WEEKLY RELEASE #10
WING AND A PRAYER … The Worcester Sharks took on the conference-leading St. John’s IceCaps in a two-game series at Mile One Centre, and packed up four points for the trip home thanks largely to some late heroics.
The Sharks, who lost twice to the IceCaps when St. John’s visited Worcester last month, fell behind 3-1 in both weekend games but rallied to become the first team in eight tries this season to earn back-to-back regulation wins over the ’Caps at Mile One.
Second-year pro Tommy Wingels, a 2008 draft pick by San Jose with eight career NHL games already to his credit, capped both Worcester comebacks. On Friday night, his goal with 4:07 remaining in regulation broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Sharks a 4-3 victory. In Sunday afternoon’s rematch, Wingels scored two of Worcester’s four third-period goals, including the game-winner with just 1:25 to play.
The Sharks, with points in five straight games entering the new week (4-0-0-1), sit at 10-6-3-3 for the season and are an impressive 4-1-3-2 on the road.
HELLO, MY NAME IS… … It took two months for Toronto and Hamilton to kick off their 12-game season series, but it was worth the wait.
Greg Scott and Jerry D’Amigo scored for the Marlies and Ben Scrivens made 26 saves as the Marlies came away with a 2-1 victory in a spirited tussle at Copps Coliseum on Dec. 9. Andreas Engqvist scored the Bulldogs’ goal and Nathan Lawson finished with 26 stops in defeat.
The Marlies and Bulldogs will next meet in a Boxing Day matinee at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and their four January meetings will be highlighted by the 2012 Molson AHL Outdoor Classic at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton on Jan. 21.
AHL’S 700 CLUB WELCOMES NEW MEMBER … Already one of the most decorated players in recent AHL history, Darren Haydar reached another impressive milestone last week. With a first-period assist on Sebastian Erixon’s goal vs. Milwaukee on Dec. 10, the Haydar became the 22nd player in the league’s 76-year history to record 700 career points.
Haydar, in his 10th pro season, already boasts an AHL résumé that includes two Calder Cups, an MVP award, a scoring title, two All-Star Game appearances and the league’s Rookie of the Year honor, and he is also the all-time scoring leader in Calder Cup postseason play.
The Milton, Ont., native, who needed exactly 100 games to go from 600 to 700 points, added a goal in the 4-2 Wolves win and finished the week with 701 points in 662 career AHL contests for Chicago (2006-08, 10- ), Lake Erie (2009-10), Grand Rapids (2008-09) and Milwaukee (2002-06).
UNFRIENDLY FIRE … The Houston Aeros own the second-best record in the American Hockey League, and have just one regulation loss in their last 13 games. But when things are still tied after 60 minutes, the Aeros have been grounded.
Houston has not won a game past regulation in 2011-12; saddled with an 0-2 record in overtime and an 0-6 mark in shootouts, Houston enters the week one point behind first-place Oklahoma City rather than at the head of the pack. In shootouts, Aeros goaltenders are stopping 69.4 percent of opponents’ attempts – just above the league average of 68.4 percent – but Houston shooters have converted on only four of 37 tries (10.8 percent).
STARS IN THEIR EYES … With the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic in Atlantic City on the horizon, it’s not just the players around the American Hockey League who are bidding for berths in the showcase event.
The head coach of the team with the best points percentage in each conference after play on Jan. 1 will be named that conference’s head coach for the AHL All-Star Classic, which will take place Jan. 29-30.
In addition, one head coach from each conference will be selected by league president David Andrews to fill out the all-star coaching staffs.
Rosters for the All-Star Classic will be announced on Jan. 4, and AHL fans will determine the starting lineups for the event when AHL All-Star Fan Balloting presented by Reebok gets under way on Jan. 5.
QUICK HITS … Houston rookie Darcy Kuemper, filling in for a recalled Matt Hackett, went 2-0-2 and stopped 130 of 134 shots (0.96, .970) for the Aeros in four starts last week and was named Reebok/AHL Player of the Week… Hackett, meanwhile, allowed two goals on 76 shots in the first two appearances of his NHL career for Minnesota and was selected as the NHL’s Second Star of the Week… With Leland Irving on recall to Calgary, Danny Taylor stopped 87 of 89 shots in his first three starts for Abbotsford… Entering the week, three of Scott Munroe’s four wins (4-2-2) and two of his three shutouts for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season have come against Binghamton… Trevor Smith notched 3-5-8 in three games for Norfolk last week… Providence forward Josh Hennessy has 4-4-8 in six games vs. Manchester this season, and 4-3-7 in 20 games vs. the rest of the AHL… Hershey defenseman Tomas Kundratek began the season with 0-2-2 in his first 12 games, but finished last week on a six-game scoring streak (4-2-6)… Abbotsford is 14-3-0-0 on the road this season; the Heat won 16 road games all of last year (16-18-2-4)… Hershey’s power play is clicking at 30.8 percent overall (36-for-117), and 35.8 percent (24-for-67) in 13 home games this season… With its 3-2 shootout win over Grand Rapids on Dec. 10, Rockford improved to 18-4-0-3 all-time against the Griffins, including 11-1-0-1 at the BMO Harris Bank Center… West Division teams are 19-5-0-1 versus North Division foes this season.