WEEKLY RELEASE #13
TAKING IT OUTSIDE, PART I … The third outdoor game in AHL history is scheduled for Friday night, when the Adirondack Phantoms and Hershey Bears will meet at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
Friday’s game will be televised live at 7 p.m. ET on The Comcast Network in the Philadelphia area and on Sportsnet in all four broadcast regions across Canada. It will also re-air on NHL Network in the U.S. at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The Phantoms and Bears were fierce rivals during the 13 seasons that the Phantoms played at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, prior to moving to Glens Falls in 2009. During that time, the teams met on the ice more than 150 times in the regular season, faced off in four postseason series and combined for five Calder Cup championships.
Adirondack goaltender Michael Leighton is no stranger to the elements. Leighton, who is 11-11-0 (2.44, .920) in 23 appearances this season, was in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park on Jan. 1, 2010, making 24 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss to Boston in the NHL Winter Classic.
The game in Philadelphia is the first of two outdoor contests in the AHL this month. The Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies will skate at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., on Jan. 21.
FAREWELL, 2011 … The Houston Aeros had a memorable year in 2011, including the franchise’s second trip to the Calder Cup Finals. And among the 29 teams who were active throughout the calendar year, Houston also finished with the best regular-season record at 46-17-2-10 (.693 points percentage).
The Aeros saw head coach Mike Yeo promoted to Minnesota following last year’s Western Conference championship, but Houston hasn’t missed a beat under John Torchetti in 2011-12, entering the new year with a league-low seven regulation losses (18-7-2-7) and sitting three points out of first in the overall AHL standings.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had the second-best regular-season record in 2011 at 51-23-1-5 (.675), followed by Milwaukee (44-20-4-5, .664), Hershey (45-21-6-7, .652), Oklahoma City (44-24-2-8, .628), Abbotsford (44-25-5-3, .623) and Lake Erie (46-28-1-2, .617).
Hershey forward Keith Aucoin was far and away the top scorer in the AHL in 2011, netting 16 goals and 82 assists for 96 points in 69 regular-season games. Peoria’s T.J. Hensick was second in regular-season scoring for the year with 81 points (24 goals, 57 assists) in 69 games.
McCAMBRIDGE, NELSON HONORED … By virtue of their teams owning the highest points percentage in their respective conferences after play on Jan. 1, Keith McCambridge of St. John’s and Todd Nelson of Oklahoma City will serve as head coaches at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic in Atlantic City, Jan. 29-30.
In addition, one head coach from each conference will be selected by the American Hockey League to join the two coaching staffs for the event.
McCambridge, 37, is in his first season as an AHL head coach after serving as an assistant in Manitoba from 2009-11. His IceCaps have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 19-8-4-1 (.672), and sit one point out of first place in the conference with games in hand on co-leaders Manchester and Hershey. Nelson, a Calder Cup champion as both a player (Portland, 1994) and an assistant coach (Chicago, 2008), is in his second year at the helm of the Barons. At 22-8-1-3 (.706), Oklahoma City has the best record in the entire AHL.
Playing rosters for the Eastern and Western Conference teams will be announced Wednesday, and 2012 All-Star Classic Fan Balloting presented by Reebok gets under way Thursday with fans voting for the All-Star Game starting lineups.
PHANTOM FEATS … Two members of the Adirondack Phantoms reached impressive milestones when they took the ice at the Glens Falls Civic Center on New Year’s Eve. The 2-1 overtime win over Albany marked the 1,000th professional game (AHL and NHL) for Denis Hamel, as well as the 800th American Hockey League contest for Dan Jancevski.
Hamel, in his 15th pro season, has played in 808 games in the AHL with Adirondack, Binghamton and Rochester, as well as 192 more in the NHL with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Ottawa and Buffalo. Jancevski, who has never appeared in fewer than 74 games in any season, becomes the 33rd player – and just the 12th defenseman – ever to skate in 800 AHL matches.
QUICK HITS … Referees David Banfield and Jamie Koharski and linesmen Leo Boylan and Bob Goodman have been selected to officiate Friday’s outdoor game in Philadelphia… Veteran AHL referee Ryan Fraser worked the Dec. 31 Winter Classic Alumni Game alongside his father, Kerry… Across the league during a 10-game slate on Dec. 28, a total of 40 different players recorded multiple-point games, including four-point nights from Binghamton’s Rob Klinkhammer (1-3), Syracuse’s Peter Holland (2-2) and Lake Erie’s Evan Brophey (0-4)… In six games vs. Norfolk this season, Hershey forwards Chris Bourque (8-7-15), Keith Aucoin (3-10-13) and Jacob Micfiliker (4-8-12) have combined for 40 points… Toronto defeated St. John’s, 3-1, on Jan. 1, the IceCaps’ first regulation loss on the road all season (12-1-2-1)… With a 5-2 win over Springfield on New Year’s Eve, Connecticut improved to 52-14-1-3-3 (w-l-t-otl-sol) all-time at home vs. the Falcons… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 6-5 shootout win in Hershey on Dec. 28 was the Penguins’ ninth consecutive victory at Giant Center… Lake Erie managed just 11 shots on goal vs. Toronto on Dec. 29 but still earned a 2-1 victory over the Marlies; it was the fewest shots by a team in a regular-season AHL game since Springfield was held to 11 shots in a 3-0 loss to Worcester on Nov. 16, 2008… Average attendance in the AHL for the 52 games between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day was 6,371 fans per contest; the season average heading into the Christmas break was 4,960… The crowd of 9,771 fans for Rochester’s contest against Hamilton on Dec. 30 was the largest for an Amerks home game since Jan. 12, 2007 (10,136)… Including their 5-4 win in that game, six of the Bulldogs’ 13 victories this season have come against Rochester.