SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … News and notes from the week ending Jan. 13:
BEARS, PENGUINS HEADING OUTSIDE
The ice is down, the boards are up, and the 2013 Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic is just days away.
As part of the celebration of their 75th season in the American Hockey League, the Hershey Bears will host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at historic Hersheypark Stadium on Sunday evening at 5 p.m. ET. The game will be the fifth outdoor game in AHL history, following successful events in Syracuse (2010), Hartford (2011), Philadelphia (2012) and Hamilton (2012).
This will be the first outdoor ice hockey game ever at Hersheypark Stadium, which opened in 1939. The Penguins are participating in their first outdoor game; the Bears were the visitors in a 5-4 overtime loss to Adirondack at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia last January.
Tickets for the 2013 Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic, which include admission to the Bears-Penguins alumni game on Saturday afternoon as well as a day pass for Hersheypark, are still available from the Giant Center box office, by calling 717-508-BEAR or by visiting ticketmaster.com.
CAMPING IN JANUARY
With the National Hockey League preparing to begin an abbreviated 2012-13 season this weekend, many of the players who have been continuing their development in the AHL during the last three months are getting a chance to make an impression for their parent clubs.
To date, more than 170 players have been summoned from the American Hockey League to participate in NHL training camps.
The NHL season begins with 13 games on Saturday.
As the American Hockey League’s 30 team rosters sort themselves out with the return of the NHL, the AHL will name the playing rosters for the 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic later this week.
Shortly after the All-Star teams are named, 2013 AHL All-Star Classic Fan Balloting presented by CCM will get under way, with fans selecting the starting lineups for the Eastern and Western Conference teams.
The 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic will be held January 27-28 in Providence, R.I.
KANE REMAINS ABLE
Sunday’s big stage at Hersheypark Stadium will be nothing new for Bears captain Boyd Kane, who reached another career plateau last weekend when he became the 13th player in American Hockey League history with 900 regular-season games to his credit.
Kane’s AHL debut came on Nov. 20, 1998, when his Hartford Wolf Pack visited the Philadelphia Phantoms at the First Union Center (now known as the Wells Fargo Center) before 18,907 fans – at the time the second-largest crowd in AHL history. On June 10, 2005, as captain of the Phantoms, Kane accepted the Calder Cup in the same building in front of 20,103 fans, still the largest AHL playoff crowd ever. And on Jan. 6, 2012, Kane and the Bears were the visitors at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia with 45,653 fans in attendance – the largest turnout in AHL history by more than double the next-highest total.
Kane, who is also tied for second place all-time with 123 career Calder Cup Playoff games played, has suited up for Hartford (1998-2002), Springfield (2002-03), Philadelphia (2003-05, 06-09) and Hershey (2005-06, 09- ) in his AHL career, and is a three-time champion with the 2005 Phantoms, 2006 Bears and 2010 Bears.
Texas’s 3-0 win at Oklahoma City on Sunday was the Stars’ sixth consecutive victory, setting a new club record. The team had previously won five in a row on four different occasions, most recently from Mar. 20 to Apr. 1, 2011.
Charlotte capped a three-game weekend road trip with a 2-1 overtime win in Houston on Sunday to remain two points ahead of Texas atop the South Division. The Checkers’ fifth straight victory tied the franchise mark set in November 2011.
Portland came into the week with eight consecutive home wins, the longest such streak in the AHL this season and tied for the longest in the club’s 20-year history. The Pirates, who have won 13 of their last 15 games overall, host Connecticut on Tuesday and Saturday.
Syracuse, which had a nine-game road winning streak earlier this season, has now won six in a row away from home with a visit to Rochester on tap for this Friday night. The Crunch are a league-best 16-3-0-2 on the road.
St. John’s brought an end to its seven-game home losing streak on Sunday with a 4-2 win over Toronto. It was the IceCaps’ first victory at Mile One Centre since they shut out Providence, 6-0, on Nov. 25.
FIVE TO WATCH
Match-ups to look forward to in the week ahead:
Grand Rapids at Charlotte, Wednesday and Thursday (7 ET) – Western Conference division leaders collide at the Time Warner Cable Arena as the Griffins make their only visit of the season to Charlotte. The Checkers erased an early 4-1 deficit and defeated Grand Rapids, 6-4, back on Oct. 26 in the teams’ only previous meeting, with Chris Terry scoring twice and Marc-Andre Gragnani notching four assists.
Texas at Chicago, Wednesday (8 ET) and Friday (8:30 ET) – Texas begins a four-game, six-day trip to Illinois with a pair of games at Chicago, the first meetings of the season between the teams. The Stars have won six in a row and are 19-5-3-1 in their last 28 outings, closing in on the top spot in the South Division. The Wolves, on a three-game winning streak after a sweep in Abbotsford last weekend, are two points out of eighth place with more games remaining (42) than any other team in the conference.
Toronto at Binghamton, Friday (7 ET) – It’s a possible Calder Cup Finals preview as Toronto visits Binghamton. The Marlies (.653) enter the week percentage points behind Charlotte (.654) for the best record in the Western Conference, while the Senators (.714) are just behind Syracuse (.716) for the top mark in the East. Toronto has lost two of its last three after a 12-1-1-1 tear, while Binghamton is 10-2-0-2 in its last 14.
Connecticut at Springfield, Friday (7 ET) – Connecticut travels up to Springfield to take on the Northeast Division-leading Falcons on Friday night. The Whale have been outscored 15-2 by the Falcons in two home games, but have won two of their first three trips to the MassMutual Center this season. Springfield forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault has 1-8-9 in five games against his former Connecticut teammates in the season series.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Hershey, Sunday (5 ET) – It’s more than just the spectacle of playing outside: there are critical standings points on the line as these East Division foes meet for the ninth of 12 times on the year. The Bears enter the week tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference with a three-point cushion on the 10th-place Penguins, who have dropped six of eight to their in-state rivals this season.
Tuesday, Jan. 15
Connecticut at Portland — SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) 7 ET/4 PT
Hamilton at Abbotsford — SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) 10 ET/7 PT
Wednesday, Jan. 16
Rochester at Binghamton — SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) 7 ET/4 PT
Texas at Chicago — Comcast Network 100 (Chicago) 7 CT
Hamilton at Abbotsford — SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) 10 ET/7 PT
Thursday, Jan. 17
Grand Rapids at Charlotte — SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92) 7 ET/4 PT
Friday, Jan. 18
Syracuse at Rochester — Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Central/Western NY) 7 ET
Manchester at Worcester — Charter TV 3 (Worcester) 7:30 ET
Peoria at Rockford — 23 Weather Now (WIFR-DT 23.2 Rockford) 7 CT
Texas at Chicago — MY50 Chicago 7:30 CT; ESPN America 01:30 GMT
Saturday, Jan. 19
Grand Rapids at Rockford — 23 Weather Now (WIFR-DT 23.2 Rockford) 7 CT
Houston at Chicago — The U Too (WCIU-DT 26.2 Chicago) 7 CT
There have been 22 hat tricks and 81 shutouts recorded in the American Hockey League through Jan. 6:
Last week’s hat tricks (1)
Brett Sterling, CHI Jan. 11 at Abbotsford
Last week’s shutouts (5)
Justin Peters, CHA Jan. 11 at OKC
Brad Thiessen, WBS Jan. 11 vs. Hershey
Matt Climie, CHI Jan. 12 at Abbotsford
Jack Campbell, TEX Jan. 13 at OKC
Philipp Grubauer/Dany Sabourin, HER Jan. 13 vs. Connecticut
Friday’s 11-game schedule will mark the midway point of the 1,140-game regular season… Manchester’s Linden Vey brings a seven-game scoring streak into the new week, tallying 11 points – all assists – during that span… Graham Mink signed a tryout with Providence last week and scored the winning goal in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Manchester on Sunday, the 244th goal and 494th point of his AHL career… Bryan Helmer, who leads all AHL defensemen in career points (562) and games (1,093), signed with the Springfield Falcons last week for his 19th season in the league… Portland rookie Brendan Shinnimin tallied seven points (4-3-7) in four games from Jan. 4-12… Texas’s Matt Fraser, who finished second in the AHL with 37 goals as a rookie last season, has five scored goals in his last five games and 17 on the year… Matt Climie turned aside 56 of 57 shots in backstopping Chicago to 3-1 and 1-0 wins at Abbotsford over the weekend… Brett Sterling scored three first-period goals for the Wolves in Friday’s victory, his fifth career AHL hat trick but first since Nov. 29, 2007… Sergey Andronov scored the game-winning goals for Peoria on a penalty shot Friday vs. Milwaukee and in overtime Saturday at Grand Rapids, then netted the clinching shootout goal at Milwaukee on Sunday… After trailing at the first intermission in just three of its first 33 games – fewest in the AHL – Oklahoma City has been down through 20 minutes in each of its last five outings… In its last five games, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has scored just seven goals but allowed only six… Referees Chris Ciamaga and Chris Brown and linesmen Bob Goodman and Scott Pomento have been selected to work Sunday’s outdoor game in Hershey.