ROAD WARRIORS … Nearly one-fifth of the way through the 2011-12 season, road teams are providing their hosts will all they can handle, challenging all-time marks along the way.
Entering the new week, AHL teams sported a combined record of 121-75-12-9 away from home, good for a .606 points percentage that is more than 100 points better than teams’ combined record on home ice (96-95-12-14, .502).
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ start perfectly illustrates the divide between road success and home struggles. The Pens are a perfect 8-0-0-0 on the road this season, outscoring their opponents 31-13, but have just one win in six tries at Mohegan Sun Arena (1-3-1-1) heading into Tuesday’s action. Going back to last year, Wilkes-Barre has won 12 straight regular-season road games; the AHL record is 15, set by the Penguins themselves over the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will tie that mark if it can sweep this weekend’s three-game road trip to Portland, Manchester and Worcester.
The Abbotsford Heat extended their own road winning streak to seven games with a win in San Antonio on Tuesday morning, and are now 9-1-0-0 away from home with three more road games on tap for this weekend. The Houston Aeros, locked with Abbotsford and Oklahoma City in a battle for first place in the West Division, are 5-1-0-1 on the road so far. The Milwaukee Admirals, 5-0-0-1 on enemy ice, have earned points in 22 consecutive regular-season road games (15-0-4-3), erasing a 63-year-old Cleveland Barons standard from the record books. And a 6-0-2-0 road mark for St. John’s has helped the IceCaps to the best overall record in the AHL.
DEVILS’ DELIGHT … In the midst of a 7-1-1-1 run, the Albany Devils have left a poor start behind them and sit in first place in the Northeast Division heading into the new week. It’s the best 10-game stretch for the Devils, who had lost five of their first six games to open the 2011-12 season, since an 8-2-0-0 run in the middle of the 2008-09 campaign when they were playing in Lowell.
Albany is succeeding with defense, allowing 19 non-shootout goals in the 10 games. Rookie goaltender Keith Kinkaid (4-3-0, 2.12, .926) stopped 56 of 57 shots in consecutive wins vs. Norfolk, including a 1-0 shutout of the Admirals on Nov. 4, and Jeff Frazee shut down Syracuse in a 1-0 win on Nov. 12.
Joe Whitney, a rookie out of Boston College, leads Albany with five goals and 10 points on the season. Defensemen Matthew Corrente (2-6-8) and Matt Taormina (3-4-7) are also among the team’s top point producers.
Albany’s only action this week is a visit to Hershey on Saturday.
RIVERMEN GO HOG WILD … Peoria swept a wild home-and-home set from Rockford over the weekend, getting offensive fireworks in the opener and standout goaltending in the finale.
The Rivermen held a 4-1 lead midway through the second period on Nov. 11, but found themselves trailing 6-4 until Phil McRae completed a hat trick with two power-play goals in the final 1:12 of regulation. Adam Cracknell then won it for Peoria, 7-6, at 3:31 of overtime. In the rematch the next night, Ben Bishop made 37 saves in Peoria’s 3-0 win over their upstate neighbors, his sixth victory in his last seven starts.
The teams have combined for 41 goals in their five meetings already this year, with Peoria forward T.J. Hensick (3-6-9) and Rockford defenseman Brian Connelly (1-8-9) leading all scorers in the season series.
HOMES AWAY FROM HOME … For the third year in a row, the Binghamton Senators and Hamilton Bulldogs are splitting a home-and-home series at the rinks of their respective NHL affiliates. The clubs met Nov. 13 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, and will hit the ice at Montreal’s Bell Centre this Friday night.
Attendance was 8,427 for Hamilton’s 5-2 win over the Senators in the first half of the series. Since 2008, attendance for the Bulldogs’ five home games in Montreal has been better than 14,500 per game.
ETC. … Cedrick Desjardins has stopped 142 of 149 shots in his five starts for Lake Erie, good for the AHL lead in goals-against average (1.41) and save percentage (.953)… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie Simon Despres, a first-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2009, has three goals this season; all three have been game-winners… Oklahoma City goaltenders Yann Danis and David LeNeveu have faced 141 third-period shots this season and allowed just four goals, a .972 save percentage… Hershey’s Keith Aucoin has tied AHL Hall of Famer Bill Sweeney for eighth place all-time with 510 career assists… Worcester totaled 96 shots in back-to-back losses to Manchester and Providence on Nov. 12-13, as the Monarchs’ Jeff Zatkoff stopped 46 of 47 shots and the Bruins’ Anton Khudobin turned aside 47 of 49… Grand Rapids set a franchise record for shots on goal in a road game (51) in an 8-0 win at Hamilton on Nov. 11, also tying a club mark for largest margin of victory… Since giving up three goals in three chances to Milwaukee on Oct. 14, Chicago has killed off 39 of 41 shorthanded situations (95.1 percent)… St. John’s has outscored Connecticut 8-0 in the third period of their three meetings this season, all come-from-behind IceCaps wins… Bridgeport’s 4-3 win in Hershey on Nov. 13 was the Sound Tigers’ first victory at Giant Center in more than four years (Nov. 3, 2007), a drought that included eight regular-season losses and three playoff defeats… Texas has scored more than one power-play goal in seven of its first 14 games.