2008 PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team announced

08allstar-rbk.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass.The American Hockey League announced today the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team roster for the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Reebok, to be played later this month at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, N.Y.

The team comprises 24 players – 13 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders – born outside of Canada; the Canadian team was announced on Wednesday. AHL fans determined the starting lineups via on-line balloting at theahl.com, while a committee of AHL coaches selected the remainder of the rosters.

All 29 AHL teams are represented by at least one All-Star.

Among the members of the PlanetUSA team are 16 first-time AHL All-Stars and six former first-round draft picks, including standout rookies Tuukka Rask of the Providence Bruins, Bobby Ryan of the Portland Pirates and Brian Lee of the host Binghamton Senators. Brett Sterling of the Chicago Wolves, the MVP of the 2007 AHL All-Star Game and the AHL’s rookie of the year in 2006-07, was voted into the PlanetUSA starting lineup for the second year in a row.

Albany River Rats forward Keith Aucoin was selected to captain the PlanetUSA team, his third consecutive and career AHL All-Star Classic appearance.

The PlanetUSA coaching staff will come from the AHL team with the best points percentage at the end of play on Sunday, January 13. The Providence Bruins (.824) currently lead the Toronto Marlies (.771) for that honor.

The 2008 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Reebok will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League competing in the 2008 CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 27 (7:00 ET), and the 2008 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 28 (7:00 ET). The event will be televised nationally in the United States and Canada.

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, Brad Boyes, Daniel Briere, Zdeno Chara, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Jiri Hudler, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Steve Sullivan.

2008 PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team

Keith Aucoin, Albany ("C")
Jonathan Ericsson, Grand Rapids
Jimmy Howard, Grand Rapids
Gabe Gauthier, Manchester
Peter Harrold, Manchester
x-Tuukka Rask, Providence
T.J. Hensick, Lake Erie
x-Matt Lashoff, Providence
Pekka Rinne, Milwaukee
x-Joakim Lindstrom, Syracuse
Brian Lee, Binghamton
Greg Moore, Hartford
x-Erik Reitz, Houston
Joe Motzko, Hershey
Brian Salcido, Portland
Toby Petersen, Iowa
Anton Stralman, Toronto
Jared Ross, Philadelphia
Clay Wilson, Syracuse  
x-Bobby Ryan, Portland
Rob Schremp, Springfield
x-Brett Sterling, Chicago
Jeff Taffe, W-B/Scranton
Petr Vrana, Lowell    x-starters

Head Coach: TBD
Assistant Coach: TBD
Athletic Therapist: Domenic Nicoletta, Binghamton Senators
Equipment Manager: Tom Severance, Binghamton Senators

2008 PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team Starters

Tuukka Rask, Goaltender (Providence Bruins):
A first-round draft pick (21st overall) in 2005, rookie Tuukka Rask has helped Providence to the best record in the AHL over the first half of the 2007-08 season. Despite making 13 of his first 17 AHL starts on the road, the 20-year-old Rask ranks third in the league with a 2.04 goals-against average to go along with his 14-3-0 record and .907 save percentage. The Savonlinna, Finland, native won his NHL debut for Boston on Nov. 20 and is 2-1-0 in four games for the parent Bruins.

Matt Lashoff, Defense (Providence Bruins):

2007 AHL All-Rookie defenseman Matt Lashoff has tallied four goals and 16 assists for 20 points and owns a plus-9 rating in 28 games for Providence this season. Selected 22nd overall by Boston in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the 21-year-old native of East Greenbush, N.Y., has skated in nine games for the parent Bruins this year and netted his first career NHL goal as part of a 5-2 win over Atlanta on Dec. 31, 2007. Lashoff made highlight reels across North America for his breakaway goal in last year’s All-Star Skills Competition.

Erik Reitz, Defense (Houston Aeros):

In his sixth professional season – all with the Minnesota Wild organization – Erik Reitz stands as the only AHL defenseman currently leading his team in scoring, having collected seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points in 27 games. The 25-year-old Detroit native paces the Aeros with a plus-10 rating and has notched nine multiple-point showings, including a pair of three-point nights. Reitz, a Calder Cup champion as a rookie with Houston in 2003, will be appearing in his first AHL All-Star Classic.

Joakim Lindstrom, Forward (Syracuse Crunch):

In his third full season with Syracuse, Joakim Lindstrom has been one of the Crunch’s most consistent scorers in 2007-08, leading the team with 15 goals, 23 assists and 38 points in 29 games. The 24-year-old native of Skelleftea, Sweden, has already put together scoring streaks of 11 and eight games this season and matched an AHL season high with six points vs. Manitoba on Dec. 15, 2007. Columbus’ second-round draft pick in 2002, Lindstrom has also tallied six points in nine games with the Blue Jackets this season.

Bobby Ryan, Forward (Portland Pirates):

Selected second overall in the 2005 NHL draft behind only Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan notched a point in 16 of his first 22 games as a rookie for Portland this season, including a four-game goal-scoring streak from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1. The 20-year-old native of Camden, N.J., remains among the AHL’s rookie leaders with 24 points (10g, 14a) in 25 games this season, while also spending significant time in the NHL with Anaheim. Ryan has recorded five points in 13 games for the Ducks, scoring a goal in his NHL debut on Sept. 29 vs. Los Angeles in London, England.

Brett Sterling, Forward (Chicago Wolves):

Currently third in the AHL with 21 goals in 28 games, Chicago’s Brett Sterling continues to establish himself as one of the AHL’s most gifted young forwards. The 23-year-old native of Los Angeles has netted at least one goal in 14 of his 28 games this season, including six multiple-goal performances, one hat trick and four game-winners. Sterling, the 2007 AHL All-Star Game MVP, won the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie in 2006-07, and made his NHL debut with Atlanta this season, tallying one goal and two assists in 10 games.

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