AHL Quick Hits: Chops, Hogs fire it up Sunday

The American Hockey League’s 73rd season got underway on Wednesday night with a pair of games… Graham Mink (3-2-5) and Keith Aucoin (1-4-5) each tallied five points as Hershey rolled by host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 8-4… Rookie forward Mikko Lehtonen netted the decisive shootout goal to push Providence past visiting Lowell, 4-3.

Wed 10/8
PROVIDENCE 4, Lowell 3 (SO)
Hershey 8, W-B/SCRANTON 4

Thu 10/9
No games scheduled

ahllive_300.jpgThe AHL’s opening weekend kicks off with seven games on Friday, including a West Division battle between Peoria and the new-look Iowa Chops at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines… 2007-08 AHL All-Rookie forward Bobby Ryan joins the Chops after registering 49 points in just 48 games for Portland last season, then leading the Pirates to the conference finals with 20 points in 16 postseason contests… The Chops will also feature former AHL MVP Eric Boguniecki, whose resume includes three 30-goal seasons in the AHL and 178 games of NHL experience… The Rivermen return forward Julian Talbot, who ranked fifth among league rookies with 50 points (24-26-50) a season ago… Peoria rookie defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy was a first-round pick (27th overall by Dallas) in 2006… The game will mark the AHL head coaching debuts for Peoria’s Davis Payne and Iowa’s Gord Dineen.

Arch-rivals Rochester and Syracuse launch their respective seasons with a home-and-home clash this weekend, all-time regular-season meetings number 149 and 150… The Crunch won their final 15 regular-season games a year ago, two shy of the AHL record, while the Americans are looking to rebound from a last-place showing in 2007-08… Stefan Meyer returns after recording a career-high 40 points (21-19-40) for Rochester last season… Rookie Keaton Ellerby, drafted 10th overall by Florida in 2007, joins the Amerks’ defense corps, which has also added 287-game NHL veteran and Rochester native Rory Fitzpatrick… 18-year-old forward Nikita Filatov, drafted sixth overall by Columbus this past summer, will begin the season in Syracuse… Derek MacKenzie, who tied for the team lead with 25 goals (25-24-49) in 2007-08, is back for the Crunch, as is 2008 AHL All-Star blueliner Clay Wilson.

The venerable Wachovia Spectrum begins its final season on Friday when the Philadelphia Phantoms host Bridgeport… The Phantoms will feature rookie forward Claude Giroux, the Flyers’ first-round draft pick (22nd overall) in 2006 who is coming off three straight 100-point junior seasons… Phantoms forward Jonathan Matsumoto posted 44 points (20-24-44) as a rookie last season and returns for first-year Philadelphia head coach John Paddock, who has led three different teams to a Calder Cup title… Bridgeport has added forwards Mike Iggulden and Kurtis McLean, coming off 20-goal and 50-point seasons for Worcester and Wilkes-Barre, respectively… Jesse Joensuu, a second-round pick by the N.Y. Islanders in 2006, begins his first North American season after debuting with Bridgeport in the final game of last season.

(all times Eastern)
Fri 10/10
Binghamton at Toronto, 7:00
Bridgeport at Philadelphia, 7:05
Hershey at Norfolk, 7:15
Syracuse at Rochester, 7:35
Peoria at Iowa, 8:05
Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
Quad City at Rockford, 8:30

Sat 10/11
Bridgeport at Albany, 7:00
Springfield at Hartford, 7:00
Worcester at Lowell, 7:00
Manchester at Portland, 7:00
Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Hershey at Norfolk, 7:15
Grand Rapids at Lake Erie, 7:30
Rochester at Syracuse, 7:30
Iowa at Peoria, 8:00
Milwaukee at San Antonio, 8:00
Rockford at Quad City, 8:05
Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
Chicago at Houston, 8:35

Sun 10/12
Bridgeport at Hartford, 4:00
Springfield at Providence, 4:05
Toronto at Lake Erie, 5:00
Iowa at Rockford, 5:05
Peoria at Quad City, 6:05
Binghamton at Rochester, 6:05

Mon 10/13
Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05

Tue 10/14
No games scheduled

David Krejci, who led Providence with 31 goals and 74 points in 2006-07, netted the game-winning goal to give Boston a 5-4 season-opening victory at Colorado on Thursday… Former AHL All-Stars Jonathan Cheechoo (2001) and Christian Ehrhoff (2005) combined for three goals and Devin Setoguchi also scored as San Jose upended Anaheim, 4-1.

565 — American Hockey League graduates on the 30 opening-night rosters released by the NHL on Thursday. In addition, there are 15 current NHL head coaches who are former AHL bench bosses.

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