1. Monthly leaders
The American Hockey League’s statistical leaders for November:
11 – Ben Street, ABB
8 – Blair Jones, ABB
7 – Anton Lander, OKC
7 – Reid Boucher, ALB
7 – Tomas Jurco, GR
7 – Matt Fraser, PRO
7 – Markus Granlund, ABB
7 – Mike Hoffman, BNG
7 – Colton Sceviour, TEX
.864 – Springfield (9-1-1-0)
.833 – Abbotsford (12-2-1-0)
.833 – Grand Rapids (10-2-0-0)
.792 – Manchester (9-2-0-1)
.731 – Binghamton (9-3-0-1)
2. Strome cooking
It was a day of accolades for Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward Ryan Strome on Monday.
Three consecutive two-point games over the weekend helped Strome earn the CCM/AHL Player of the Week award, and his 15-point showing in 12 games during November earned him CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month honors as well.
Strome, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, enters December as the top-scoring rookie in the AHL with 18 assists and 25 points in 20 games.
The 20-year-old prospect was featured recently in the AHL Update column on NHL.com.
3. Back in the crease
A pair of former Bastien Award winners returned to the American Hockey League last week.
Jason LaBarbera, who was named the AHL’s outstanding goaltender in 2003-04 with the Hartford Wolf Pack and again in 2006-07 with the Manchester Monarchs, made his first AHL appearance in more than six years when he suited up for the Oklahoma City Barons last Wednesday night in Texas. LaBarbera stopped 39 of 41 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Stars.
LaBarbera, who then made 43 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss in San Antonio on Friday, was recalled by the Edmonton Oilers following an injury to Ilya Bryzgalov on Sunday.
LaBarbera, who has played in the NHL with Edmonton, Phoenix, Vancouver, Los Angeles and the New York Rangers, owns a record of 131-76-21 in 249 career AHL appearances and ranks seventh all-time with 28 shutouts, including a single-season record 13 in 2003-04.
Brad Thiessen, the AHL’s goaltender of the year in 2010-11, cleared AHL waivers last Thursday and signed with the Norfolk Admirals. Thiessen, who had begun 2013-14 in Finland, spent the previous four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, appearing in 149 AHL games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and posting a record of 88-49-6 with a 2.44 GAA, a .907 save percentage and 17 shutouts.
Last year with Wilkes-Barre, Thiessen led the AHL with a 1.38 GAA and a .952 save percentage in 12 Calder Cup Playoff appearances, helping the Penguins to a historic conference semifinal series victory over Providence after trailing the series three games to none.
Thiessen made his Admirals debut on Saturday and made 40 saves in a 3-2 loss to Providence.
The Albany Devils matched a franchise record for goals in a game last Saturday, finding the net eight times in an 8-6 win over Bridgeport.
It was a game to forget for both starting goaltenders. Bridgeport’s Kenny Reiter allowed eight goals on 32 shots before being relieved at 12:26 of the third period, while Albany’s Scott Wedgewood picked up the win despite giving up six goals on 15 shots.
The Devils, who played four seasons in Lowell (2006-10) before coming to Albany, scored eight goals in a game once previously, in an 8-1 win over Providence on Dec. 27, 2008.
The most goals in a game by an Albany AHL club remains nine: The Albany River Rats beat Rochester, 9-3, in the club’s inaugural home opener on Oct. 9, 1993, and earned a 9-5 win over the Adirondack Red Wings on Mar. 21, 1998.
5. Century mark
Cedrick Desjardins of the Syracuse Crunch won his 100th game in the American Hockey League last Saturday night, a 1-0 victory over the Adirondack Phantoms.
Desjardins, who was a Second Team AHL All-Star in 2009-10 with the Hamilton Bulldogs, is now 100-67-15 with 21 shutouts in 195 career AHL appearances.
He joins Toronto’s Drew MacIntyre (174), Adirondack’s Yann Danis (144), Abbotsford’s Joey MacDonald (143), Oklahoma City’s Jason LaBarbera (131), Springfield’s Mike McKenna (116) and Hamilton’s Dustin Tokarski (113) as active AHL goaltenders with at least 100 wins. (John Curry, who made one appearance for Iowa earlier this season, has 103 career wins.)
Desjardins had to wait a little longer than usual for his shot at number 100: the start of Saturday’s game was delayed 50 minutes after the Crunch experienced bus problems en route to Glens Falls.
6. Rieder’s digest
Tobias Rieder scored two power-play goals in his professional debut with the Portland Pirates on Oct. 9, but an injury suffered that night would keep him sidelined for a month.
Back healthy, the 20-year-old rookie has injected life in to the Pirates’ offense; Portland’s 5-0-1-1 run from Nov. 8-23 began with Rieder’s return to the lineup.
TheAHL.com profiled Rieder in the latest edition of AHL On The Beat.
7. Bear necessities
The Hershey Bears’ annual Teddy Bear Toss night at Giant Center on Sunday drew a deluge of 12,890 stuffed animals to the ice after Matt Watkins scored the Bears’ first goal of the game vs. Providence.
Kyle Beach made it rain both bears and hats in Rockford for their Teddy Bear Toss on Saturday night vs. Chicago. The IceHogs forward scored just 21 seconds into the game, and fans at the BMO Harris Bank Center responded sending more than 6,100 plush toys onto the ice. Beach then scored again early in the second period and completed the hat trick with a shorthanded goal at 17:00 of the middle frame.
Teddy Bear Tosses are a popular annual promotion in many AHL cities around the holidays. Bears and other stuffed toys are tossed onto the ice after the home team scores its first goal of the game, and the toys are collected for distribution to local charities.
8. Comets streak past Heat
The Utica Comets entered the weekend with the fewest standings points in the AHL (10), and had to travel some 3,000 miles for a two-game set against the Abbotsford Heat, who had won 13 of its previous 14 games and sat with the most points in the league (35).
So naturally, the Comets — top affiliate of Abbotsford’s provincial neighbors in Vancouver — swept the Heat away.
On Friday night, Pascal Pelletier tallied a goal and an assist and Joe Cannata made 35 saves for his first win of the season as Utica downed Abbotsford, 3-2. On Saturday, Kellan Lain scored his first two professional goals and Pelletier scored 2:07 into overtime to give the Comets a 4-3 victory.
Since opening its inaugural season at 0-8-1-1, Utica has won six of nine — including five straight road victories.
9. Keeping up with the Jones
When Martin Jones was recalled by the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 13, he was one of the top goaltenders in the AHL with a 9-2-2 record, a 2.24 GAA and a .927 save percentage with Manchester, which was humming along atop the Atlantic Division.
Starting each of the Monarchs’ last nine games, Berube has gone 6-2-1 and kept Manchester comfortably ahead of the rest of the division. The Monarchs are now 15-4-1-3 on the year, their .739 points percentage good for third in the entire AHL.
Berube, 22, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Kings in 2009 who played junior hockey with Montreal of the QMJHL. He spent the majority of his first two pro seasons with Ontario in the ECHL.
10. Alumni watch
Congratulations to AHL call-ups Erik Haula, Alex Grant and John Albert, who all made their National Hockey League debuts in the last week. The 2013-14 total now stands at 56. All three players found the scoresheet in their debuts.
Haula skated with Minnesota last Friday and assisted on the Wild’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Colorado. He was named the game’s third star.
Grant debuted with Anaheim on Saturday night and scored a goal in the Ducks’ 4-3 shootout loss at San Jose.
And Albert made his debut with Winnipeg on Monday at Madison Square Garden in New York and scored a goal to help the Jets past the Rangers, 5-2.