WEEKLY RELEASE #9
AHL Standings || Scores and Schedules || League Leaders
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … News and notes from around the American Hockey League, where good things are coming in twos:
DYNAMIC DUOS … Keith Aucoin and Chris Bourque won Calder Cups together with the Hershey Bears in 2009 and 2010. Now reunited after a one-year separation, the two have teamed up to be one of several dynamic offensive duos in the American Hockey League this season.
Aucoin, bidding for his second AHL scoring title in three years, leads the league with 30 assists and 36 points in 23 games, including 2-13-15 in his last seven contests and eight points in four games last week as he earned Reebok/AHL Player of the Week honors.
Bourque ranks second to Aucoin with 32 points (11-21) on the year, and after being held without a point over four consecutive games from Oct. 29 to Nov. 9, he has responded with an 11-game scoring streak (5-13-18) that is the longest in the league this season.
Other torrid twosomes hanging out among the top scorers in the AHL include Peoria’s T.J. Hensick (8-23-31) and Brett Sterling (12-12-13), Norfolk’s Cory Conacher (12-13-25) and Trevor Smith (10-15-25), and Grand Rapids’ Gustav Nyquist (7-17-24) and Chris Conner (7-16-23). Two other Bears teammates of Aucoin and Bourque’s – Jacob Micflikier (9-16-25) and Graham Mink (10-12-22) – are also in the top 20.
In 75 previous seasons of AHL history, teammates have finished 1-2 in league scoring on 16 occasions, most recently when Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux occupied the top two spots as members of the Bears in both 2008-09 and 2009-10. Syracuse Stars forward Jack Markle and Eddie Convey were the first teammates to finish as the AHL’s two high scorers, in 1937-38.
BOURQUE BOWL I … On Nov. 29, Chris Bourque was on the ice to face his younger brother, Connecticut rookie Ryan Bourque, for the first time as professionals. Chris got two points on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist for the Bears, but Ryan and the Whale got two points in the standings with a 4-2 win.
Chris and Ryan, sons of Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, are scheduled to meet again this week as Hershey visits Connecticut on Friday night.
A DEFINITE PLUS … Peoria Rivermen rookie Cade Fairchild has had a memorable start to his professional career, rating among the top young defensemen in the American Hockey League and making his National Hockey League debut as well.
Fairchild leads the entire AHL with a plus-18 rating in 21 games this season; his minus-1 vs. Milwaukee on Dec. 3 is the only game in which he has not finished even or better. Fairchild also ranks fifth among AHL rookie defensemen in scoring with 11 points (two goals, nine assists) for Peoria this season.
A fourth-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2007, the 22-year-old Fairchild played four seasons at the University of Minnesota before signing an entry-level contract with the Blues last spring. He made his NHL debut with St. Louis in a 2-1 win at Washington on Nov. 29.
LIKE FATHERS, LIKE SONS … Grand Rapids is getting contributions from many rookies this season, including a pair that stepped up offensively last week. Louis-Marc Aubry recorded a goal and two assists in a 6-3 win over Toronto on Dec. 2 after totaling two points in his first 14 games, and Landon Ferraro extended his scoring streak to four games, including scoring the overtime goal in a 4-3 win at Toronto on Nov. 29.
Aubry and Ferraro both have the distinction of having fathers – Pierre Aubry and Ray Ferraro – who played in both the AHL and NHL.
HAMEL JOINS ELITE COMPANY … When Adirondack Phantoms forward Denis Hamel capped the scoring in a 5-1 win at Norfolk on Dec. 2, he joined a name very familiar to hockey fans in Glens Falls on the league’s all-time scoring list.
The tally moved Hamel into a tie with Adirondack legend Glenn Merkosky for 12th place on the league’s career goal-scoring chart. Merkosky played six seasons with the Adirondack Red Wings from 1985-91 – winning two Calder Cup championships – and is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals, assists and points. One of the inaugural inductees into the Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame, Merkosky later spent three seasons as the A-Wings’ head coach, and continues to reside in Glens Falls while serving as a scout for the Detroit Red Wings.
Hamel, who enters the new week with 325 goals and 300 assists for 625 points in 798 career AHL games, has 10 goals and 20 points this season to lead the Phantoms in scoring.
QUICK HITS … Manchester’s Marc-Andre Cliche scored shootout goals in back-to-back Monarchs wins over the weekend, and is now 4-for-4 in shootout attempts this season after entering the year 0-for-4 in his career… Matt Irwin’s seventh goal of the season – tied for the lead among AHL defenseman – came at 2:22 of overtime on Dec. 2 and gave Worcester a 4-3 win over Springfield; it was Irwin’s first even-strength goal of the year… Fans at the Giant Center tossed 10,119 stuffed animals onto the ice after the home team’s first goal in a 7-1 Hershey win over Portland on Dec. 3; the toys were collected for donation to local charities and children in need this holiday season… After falling behind 3-1, Connecticut scored five power-play goals in the third period to pull out a 6-3 win over Springfield on Dec. 3… With its 4-2 victory at Ricoh Coliseum on Dec. 4, St. John’s remained the only team in the AHL without a regulation loss on the road (8-0-2-0) while handing Toronto its first regulation loss at home (7-1-2-0)… The IceCaps rank first in the AHL in road power play (28.6 percent) and road penalty killing (93.2 percent); at home they are 26th on the PP (12.7 percent) and 30th on the PK (67.4 percent)… Milwaukee is 12-0-0-1 this season when allowing two goals or fewer in a game, 1-6-0-0 when giving up three or more… After surrendering eight goals on 19 shots in an 8-3 loss to Milwaukee on Nov. 29, Abbotsford allowed four goals total in winning three weekend games against Chicago (twice) and Rockford… Albany is 7-0-1-1 in its last nine home games… The AHL’s top four offenses – St. John’s, Norfolk, Hershey and Syracuse – play in the Eastern Conference, while the top three defenses – Oklahoma City, Abbotsford and Charlotte – are in the Western Conference.