SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews has presented numerous awards and trophies during his 16-plus years at the helm. On Wednesday evening in Boston, though, Andrews will receive a much-deserved recognition of his own when he accepts the Lester Patrick Trophy from the NHL and USA Hockey for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
One of the most prestigious awards in hockey, the Lester Patrick Trophy was presented to the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1966 to honor the memory of Mr. Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach, and general manager. During his 20-plus year tenure with the Rangers, Patrick won two Stanley Cups as head coach (1928, 1933) and one more as the GM (1940).
Along with his fellow 2010 recipients – Boston Bruins legend Cam Neely, Boston College head coach Jerry York, and Boston University bench boss Jack Parker – Andrews will join an impressive list of past honorees which includes many names with strong ties to the American Hockey League. Former AHL presidents John Sollenberger (1971) and Jack Butterfield (1985) and longtime executives James Hendy (1970) and Frank Mathers (1987) are among the more than two dozen AHL alumni who have earned the Lester Patrick Trophy. The group also includes Emile Francis (1982) and Fred Shero (1980), who were teammates on the Cleveland Barons’ 1954 Calder Cup championship team; Terry Sawchuk (1981), a 1950 Calder Cup champion with Indianapolis; and Milt Schmidt (1996), who played for the Providence Reds in the AHL’s inaugural 1936-37 season.
Andrews has overseen a period of unprecedented growth since taking over the AHL presidency in 1994. The league’s membership has grown from 16 teams in 1994-95 to 30 teams this year, allowing for each National Hockey League club to have its own primary development affiliate in the AHL. By the end of the 2009-10 season, more than 85 percent of all players in the National Hockey League had previous AHL experience.
Under Andrews’ leadership, the American Hockey League has grown to one which now boasts successful franchises both in major North American markets like Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Toronto and Winnipeg, as well as in smaller historical markets like Hershey, Portland, Providence, Rochester and Springfield. League attendance has more than doubled during Andrews’ tenure, and the AHL and its teams have been showcased to worldwide television audiences on networks like CBC, TSN and NHL Network.
A native of Nova Scotia, Andrews came to the league office after spending seven years as the Edmonton Oilers’ director of AHL operations, including the Cape Breton Oilers’ 1993 Calder Cup championship season. He was previously a senior consultant with SportCanada and head coach and director of hockey operations for the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Cougars, and he has previously been honored with induction into the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame (2005) and the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame (2006).
Andrews will receive the Lester Patrick Award on Wednesday evening at a ceremony to be held at the TD Garden in Boston.
STILL PERFECT … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton enters the new week as the AHL’s only remaining team yet to suffer a defeat this season, as a pair of weekend victories brought the Penguins’ mark to 6-0-0-0. This is their best start to a season since rattling off a franchise-record nine consecutive victories to begin the 2005-06 campaign.
The Pens rank second in the AHL in fewest goals allowed per game (2.00), having surrendered just 12 tallies in their first six contests. Returning goaltenders John Curry (1.62, .941) and Brad Thiessen (2.27, .928) are each out to a 3-0-0 start, and five of Wilkes-Barre’s six victories have come by a one-goal margin. Offensively, Joe Vitale shows a team-best four goals (4-1-5) after totaling six (6-26-32) as a rookie last year, and third-year pro Dustin Jeffrey leads the club with seven points (2-5-7) in the early going.
MONARCHS, RAMPAGE STREAKING … The Manchester Monarchs and San Antonio Rampage both used impressive 3-0-0-0 weekends to move into second place in their respective divisions through three weeks of play.
The Monarchs outscored Bridgeport, Springfield, and Charlotte 11-5 in taking a trio of wins on the weekend. Rookie forward Brandon Kozun racked up four points (2-2-4) and a plus-4 rating in the three contests, and the 20-year-old is now tied for the AHL rookie lead in goals (5) and tied for second in points (7) through eight games overall. Martin Jones, the Western Hockey League’s goaltender of the year in 2009-10 who was 108-28-9 in four seasons at Calgary, stopped 36 of 37 shots in his AHL debut, a 2-1 win over Charlotte on Sunday. Manchester now sits at 5-2-0-1 (11 points) overall, one point back of Portland for the Atlantic Division’s top spot.
Meanwhile, San Antonio has used a five-game winning streak – its longest since a seven-game run from Mar. 26 to Apr. 11, 2009 – to keep pace with front-running Peoria in the West Division. After their perfect weekend, including a 4-1 win over Peoria on Sunday, the Rampage are 6-2-1-0 (13 points) and one point back of first place. Goaltender Al Montoya had not won a game since Oct. 18, 2009, before stopping 54 of 56 shots (.964) in a pair of weekend victories, and counterpart Matt Climie blanked Houston on 26 shots Saturday. Mathieu Beaudoin is tied for second in the AHL in both goals (6) and points (12), and former AHL All-Star Brett MacLean shows six points (2-4-6) in his last four games after managing just one goal in his first five outings of 2010-11.
ETC. … Adirondack defenseman Dan Jancevski, a 2007 Calder Cup champion with Hamilton and 2010 finalist with Texas, appeared in his 700th career AHL regular-season game on Friday vs. Charlotte… With wins in Rochester and Toronto last weekend, Grand Rapids has won four straight road games for the first time since beginning the 2007-08 season with a 5-0-0-0 mark away from Van Andel Arena… The Griffins’ Thomas McCollum snapped a personal 0-9-2 road winless skid by earning both victories on the weekend, his first wins away from home since Dec. 13, 2009… Binghamton goaltender Barry Brust, who surrendered seven goals on 39 shots vs. Norfolk on Oct. 9, has allowed just four goals on 126 shots (.968) in four appearances since (2-1-1)… Rockford, which was 4-24-0-2 when trailing after two periods in 2009-10, is already 2-3-0-0 in that situation this season… Houston, blanked in consecutive games last week, had gone 157:15 of hockey without a goal before Joel Broda snapped the drought late in the first period on Sunday vs. Lake Erie… Jeremy Williams’ goal in the third period vs. Syracuse on Saturday ended Hartford’s scoreless skid at 158:18… Keith Aucoin (3-10-13) and Andrew Gordon (6-5-11) have both recorded points in all seven Hershey games this season… Prior to a five-goal outburst in the third period of Friday’s 6-2 win over Portland, Springfield hadn’t scored as many as five goals in a period since racking up six in the first period of a 14-2 win vs. Providence on Dec. 30, 1999… Worcester has scored nine of its 17 goals this season on the power play (52.9 percent)… Syracuse, which has taken a league-low 18.7 shots on goal per game, has made up for its lack of offense by ranking first in the league in goals against (1.83 per game) and penalty killing (30-for-31, 96.8 percent)… Oklahoma City had killed off 35 consecutive shorthanded situations before allowing a goal to Hamilton’s Brendon Nash on Sunday afternoon… Charlotte’s Zack FitzGerald, who has led the AHL in minor penalties each of the last two seasons, has already been whistled for 17 minors this year, more than double any other player’s total.