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AHL Weekly Release: Rookie class of ’08 making waves

WEEKLY RELEASE #5

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League once again appears to be the beneficiary of a talented group of rookies in 2007-08, with several first-year pros beginning to make their case to become NHL stars of tomorrow.

Last year’s freshmen included Brett Sterling, whose 55 goals for the Chicago Wolves represented the third-highest total ever for an AHL rookie. Sterling spent the first month of this season in the National Hockey League with the Atlanta Thrashers, and David Krejci, Ryan Callahan, Matt Moulson, Rob Schremp and David Bolland have also seen NHL action this season after strong rookie showings in the AHL in 2006-07.

So far this year, four of the top eight overall scorers in the AHL are rookies, led by Syracuse Crunch forward Derick Brassard with 17 points (4g, 13a) in 14 games. Brassard, 20, was the sixth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and was named the Rbk Edge/AHL Rookie of the Month for October. Teddy Purcell (pictured, above right) of the Manchester Monarchs has five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 11 games after helping the University of Maine reach the Frozen Four last season. Purcell, 22, was named the Hockey East conference’s rookie of the year in 2006-07.

Philadelphia teammates Jonathan Matsumoto and Kyle Greentree are tied for the Phantoms’ lead with 14 points each in 12 games. Matsumoto, 21, is coming off a stellar collegiate career at Bowling Green, while Greentree was the team’s top scorer in each of his three seasons at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

In addition to Syracuse and Philadelphia, three other AHL teams are currently led in scoring by rookies. Sergei Kostitsyn, who finished third in the OHL with 131 points for London last season, has begun his pro career with 12 points in 11 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Jerome Samson, who scored a goal in 11 straight games at one point for Val d’Or (QMJHL) last season, leads the Albany River Rats with nine points on the year. And Evan Brophey, a third-round draft choice by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005, is currently tops on the Rockford IceHogs with eight assists and nine points.

Binghamton’s Brian Lee (1-8-9) and Manitoba’s Luc Bourdon (3-5-8) were selected ninth and 10th overall, respectively, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Today, they are the top two scorers among AHL rookie defensemen. Blueliners Marc-Andre Gragnani of Rochester, Brian Boyle of Manchester and Kristopher Letang of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are also having quick starts to their rookie seasons.

In goal, 2005 first-round draft choice Tuukka Rask is 6-1-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average in his first seven professional starts, helping the Providence Bruins into first place in the Atlantic Division. Matt Keetley won his pro debut with Quad City on Oct. 6, and has spent the better part of the first month of the season in the NHL with the Calgary Flames.

The AHL presents the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award each year to the player voted to be the league’s outstanding rookie. Previous winners include Terry Sawchuk, Roger Crozier, Darryl Sutter, Pelle Lindbergh, Steve Thomas, Ron Hextall, Brett Hull, Darcy Tucker and Daniel Briere.

 

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LOOKING OUT FOR #1 … Defenseman Erik Johnson, the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, has been assigned to the Peoria Rivermen by the parent St. Louis Blues for a conditioning stint.

Johnson, 19, missed 10 games with a foot fracture before returning to the Blues’ lineup on Sunday night. He is scheduled to play for the Rivermen at Iowa on Tuesday.

OH MY DARLING, CLEMMENSEN … Toronto netminder Scott Clemmensen improved to 6-0-0 on the season with Saturday’s 5-2 win at Hartford. Clemmensen has a 2.00 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage to go along with his unblemished record.

Clemmensen’s six victories are one more than he recorded over the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons combined, when he went a combined 5-6-4 in 19 NHL appearances and two AHL tune-ups while serving as the back-up to New Jersey Devils workhorse Martin Brodeur.

SCHOOL’S IN SESSION … The first school-day matinee of the season in the AHL takes place this Wednesday when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers host Worcester in their annual Cool Fun 101 game. Students in attendance will receive an educational booklet with Sound Tigers questions incorporating topics such as geography, math, science and other subjects that pertain to the classroom curriculum.

Game time at the Arena at Harbor Yard is set for 11:00 a.m.

ETC. … Toronto forward David Ling has recorded a point in each of the Marlies’ first 10 games this season, tying for the AHL lead with 13 assists and ranking tied for fourth with 16 points… Clarke MacArthur has scored a goal in five straight games for Rochester… Manchester’s Matt Moulson earned his first NHL recall on Thursday – his 24th birthday – then scored a goal in his debut with Los Angeles in a 5-2 win over San Jose on Friday… Earlier in the week, rookie Devin Setoguchi was recalled from Worcester and scored twice in his NHL debut for San Jose… After Frederic Cassivi had started the first six games of the season for Hershey, Daren Machesney got the call on Friday and defeated Albany, 2-0, making 36 saves for his first career AHL shutout… Jesse Schultz recorded a hat trick in Chicago’s 7-1 win at Quad City on Friday… Syracuse forward Joakim Lindstrom had his 11-game scoring streak snapped in Saturday’s 4-3 loss at Binghamton… Brian Boucher and Scott Munroe combined for a 32-save shutout as Philadelphia defeated Worcester, 3-0, on Saturday night, the Phantoms’ first shared shutout since Mar. 23, 2001… Rockford played its home opener in front of a capacity crowd of 6,436 at the MetroCentre on Friday night… San Antonio leads the AHL with six shorthanded goals, one more than they scored all of last season… Portland played five straight overtime games before Saturday’s 3-2 regulation loss to Providence… Grand Rapids has allowed seven goals this season while skating two men down… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 2-1 shootout win over Norfolk on Saturday was the Penguins’ 16th straight regular-season home victory over the Admirals… Nine of Manchester’s 11 games this season have been decided by one goal… Binghamton has won four in a row for the first time since Apr. 2-8, 2006… AHL referee Conrad Hache worked his final game on Sunday; he has been named the new director of officiating for the Ontario Hockey League.