SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … News and notes from around the American Hockey League, where thrilling comebacks were the norm during the past week:
AHL Standings || Scores and Schedules || League Leaders
COMEBACK KIDS … There were 36 games played in the AHL last weekend, and 10 of them were won by teams who trailed at some point in the third period. In six of those cases, the game-tying goal was scored in the final five minutes of regulation.
The Lake Erie Monsters snapped a season-opening six-game losing streak with back-to-back third-period comebacks to close out the weekend. On Saturday night in Syracuse, Cameron Gaunce scored with 2:22 left in regulation and Stefan Elliott won it with his first professional goal at 3:24 of overtime as the Monsters edged the Crunch, 3-2. Then on Sunday in Toronto, Evan Brophey got the equalizer with 3:23 remaining before Tyson Barrie won it, 5-4, with his second goal of the game – and second of his pro career – at 1:21 of OT.
The most dramatic comeback of the weekend came at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, as Toronto turned a two-goal deficit with less than two minutes remaining into an overtime win over Rochester. With goaltender Ben Scrivens pulled for an extra attacker, Ryan Hamilton scored a power-play goal with 1:33 to play and Darryl Boyce knotted things up with 59 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Joe Colborne’s game-winner at 2:28 of OT.
ROAD, SWEET ROAD … Sure, it’s a relatively small sample size. But 99 games into the AHL’s 1,140-game regular season, home ice has been a disadvantage around the league.
Home teams have a plus-14 goal differential over their visitors – there have already been three 7-0 whitewashes and a 10-1 victory by home clubs this season – but it’s road teams who have compiled a record of 53-34-4-8 entering the new week, good for a .596 points percentage. By comparison, hosts are 46-39-7-7 (.535).
Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, who within the last two seasons posted the two highest overall wins totals in AHL history, are a combined 1-3-2-1 on their home ice this season but a perfect 7-0-0-0 combined on the road. Four other AHL teams have yet to suffer a defeat away from home: Abbotsford, Providence, St. John’s and San Antonio are all 2-0-0-0 on the road.
Milwaukee earned three of a possible four points during its trip to Abbotsford over the weekend, extending its AHL record to 20 consecutive regular-season road games without a regulation loss. The Admirals have gone 13-0-4-3 away from home since a 3-0 loss at Manitoba on Jan. 13, 2011, and the streak would be an even more impressive 26 games if you included Milwaukee’s 2011 postseason run.
SHOOT FIRST … The Norfolk Admirals lead the AHL in offense, averaging 4.43 goals per game (31 goals in seven games) en route to a 4-2-0-1 record. Norfolk is also putting up a remarkable 42.7 shots per game; the Admirals led the league with 34.5 shots per game in 2010-11.
Norfolk peppered Binghamton in a 7-0 win on Oct. 21, outshooting the Senators by a 53-14 margin.
KEARNS EARNS FIRST RECALL … A seventh-year pro with 341 games of AHL experience, Bracken Kearns made his National Hockey League debut with the Florida Panthers on Oct. 20, skating against the Buffalo Sabres.
The 30-year-old Kearns has spent time in the AHL with Cleveland, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Rockford and San Antonio, where he had three goals in three games this season prior to his recall. In his two-game stint with the Panthers, Kearns totaled more than 14 minutes of ice time.
More than 83 percent of the players currently in the NHL are graduates of the American Hockey League, and each year more than 300 players appear in a game in both leagues. Also making their NHL debuts last week were Portland’s Andy Miele (Phoenix), Adirondack’s Harry Zolnierczyk (Philadelphia) and Manchester’s Slava Voynov (Los Angeles).
LIVING LEGACE … An original Falcon returned to Springfield last week when goaltender Manny Legace signed a pro tryout with the club he broke in with 17 years ago. Legace, who has gone on to win 187 games and a Stanley Cup championship (Detroit, 2002) over 11 NHL seasons, made his professional debut with the Falcons on Oct. 1, 1994, in the team’s inaugural campaign.
Legace was named the third star of the game in his return to the MassMutual Center, stopping 20 of 22 shots in a 3-0 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Oct. 21. His signing in Springfield came on the heels of injuries to Mark Dekanich and Curtis Sanford in Columbus and the recall of rookie backstop Allen York by the Blue Jackets.
ETC. … Before earning his first recall by Phoenix, rookie forward Andy Miele had five points (2g, 3a) in Portland’s 5-3 win over Manchester on Oct. 19… Even after being held scoreless for the first time this season in a 7-0 loss to Hershey on Oct. 23, Syracuse forward Kyle Palmieri (8-2-10) has netted 23 goals in his last 20 AHL games… Houston rallied for a 3-2 win over Charlotte on Oct. 21, getting goals eight seconds apart from Casey Wellman and David McIntyre to tie the game in the third period before Jeff Taffe won it at 19:56… With 6-3-9 in his first seven games, Adirondack’s Denis Hamel is up to 321 goals for his AHL career, tying Bruce Cline for 13th place all-time… After losing its first three games of the season by a combined score of 15-3, Providence has gone 4-0-1-0 in its last five… Through eight games, Lake Erie has scored more overtime goals (2) than second-period goals (1) this season… Since allowing seven goals on opening night vs. Texas, Oklahoma City has allowed seven goals combined in five games (4-0-0-1)… Connecticut allowed a total of two goals in sweeping a three-in-three weekend… Two games after setting a franchise low with 13 shots on goal at Abbotsford on Oct. 16, Rockford matched a team AHL record with 48 shots vs. Chicago on Oct. 22… After losing all six visits to Giant Center in 2009-10, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has now won each of its last six games in Hershey.