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PlanetUSA rallies for shootout win

MANCHESTER, N.H. … Down four goals after the first period, the PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars rallied for a 5-4 shootout victory over the Canadian AHL All-Stars in the 2005 AHL All-Star Game, played tonight in Manchester, N.H.

Tomas Plekanec of the Hamilton Bulldogs started the PlanetUSA rally at the 3:34 mark of the second period, then added a goal in the shootout to earn honors as the Dodge Most Valuable Player of the game. The PlanetUSA All-Stars earned the sweep of the weekend event after winning Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition by a score of 17-13.

The game was witnessed by a capacity crowd of 9,916 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena, as well as national television audiences in the United States on ESPN2 and in Canada on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS.

Kyle Wellwood of the St. John’s Maple Leafs, Michel Ouellet of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Eric Perrin of the Hershey Bears and Rene Bourque of the Norfolk Admirals staked the Canadians to an early 4-0 lead, but PlanetUSA responded to earn the win and snap a five-game losing streak in the AHL All-Star Game.

After Plekanec cut the deficit to 4-1, Andy Hilbert of the Providence Bruins netted his fourth career AHL All-Star goal and Binghamton Senators rookie Brandon Bochenski made it 4-3 at the 8:33 mark of the second. Mikko Koivu of the Houston Aeros then finished off a nifty give-and-go to tie the score with 10:18 left in regulation to tie the score.

The game went directly to a shootout, where Rochester Americans goaltender Ryan Miller followed up his shutout effort in the third period by stopping Jason Spezza of Binghamton, Wellwood and Chuck Kobasew of Lowell in the shootout. PlanetUSA went 3-for-3 in the shootout against the Manchester Monarchs’ Mathieu Garon.

The road to the Calder Cup 2005 Playoffs continues when the American Hockey League’s 69th season resumes on Thursday night.