EST)

25–@St. John’s, 7:30 PM NST (6:00 EST)

MARCH

3–@ Providence, 7:05 PM

4–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

10–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

11–@ Bridgeport, 7:00 PM

17–SPRINGFIELD, 7:00 PM

18–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

19–@ Springfield, 3:05 PM

22–BRIDGEPORT, 7:00 PM

24–UTICA, 7:00 PM

25–PROVIDENCE, 5:00 PM

31–@ Providence, 7:05 PM

APRIL

1–HARTFORD, 5:00 PM

2–ROCHESTER, 3:00 PM

5–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

7–ST. JOHN’S, 7:00 PM

8–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

12–HARTFORD, 7:00 PM

14–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

15–ROCHESTER, 5:00 PM

(home games in CAPS)

The Breakdown:

-8 games each against Providence, St. John’s, Binghamton, Utica, Toronto, Rochester, and Syracuse; 6 against Bridgeport; 4 against Hartford and Springfield; and 2 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hershey, and Lehigh Valley.

-Saturday leads the way with 26 games, followed by: Friday with 23; Wednesday with 14; Sunday with 8; Monday and Tuesday with 2: and 1 on Thursday.

-Only 7 3 in 3 sets, with 6 on the weekend and one Thursday-Friday-Saturday.

-Saturday home games remain at 5:00 (cue incessant groaning from the fanbase…not from me anyway), except for February 18th, a 1 PM start.  All weekday home games are at 7:00 with the exception of February 20th, a Presidents Day 1 PM matinee.

-Longest homestand: 4, which happens twice (February 15th-20th and April 1st-7th).

-Longest road trip: 6 games, from February 24th-March 11th.

-April is very friendly, as 6 of their final 8 games are on home ice.

-One morning game this season, in Bridgeport on November 2nd.

One final scheduling note: a second preseason game will take place in Cromwell, CT on Sunday, October 9th at 1 PM against Hartford.

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Developmental Camp Wrapup (and Other News)

Before we dive into the events of this week’s developmental camp in Newark, there are some updates:

-The last original Albany Devil has left the building.  On Monday, Dan Kelly signed a 1 year deal with San Jose.  He leaves as the all time franchise leader in games played (352) and plus/minus (+44).  So if you’re keeping score at home…that’s 9 players, not counting those who remain unsigned, that have left the organization since May.  That number may soon increase to 10, as Marc-Andre Gragnani is rumored to be heading back overseas to an unnamed KHL team.

-However, the only coach the A-Devils has ever known will remain just that for the next two seasons.  It was announced early Saturday afternoon that the reigning AHL Coach of the Year Rick Kowalsky will stay on, along with assistant Sergei Brylin.  Kowalsky is the third longest tenured coach in the league, behind Roy Sommer (Worcester/San Jose) and Ken Gernander (Hartford).

-It looks like it could be the last season of AHL hockey in Newfoundland, with Monday’s announcement that the IceCaps will move to Laval, QC beginning in 2017-18.  After switching affiliations from Winnipeg to Montreal before last season, it was only supposed to be a temporary stay while a new arena was built in Laval, similar to what Philadelphia did with Adirondack while the PPL Center in Allentown was being constructed.

Now a few highlights from camp in New Jersey:

Interviews with Joe Blandisi, Nick Lappin and Josh Jacobs:

If you scroll down the New Jersey Facebook page…I highly recommend the Facebook Live Q & A with Blake Coleman.

Day 2 on Wednesday saw a 3-on-3 round robin tournament with the prospects divided into four teams, aptly named Team Stevens, Team Daneyko, Team Niedermayer, and Team Brodeur, after the four retired NJ numbers.  In the end, it was Team Stevens, lead by Jacobs and Blake Coleman, winning the tourney on a shootout goal by 2016 first rounder Michael McLeod.  After the tourney, everyone split up around the city of Newark for various community activities…some stayed behind to conduct a youth clinic, while others delivered bottled water to elementary schools or visited local hospitals.

Other team bonding activities? A cooking/nutrition class, a trip to the go cart track, and Yankees-Red Sox at the Stadium on Friday night.

Saturday afternoon came the Red-White Scrimmage.  After a scoreless first half, both teams turned on the offensive jets in the second.  Team White would hang on for a 4-3 victory, followed by a very long shootout for all participants just after.  I had the opportunity to make the trip down…

Blake Coleman representing Team White

Blake Coleman representing Team White

Ken Appleby

Ken Appleby

Full team photo...during pregame warmup.

Full team photo…during pregame warmup.

One of the purposes of this trip for me was to check out some of the current A-Devils (Coleman, Lappin, et al), but also to get an idea of who may be coming up over the next couple of seasons.  Who did I find the most impressive?  The SuperBuddies themselves, McLeod and Nathan Bastian.

For more photos from Saturday’s scrimmage, check out my full album on Flickr.

Now that camp is over…no more on ice action until training camp in September.  But there’s still comings and goings, and the schedule release (likely at least another month away) to look forward to the rest of the summer.

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Offseason Notebook #6

The latest from the Notebook:

-The Captain is back!  Rod Pelley will be back for a fourth season as the leader of the A-Devs, signing a 1 year AHL deal.  He appeared in 65 games last season, picking up 8 goals and 5 assists.  During his three seasons wearing the C (just the third in Albany’s franchise history), he has only missed a total of 19 games, and the Devils have a combined record of 123-71-18-16, along with their only two playoff appearances.  With Pelley’s signing, there are only seven unrestricted free agent Devils remaining who need a home for 2016-17.

-Mark your calendars for 99 days from now…or October 15th.  Albany’s home opener!

-On Thursday, the American Hockey League announced at their Board of Governors meeting this year’s division/playoff alignment and a few rules changes:

The only divisions seeing any changes are in the Atlantic and Pacific, leaving the conferences unbalanced…14 Eastern teams, 16 Western teams.  Gone from the Atlantic is Portland (due to the move to Springfield), leaving that division with seven teams.  Tucson (via the previous Springfield franchise) will join the Pacific, and just like last season, all but the California Five and Tucson will play 76 games, while the remaining 6 play 68.  (Again, I ask…WHY? Oh…I mean, yay, more fun with math and percentages.)  The playoff format is slightly different this year, as just the top 4 teams in each division–no crossovers–will make the postseason.  First round is best of 5, with best of 7 for the remaining three rounds.

-As for the other rules changes?

From October-Christmas break, home teams will wear light colored jerseys.  After that, dark colors.  Okay.

No more dry scrape before teams start overtime.  Goodbye #dryscrape hashtag, one of my favorites to use.

So you want to fight in an AHL game?  Well, that could cost you:

If you drop the gloves with an opponent right after a faceoff, you’re done for the day…automatic game misconduct.

During the course of the regular season, get 10 fighting majors?  You’re suspended for one game.  Get fighting majors 11, 12, and 13?  Another game each.  14 majors?  That’s two games you miss.  Continue to get fighting majors after that?  Another two games each.

Last rule change involves icing…if you’re the offending team, no time out can be taken.

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Free Agency, Day 1: Boom Goes the Dynamite

That explosion you heard in the East was not from a Fourth of July celebration.  Or from a round of thunderstorms.

Nope.  That was the Albany roster as we know it blowing up.

On the first day of NHL free agency, a lot of players changed teams, but the AHL Devils took a huge hit, despite picking up three new veteran players that could see significant time here.

-Albany’s top 4 scorers from last season all have new homes, as Matt Lorito signed for two years with Detroit, and Mike Sislo and Jim O’Brien joined former Devil Joe Whitney in Colorado on one year contracts.  You may want to keep an eye on the San Antonio Rampage (Colorado’s AHL affiliate) after the day the Avs had.

-Also finding a new home: Pierre-Luc Leblond, as he signed a one year deal with Tampa Bay.  He’ll most likely be with Syracuse, taking over from David Broll as the primary enforcer (ironically the two fought each other a couple of times last season).

But, all was not totally lost, as New Jersey took care of a few of their free agents (DSP, Beau Bennett, Jon Merrill) and picked up Ben Lovejoy and Vern Fiddler.  And, three new vets who we’ll likely be seeing here come October:

Carter Camper#20 on the Big Board, the 27-year-old center spent all of last season with Hershey, picking up 34 points (9 goals, 25 assists) in 64 games.  He was second in the AHL in playoff scoring, scoring 6 times and assisting on 11 others in 21 games, and lead the AHL in playoff power play points (8).  He only has three games of NHL experience, all with Boston in 2011-12.  This will be his fifth AHL stop behind Providence, Springfield, Binghamton, and the Bears.  You can follow him on Twitter at @carter_camper.

Andrew MacwilliamThe 26-year-old defenseman spent all of last season in Manitoba, scoring once and picking up 14 assists in 72 games.  He started his career with Toronto after finishing his college career at North Dakota, getting in 12 games with the Maple Leafs during the 2014-15 season.

Karl StolleryAnother veteran signing on defense, the 28-year-old spent last season in San Jose with the Barracuda, where in 67 games he scored a career high 6 goals and 18 assists.  He started his career with the Avalanche organization, spending three seasons with Lake Erie before joining the Sharks.  He has some NHL experience, appearing in a combined 12 games with Colorado and San Jose in 2013-14 and 2014-15.  You can follow him on Twitter at @stolleryk.

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Offseason Notebook #4

This week in the Notebook:

-The first hint of Albany’s preseason schedule was announced on Wednesday: they will travel to Wilkes-Barre on October 6th to face the Penguins.

And two new sets of birds have joined the AHL fold:

-On Wednesday, the Springfield Thunderbirds, formerly the Portland Pirates,  were introduced to the world.  The name (and in my opinion, the logo) comes from a combination of previous AHL franchises (the Indians, then the Falcons) and a tribute to two local Air National Guard bases.  The bird looks like a newer, more dressed up version of the Falcons previous mascot Screech (who may or may not be previous?  We shall see).

-Yesterday, the former tenants of the Mass Mutual Center, the Falcons, were re-introduced as the Tucson Roadrunners.  Personally I’m a fan of the new logo, reminiscent of former Roadrunner teams that played in Arizona since the mid 1960s, through the old Western Hockey League, the WHA, the Pacific Hockey League, the IHL, and the ECHL.  Then there are the many Looney Tunes puns that could come out of this (Acme sponsorship, anyone?)…

The notebook may be closed for the next two weeks, as I plan on a separate draft entry (which I hope to have out by next Sunday afternoon/evening), followed up by the first Free Agent Tracker of the summer July 1st.

 

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Offseason Notebook #3

This week in the Notebook:

-On Tuesday, the full New Jersey preseason schedule was announced, and…again no game in Albany.  (Yes, four years later I’m still waiting for the make up from the lockout.)  The schedule begins on September 26th with a doubleheader of sorts…one squad will take on the Flyers in Newark, while the rest will travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens.  They play two at neutral sites…September 28th in Allentown against Philadelphia, and October 8th in West Point against Florida.  Two other matchups are at The Rock: October 1st against the Rangers and October 5th against the Islanders.  Full schedule can be found here.

-On Friday night, a trade with Florida went through that affected New Jersey’s cap hit and shook up the Albany roster.  The Devils acquired Marc Savard and a 2018 2nd round selection from the Panthers for Paul Thompson and Graham Black.  So why acquire a player who hasn’t been on ice since 2011?  Savard’s contract puts the Devils over the cap floor, and another draft selection for the future (between this year and 2018, New Jersey now has a total of 26 draft picks).  But it comes at a cost to Albany’s roster, which has seen four forwards leave before free agency has even begun.  It is most likely you will see both Thompson and Black in Springfield next year…and they will be coached by another familiar name in the Capital Region…

Segway to the latest news around the league…

-On Tuesday, former River Rats captain and assistant coach Geordie Kinnear was named head coach of the new Springfield franchise.  After spending a majority of his playing career with the River Rats, including the Calder Cup team in 1995, he retired as a player in 2001 due to injury and joined the coaching ranks, working as an assistant with the Rats during the last three years of the Carolina affiliation, then moving with the team to Charlotte, where he has remained behind the Checkers bench.

-And finally, break out the black spray paint can.  Congratulations to the Lake Erie Monsters, who finished off an amazing playoff run on Saturday night with their third sweep of the postseason, defeating Hershey 1-0 in overtime at home.  The Monsters, in their first season as a Columbus affiliate, won 15 of 17 playoff games, including sweeps of Ontario and the Bears, and finished the postseason on a 10 game winning streak.  Rookie Oliver Bjorkstrand was named MVP after scoring 10 goals in 17 games, including six game winners and three overtime winners, including the Cup clincher with just 1.9 seconds left in the first overtime of Game 4.

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