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Peca, Walker named All-Star honorary captains

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews announced today that Syracuse Crunch alumni Michael Peca and Scott Walker will serve as the honorary captains for the 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic, to be held January 31 and February 1 in Syracuse, N.Y. 

Each year, the All-Star Classic honorary captains join the participating teams in the locker room and on the benches during the event, and are recognized for their careers at the annual AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony. 

Michael Peca began his rookie professional season in Syracuse, tallying 34 points in 35 games with the Crunch in 1994-95. He went on to spend 15 years in the National Hockey League with Vancouver, Buffalo, the New York Islanders, Edmonton, Toronto and Columbus, appearing in 864 games and twice winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding defensive forward. Peca, who captained the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 and returned to the Finals with the Oilers in 2006, was also a member of Canada’s gold medal team at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. 

Scott Walker played 829 games in the NHL with Vancouver, Nashville, Carolina and Washington following two seasons in the AHL, which included a 1994-95 campaign in Syracuse that saw him total 52 points and 334 penalty minutes for the Crunch. Currently a player development consultant for the Canucks, Walker also spent the 1996 postseason in Syracuse, helping the Crunch to an improbable trip to the conference finals. Walker won an Ontario Hockey League championship as head coach in Guelph in 2013-14, and served as an assistant coach for Team Canada as it won gold at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships. 

Tickets for the two-day 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic are on sale now. Ticket prices range from $40-60 and can be purchased either in person at the Syracuse Crunch office located in the War Memorial Arena at 800 South State Street in Syracuse, by calling (315) 473-4444 or through all Ticketmaster outlets. 

The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 31 will keep its traditional format, with All-Stars from the Eastern Conference squaring off against All-Stars from the Western Conference in seven skills events. The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Challenge will take place on the evening of Feb. 1. Instead of a traditional 60-minute game, the AHL’s All-Stars will be divided into four teams, one representing each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific). The teams will then play a round-robin tournament featuring six games of nine minutes each; the first half of each game will be played at 4-on-4, and the second half at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin tournament will face off for the championship, a six-minute game played at 3-on-3. 

The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: Of the 679 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 BergeronBen BishopTroy BrouwerRyan CallahanZdeno CharaLogan CoutureJiri Hudler,Tyler JohnsonChris KunitzRyan MillerGustav NyquistZach PariseTuukka RaskPekka RinneBobby RyanCory SchneiderPatrick SharpJason SpezzaEric StaalP.K. Subban and Mats Zuccarello

In operation since 1936 and celebrating its 80th-anniversary season in 2015-16, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 14th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2014-15.