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AHL Weekly Release: All-Star fan balloting underway

WEEKLY RELEASE #11

08allstar_1000.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … From now until January 6, American Hockey League fans logging on at theahl.com will be able to help decide which players will earn a trip to the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic, to be held in Binghamton, N.Y., on January 27-28.

The 2008 AHL All-Star Classic Fan Balloting presented by Reebok will determine the starting lineups for both the Canadian and PlanetUSA AHL All-Star teams, and a committee of AHL coaches will help complete the rosters. By virtue of leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to the 2007 Calder Cup championship, head coach Don Lever will guide the Canadian team; the coach whose club owns the best points percentage in the AHL after play on Jan. 13 will lead PlanetUSA.

The PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars had dropped six of the previous seven mid-season classics before their thrilling 7-6 win over the Canadians in Toronto last year, and should once again have plenty of offensive weapons on their roster in Binghamton. Syracuse’s Joakim Lindstrom, Springfield’s Rob Schremp, Iowa’s Toby Petersen, Hartford’s Greg Moore, Manchester’s Gabe Gauthier and 2007 AHL All-Star Game MVP Brett Sterling of Chicago are all among the PlanetUSA-eligible skaters on the league’s scoring leaderboard.

Several of the top point-getters among AHL defensemen are American-born, including Portland’s Brian Salcido, Hartford’s Andrew Hutchinson, Providence’s Matt Lashoff, Houston’s Erik Reitz and Manchester teammates Peter Harrold and rookie Brian Boyle. The PlanetUSA roster could also benefit from several other standout rookies, including Bobby Ryan of Portland, Sergei Kostitsyn of Hamilton, Providence blueliner Matt Hunwick and Russian forwards Alexander Nikulin and Ilya Zubov of the host Binghamton Senators. Among those in the running for PlanetUSA’s three goaltending spots are Providence rookie Tuukka Rask, Milwaukee’s Pekka Rinne, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Ty Conklin and Philadelphia’s Brian Boucher.

On the Canadian side, Rockford’s Martin St. Pierre leads the AHL in scoring with 36 points, followed closely by Manchester rookie Teddy Purcell and Providence’s Pascal Pelletier. Chicago’s Jason Krog, Jesse Schultz and Steve Martins are all averaging better than a point per game, as are Hartford’s Pierre Parenteau and Nigel Dawes, Norfolk’s Kyle Wanvig and Toronto’s David Ling.

Canadian-born defensemen having noteworthy seasons include two-time AHL All-Star Lawrence Nycholat in Binghamton, Alexandre Picard with Philadelphia, Derrick Walser in Toronto, Micki DuPont in Peoria and T.J. Kemp for Springfield. Goaltenders up for consideration should include Albany’s Michael Leighton, Philly’s Scott Munroe, Quad City’s Curtis McElhinney, Springfield’s Jeff Deslauriers, Manitoba’s Drew MacIntyre and Binghamton’s Jeff Glass.

Of the 427 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Briere, Zdeno Chara, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Miikka Kiprusoff, Chris Kunitz, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Steve Sullivan.

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WINTER WONDERLAND … Sunday’s game between the Hershey Bears and the Binghamton Senators was postponed due to inclement winter weather. It will be made up this Wednesday, Dec. 19.

Hazardous conditions also forced a shuffling of events at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell. As a result, the game between the Devils and the Worcester Sharks originally scheduled for Wednesday will be played instead on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE … Bridgeport defenseman Jamie Fraser has played the most games of anyone in the American Hockey League this season without being assessed a penalty. The second-year pro has eight points and no penalty minutes in 25 games. Playing by the rules should come naturally to Fraser: his cousin Ryan is an AHL referee, and his uncle Kerry has officiated more games than any other referee in NHL history.

Rookie center Perttu Lindgren has also been penalty-free this season, appearing in 24 games for the Iowa Stars.

Recent 10-goal games
12/15/07CHI 10, IOW 2
3/24/07OMA 10, HOU 2
12/16/06RCH 10, BNG 4
11/4/06CHI 10, PEO 5
12/30/05CHI 11, PEO 5
12/18/02HFD 10, UTA 6
12/8/02HAM 15, CLE 1
11/30/02WOR 11, PRO 0

YOU’LL GO DOWN IN HISTORYKevin Doell made a bid at the AHL record books on Saturday during Chicago’s meeting with Iowa at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Doell, who entered the contest with two goals in 26 games on the year, scored three times in 77 seconds early in the second period of what would be a 10-2 victory for the Wolves.

The AHL record for the fastest three goals by one player is 57 seconds, established by Bill Jennings of the Indianapolis Capitals in 1941. Doell’s first two goals came eight seconds apart, just shy of the league record of two goals in five seconds set by Hershey’s Norm Corcoran in 1951 and matched later that decade by Providence’s Jim Bartlett and Springfield’s Dennis Olson.

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN … In Saturday’s win over Iowa, Chicago scored its 10 goals on just 17 shots… Rockford’s current 10-game points streak (7-0-0-3) has moved the IceHogs into first place in the West Division with 40 points… Joakim Lindstrom has 18 points in his last seven games for Syracuse after his six-point effort in Saturday’s 9-2 win over Hamilton… Chris Minard and Jonathan Filewich each scored twice and John Curry made 37 saves as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton beat a flu-riddled Albany club, 8-1, in Glens Falls, N.Y., on Saturday night… 2007 AHL All-Star Jason Jaffray scored a goal in his NHL debut and assisted on fellow Manitoba call-up Mason Raymond’s first NHL goal in Vancouver’s 3-2 win at Anaheim on Dec. 12… Milwaukee’s Pekka Rinne has allowed exactly one goal in each of his five starts during December (4-1-0, 1.01, .964)… Darrell Powe’s shorthanded goal was the only offense in Philadelphia’s 1-0 win over Norfolk on Saturday; one night later, Ryan Carter scored shorthanded for the only goal in Portland’s 1-0 victory over Springfield… The Worcester Sharks are still looking for the first shutout in team history after rookie Taylor Dakers fell 3:24 short in a 5-1 win over Manchester on Sunday… Jimmy Howard is 7-3-0 (1.68, .932) with two shutouts in his last 10 decisions for Grand Rapids… Providence’s league-leading 23-4-2-0 record includes a 9-0-0-0 mark against teams from outside the Atlantic Division.

The entire American Hockey League extends best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy holiday season.