AHL Weekly Release

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … News and notes from the week ending Oct. 21, 2012:

Down five midway through the game, the Syracuse Crunch rallied for a 6-5 overtime victory in Binghamton on Saturday night.

After Mike Hoffman, Pat Cannone, Tyler Eckford, Derek Grant and Mark Borowiecki staked the Senators to a 5-0 lead, Cory Conacher, Mark Barberio, Brett Connolly, Ondrej Palat, J.T. Wyman and Richard Panik replied for the Crunch, with Wyman’s goal tying the game at 16:18 of the third period and Panik’s winning it 3:44 into OT.

Tyler Johnson recorded three assists and Dustin Tokarski stopped all 14 shots he faced in a relief appearance.

Tokarski, now 28-2-1 in his last 31 appearances including last year’s playoffs, allowed three goals on 62 shots (.952) in three outings over the weekend.

In another thriller on Saturday, the Rochester Americans fought back from deficits of 1-0, 5-2 and 6-5 and pulled out an 8-7 win over Hershey in a memorable 75th-anniversary home opener for the Bears.

Marcus Foligno, who spent part of his youth living in Hershey when his dad, Mike, was the Bears’ head coach from 1998-2003, gave the Amerks the lead for the first time – and for good – with 8:53 left in the third period. Foligno led Rochester’s offense with two goals and two assists, defenseman T.J. Brennan added two goals and an assist and Cody Hodgson tallied three helpers.

Former Rochester forward Jeff Taffe (1g, 3a) and blueliner Garrett Stafford (4a) both had four points in the loss for the Bears.

Of the 445 regular-season meetings all-time between the AHL’s two senior-most franchises, only one has seen more goals scored: an 11-5 win by Hershey in Rochester on Nov. 17, 1982.

The offensive fireworks in Binghamton and Hershey were just part of an impressive display at both ends of the ice on Saturday night in the AHL. While 51 players had multiple-point efforts and a total of 95 goals were scored across the 14-game schedule, there were also some strong goaltending performances to be had.

Toronto’s Jussi Rynnas (31 saves vs. Hamilton), Albany’s Keith Kinkaid (30 saves at Worcester) and San Antonio’s Dov Grumet-Morris (25 saves vs. Milwaukee) all recorded shutouts on Saturday, while neither Binghamton’s Robin Lehner (16 saves) nor Syracuse’s Dustin Tokarski (14 saves) allowed a goal in their 30-plus minutes of work during the Crunch’s 6-5 overtime win over the Senators. Dan Ellis stopped 35 of 36 shots in Charlotte’s 2-1 win at Rockford, besting the IceHogs’ Carter Hutton (40 saves). And Kevin Poulin made 34 saves as Bridgeport improved to 3-0-0-0 with a 3-2 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

With their net manned by a pair of 20-year-old rookies, the Lake Erie Monsters have raced out to the top of the North Division standings. Both drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2010, Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio have shared the goaltending duties for the Monsters so far, helping Lake Erie to wins in four of its first five contests by allowing a total of seven goals.

Pickard, who led the Western Hockey League in minutes played in each of his last three seasons with Seattle, enters this week having gone his last 122 minutes and 29 seconds without allowing a goal, including shutouts at Toronto on Oct. 14 (40 saves) and at Texas on Oct. 21 (25 saves).

Aittokallio is in his first season of North American hockey after playing with Ilves in his native Tampere, Finland, and representing his home country at the 2011 and 2012 World Junior Championships. Aittokallio has defeated Oklahoma City twice in his only two AHL starts, stopping 56 of 60 combined shots (2.00, .933).

The first AHL game of the season scheduled for a National Hockey League venue comes up on Tuesday night as the Rochester Americans head 75 miles west along the New York State Thruway to Buffalo, where they will host the Hamilton Bulldogs at the First Niagara Center.

For 30 years beginning in 1940, Buffalo was home to the AHL’s Bisons, five-time Calder Cup champions while playing out of the venerable Aud (Memorial Auditorium). The Bisons ceased operations after the NHL’s Sabres were born in 1970, and the Sabres and Amerks are in their 31st season as affiliates in 2012-13.

Other NHL cities scheduled to host AHL games in 2012-13 include Montreal, St. Paul, Washington, Raleigh and Philadelphia. The Toronto Marlies will play a home game at Air Canada Centre on Dec. 26, and Detroit will host an outdoor game between Toronto and Grand Rapids at Comerica Park on Dec. 30.

Match-ups to look forward to in the week ahead:

Lake Erie at Oklahoma City, Tuesday (8 ET) – Just 12 days into the season, Lake Erie and Oklahoma City meet for the fourth and final time in 2012-13. After the teams split a pair in Cleveland over opening weekend, the Monsters grabbed a 5-3 decision in OKC on Saturday to improve to 3-0-0-0 on the road so far.

Adirondack at Albany, Friday (7 ET) – The AHL’s take on the Flyers-Devils NHL rivalry resumes Friday night with the first of 12 meetings this season between these foes, separated by 50 miles in upstate New York. The Phantoms won seven of 10 get-togethers a year ago.

Bridgeport at Worcester, Friday (7:30 ET) and Sunday (3 ET) – Scott Pellerin, who played 73 games in two stints (1996-97, 2003-04) with the Worcester IceCats, returns to the DCU Center as a head coach for the first time, leading his 3-0-0-0 Sound Tigers in to face the Sharks (0-3-0-1).

Norfolk at St. John’s, Saturday (6 ET) and Sunday (2:30 ET) – While Norfolk swept St. John’s in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, most of the current Admirals’ personnel was part of the Syracuse club that lost in the first round to the IceCaps. Norfolk (4-0-0-0) enters the week as one of only two AHL teams left without a loss on the young season.

San Antonio at Chicago, Saturday (8 ET) – The last time San Antonio visited Allstate Arena, a double-overtime victory in a winner-take-all Game 5 sent the Rampage into the second round of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. Jacob Markstrom was 3-0 in that series with a .922 save percentage, including 37 stops in the clinching victory for San Antonio.

Here is this week’s broadcast schedule for national TV and radio. All games are also streamed at AHL Live (ahllive.com).

Fox Sports Detroit (DirecTV 663, Dish 430)
Friday – Charlotte at Grand Rapids, 7 ET

Fox Sports Ohio (DirecTV 660, Dish 425)
Saturday – Abbotsford at Lake Erie, 7:30 ET

SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (Sirius 207, XM 92)
Tuesday – Hamilton vs. Rochester, 7:30 ET
Wednesday – Connecticut at Albany, 7 ET
Thursday – San Antonio at Rockford, 8 ET
Friday – Charlotte at Grand Rapids, 7 ET
Saturday – Rochester at Adirondack, 7 ET
Sunday – Bridgeport at Worcester, 3 ET
Sunday – San Antonio at Rockford, 6 ET

Roman Horak, who scored three goals in 61 NHL games with Calgary as a rookie last season, has potted a goal in each of Abbotsford’s first four games this season… Hershey’s Jon DiSalvatore enters the week with 497 career AHL points; only 81 players in league history have reached the 500-point plateau… Keith Aucoin moved into fifth place on the AHL’s all-time assists list (557) with three helpers in Toronto’s 5-0 win over Hamilton on Saturday… Four Syracuse players – Cory Conacher (4-5-9), Tyler Johnson (5-3-8), Ondrej Palat (1-6-7) and Mark Barberio (2-4-6) – have all recorded a point in each of the Crunch’s first five games… Eighteen AHL players will carry scoring streaks of at least four games into the new week… Providence’s Jordan Caron and Norfolk’s Corey Elkins both recorded hat tricks on Friday night, the first three-goal games of the season in the AHL… Rookie defensemen Justin Schultz and Martin Marincin were both plus-5 in Oklahoma City’s 5-2 win over San Antonio on Friday night, setting a new Barons single-game record… Abbotsford leads the league in both power-play efficiency (6-for-16, 37.5 percent) and penalty killing (13-for-13) entering the new week; Lake Erie is second in both categories (7-for-20, 35.0 percent; 29-for-30, 96.7 percent)… Springfield started the season 3-0-0-0 for the first time in the franchise’s 19-year history, but the Falcons dropped a 3-1 decision to Providence on Saturday and are still looking for their first four-game winning streak since Dec. 23-30, 2006… Portland ranks second in the league in offense (4.67 goals scored per game), but 30th in defense (5.33 goals allowed per game)… Milwaukee has split its first four games despite having the lead for just 19:09 out of 240:51 played… Nine of Chicago’s 10 goals against this season have been allowed in the third period.