WEEKLY RELEASE #12
AHL Standings || Scores and Schedules || League Leaders
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … News and notes from around the American Hockey League, where a three-day layoff helped light some offensive sparks:
SIX SHOTS A-SCORING … The AHL schedule resumed on Boxing Day and offenses started popping like Christmas crackers, as Hamilton, Binghamton and Milwaukee all won games in which they scored six consecutive goals during one stretch.
With a crowd of 13,238 fans on hand at the Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Marlies raced out to a 3-0 lead just 5:19 into their game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. But the visitors bounced back with six unanswered goals – including two by Olivier Fortier – to take a 6-3 win in the second meeting of the season between the provincial rivals.
Binghamton fell behind Albany by a 2-1 score after the Devils scored twice early in the second period, but the Senators scored the next six goals of the game – in a span of 17:17 – en route to an 8-3 victory. Stephane Da Costa finished the night with his first professional hat trick and reigning AHL MVP Corey Locke, who missed seven weeks due to injury earlier this season, netted his first goal of the year.
The script was similar in Milwaukee, where Rockford scored two quick goals to take a 2-1 second-period lead before the Admirals erupted for six straight tallies. Mark Van Guilder scored twice – his third two-goal game in his last five outings – and the home team finished 5-for-7 on the power play in the 7-3 win.
There were also three overtime goals scored on Dec. 26. John McCarthy’s goal at 2:56 of the extra frame gave Worcester a 3-2 win over Portland in a game the Sharks had trailed, 2-0. Jordan Schroeder’s eighth goal of the season was also his league-leading fifth game-winner as Chicago edged Peoria, 4-3. And Jeff Taffe scored 63 seconds into OT as Houston defeated San Antonio, 2-1 – the Aeros’ first win in 10 trips beyond regulation this season.
MEMORABLE WEEK FOR FOLIGNO … If there’s no place like home for the holidays, rookie forward Marcus Foligno was fortunate to have family nearby for his whirlwind week before Christmas. Foligno, a Buffalo native whose dad, Mike, played 10 seasons for the Sabres, made his NHL debut for his hometown team on Dec. 20 at Ottawa – against a Senators club that includes his older brother, Nick.
Reassigned to Rochester after skating more than 13 minutes in his debut, Marcus Foligno dressed for his fifth game in six nights on Dec. 21 and contributed a goal and an assist in the Americans’ 4-1 win over Lake Erie.
Foligno, who has 10 goals and four assists in 28 AHL games on the year, is one of seven Amerks who have made their NHL debuts with Buffalo this season. Derek Whitmore, a fourth-year pro and fellow Western New York native, appeared in his first NHL contest alongside Foligno on Dec. 20.
CLOSE CALLS … Oklahoma City owns the best record in the AHL at 21-7-0-2, but the Barons aren’t making it easy on themselves. A league-high 20 of the team’s first 30 games were decided by a single goal, with OKC going 13-5-0-2 in those contests.
Not surprisingly, the AHL’s five other division leaders – Manchester (13-3-0-2), Connecticut (9-4-1-3), Hershey (7-3-3-2), Toronto (8-3-3-1) and Milwaukee (7-1-0-1) – all have impressive records in one-goal affairs also, while Albany is the only remaining AHL team that has not lost a one-goal decision in regulation this season (11-0-3-2).
In addition to their prowess in close games, Oklahoma City is the only team in the league that is still unblemished when taking a lead into the locker room. The Barons are 11-0-0-0 when leading after 20 minutes, and 13-0-0-0 when ahead after two periods.
ALL-STAR COACH DEADLINE NEARS … By the end of this week, the head coaches will be determined for the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held Jan. 29-30 in Atlantic City, N.J. The head coach whose team has the best record in each conference at the end of play on Jan. 1 will lead that conference’s All-Star squad at Boardwalk Hall.
Through Dec. 26, Keith McCambridge of the St. John’s IceCaps (.672 points percentage) holds a slim lead in the Eastern Conference over Hershey’s Mark French (.650) and Connecticut’s Ken Gernander (.633). Also in the hunt are Manchester’s Mark Morris (.625), Norfolk’s Jon Cooper (.617), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s John Hynes (.617) and Worcester’s Roy Sommer (.607).
In the Western Conference, Todd Nelson of the Oklahoma City Barons (.733 points percentage) is leading a group ofo prospective All-Star coaches that includes Milwaukee’s Ian Herbers (.685), Abbotsford’s Troy Ward (.677), and Houston’s John Torchetti (.672).
In addition, one head coach from each conference will be selected by the American Hockey League to serve as assistant coaches at the All-Star Classic.
Playing rosters for the Eastern and Western Conference teams will be announced on Jan. 4. 2012 All-Star Classic Fan Balloting presented by Reebok gets under way on Jan. 5, with fans voting for the All-Star Game starting lineups.
JOHNNY WILSON (1929-2011) … Johnny Wilson, who coached the Springfield Kings to a Calder Cup championship 40 years ago, passed away on Dec. 27 at the age of 82.
Wilson spent part of his 15-year professional playing career in the AHL with Indianapolis and Rochester. In 1970-71, he guided a Springfield club that had finished six games under .500 in the regular season to a Calder Cup title, defeating a Providence Reds team coached by his brother, Larry, in the Finals.