The American Hockey League’s 71st season got underway on Wednesday night with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton posting a 3-2 overtime win over Manitoba… Erik Christensen, who scored four goals on opening night last year, netted the winner for the Penguins, who have hosted the AHL’s season opener seven years in a row (3-4-0).
WILKES-BARRE 3, Manitoba 2 (OT)
Grand Rapids finished first overall in 2005-06, while San Antonio made some of the biggest waves in the offseason… The teams collide Friday night at the AT&T Center (8:00 ET), where the Griffins have won six straight visits and 12 of 16 all-time… The Rampage’s additions include reigning AHL MVP Donald MacLean and 2006 Second Team All-Star defenseman Bryan Helmer, both of whom skated in Grand Rapids last year… San Antonio’s group of goalies includes former AHL All-Stars David LeNeveu and Philippe Sauve, as well as rookie Josh Tordjman, who led Moncton to the Memorial Cup final last year… The Griffins’ big additions were Matt Hussey, who led East Division champ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in scoring last year; Scott Barney, coming off a 32-goal season in Chicago; and former AHL All-Star Josh Langfeld, who spent the entire 2005-06 season in the NHL.
Coming off a rookie season in which he won the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s coach of the year, Kevin Dineen leads Portland in defense of its Atlantic Division title beginning Friday, when the Pirates host the first-year Worcester Sharks (7:05 ET)… Portland posted a 53-win regular season and was one goal away from a trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 2006, but last year’s top two scorers, All-Rookie Ryan Shannon and Second Team All-Star Dustin Penner, have begun the new season in Anaheim… The Sharks are bringing AHL hockey back to Worcester after a one-year absence, with Roy Sommer beginning his ninth year at the helm of San Jose’s top affiliate… The Sharks’ roster features two newcomers with Calder Cup rings in Graham Mink (2006) and Mathieu Darche (2004).
New eras collide at the Tsongas Arena on Saturday night (7:05 ET) when the Lowell Devils kick off their inaugural campaign against the Albany River Rats… After a 13-year affiliation with Albany, the New Jersey Devils purchased the Lowell franchise this summer, while the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche moved their prospects from the Mill City to New York’s capital… Matt Murley, an Albany-area native and collegian (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), joins the River Rats this year after playing 41 NHL games for Pittsburgh in 2005-06… Lowell rookies Jordan Parise and Stephen Gionta and fifth-year pro Mike Pandolfo all have brothers who play for New Jersey.
(all times Eastern)
Norfolk at Philadelphia, 7:05 (at Wachovia Center)… Worcester at Portland, 7:05… Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:30…Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30… Albany at Rochester, 7:35… Grand Rapids at San Antonio, 8:00… Omaha at Peoria, 8:30
Manitoba at Toronto, 4:00… Springfield at Hartford, 7:00… Syracuse at Binghamton, 7:05… Albany at Lowell, 7:05… Providence at Portland, 7:05… Hershey at Wilkes-Barre, 7:05… Worcester at Manchester, 7:35… Chicago at Peoria, 8:00… Iowa at San Antonio, 8:00… Omaha at Milwaukee, 8:30… Grand Rapids at Houston, 8:35
Bridgeport at Binghamton, 5:05… Iowa at Houston, 6:05… Manitoba at Rochester, 6:05
No games scheduled
No games scheduled
Two-time AHL All-Star Kyle Wellwood recorded four assists and Andrew Raycroft made 34 saves in Toronto’s 6-0 win over Ottawa on Thursday night… Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 40 shots as Pittsburgh shut out Philadelphia, 4-0… On Wednesday night, Loui Eriksson scored a goal in his NHL debut, helping Dallas to a 3-2 overtime win over Colorado… A total of 536 AHL graduates began the 2006-07 season on National Hockey League rosters.
BY THE NUMBERS:
7 — Number of bench bosses making their AHL head coaching debuts this season, including Bridgeport’s Dan Marshall, Lowell’s Kurt Kleinendorst, Manchester’s Mark Morris, Manitoba’s Scott Arniel, Philadelphia’s Craig Berube, Syracuse’s Ross Yates and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Todd Richards.
AHL ON B2 NETWORKS:
B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts of nearly every AHL game… Visit theahl.com for details.