The American Hockey League’s 72nd season got underway on Wednesday night with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posting a 5-4 win over Hershey… Chris Minard recorded a natural hat trick for the Penguins, who have hosted the AHL’s season opener eight years in a row (4-4-0).
W-B/SCRANTON 5, Hershey 4
The first weekend of the new campaign begins with three games on Friday, including an Atlantic Division battle between Springfield and Portland… The Falcons kick off their new partnership with the Edmonton Oilers with a roster that features former first-round draft picks Devan Dubnyk (14th in 2004), Ryan O’Marra (15th in 2005), Rob Schremp (25th in 2004) and Ladislav Smid (9th in 2004), who spent the entire 2006-07 season in the NHL… Portland is coming off a season that saw eight of last year’s Pirates skate for Anaheim during the Ducks’ run to the Stanley Cup… Pirates newcomer Andrew Ebbett finished fifth in the AHL in rookie scoring for Binghamton in 2006-07… Portland’s Jason King recorded 149 points in 191 AHL games during four seasons (2002-06) in the Vancouver organization.
The AHL returns to Cleveland on Saturday as the Lake Erie Monsters host Grand Rapids at the Quicken Loans Arena (7:30 ET, FSN Ohio)… Eric Healey, a two-time AHL All-Star, joins the Monsters with 197 goals and 428 points on his AHL resume… Chris Stewart, Colorado’s first-round draft pick in 2006, piled up 169 points over his last two junior seasons at Kingston (OHL)… Among the Griffins’ additions this year is defenseman Jakub Kindl, Detroit’s first-rounder from 2005… Jimmy Howard was 21-21-3 in net for Grand Rapids last season with six shutouts, one off the league lead… The game will feature the AHL head coaching debuts of Lake Erie’s Joe Sacco and Grand Rapids’ Mike Stothers.
The AHL’s other two new teams go head-to-head on Saturday as the Quad City Flames host the Rockford IceHogs… Both organizations are coming off impressive 2006-07 regular seasons but disappointing playoff ousters… Calgary’s prospects won the West Division in Omaha last season, but fell to Iowa in the first round of the playoffs; Chicago’s AHL’ers racked up 108 points in Norfolk, but could not get past Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Round 1… Carsen Germyn and Dustin Boyd, who shared the team lead with 60 points each last season, are back to lead Quad City’s offense… The Flames’ David Van der Gulik compiled a plus-27 rating as a rookie last year… Rockford’s roster includes rookies Jack Skille and Jake Dowell, both members of the University of Wisconsin’s 2006 NCAA championship team… Corey Crawford posted 38 victories last season, ranking second in the AHL.
(all times Eastern)
Norfolk at Philadelphia, 7:05… Springfield at Portland, 7:05… Syracuse at Rochester, 7:35
Rochester at Toronto, 4:30… Bridgeport at Hartford, 7:00… Worcester at Springfield, 7:00… Albany at Binghamton, 7:05… Lowell at Portland, 7:05… Syracuse at W-B/Scranton, 7:05… Grand Rapids at Lake Erie, 7:30… Providence at Manchester, 7:35… Milwaukee at Peoria, 8:00… Iowa at San Antonio, 8:00… Rockford at Quad City, 8:05… Chicago at Houston, 8:35
Manchester at Springfield, 4:00… Peoria at Quad City, 4:05… W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 5:05… Hamilton at Rochester, 6:05
No games scheduled
No games scheduled
On Thursday, 2007 AHL All-Star Ryan Callahan scored a goal in the N.Y. Rangers’ 5-2 win over Florida… 1998 AHL All-Star Daniel Briere scored twice as Philadelphia edged Calgary, 3-2… 1999 AHL All-Star Martin St. Louis recorded three assists and 2003 Calder Cup Playoffs MVP Johan Holmqvist made 26 saves as Tampa Bay beat New Jersey, 3-1… Daniel Winnik scored a goal in his NHL debut, helping Phoenix to a 3-2 win over St. Louis… A total of 556 AHL graduates began the 2007-08 season on National Hockey League rosters.
BY THE NUMBERS:
4 — Current AHL teams based in Illinois, tying New York for the most of any state or province… Quad City and Rockford join Peoria and Chicago as residents of the Prairie State in 2007-08.