SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … From now until January 7, American Hockey League fans logging on at theahl.com will be able to help decide which players will earn a trip to the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, to be held in Toronto on January 28-29.
Fan balloting will determine the starting lineups for both the Canadian and PlanetUSA AHL All-Star teams, and a committee of AHL coaches will help complete the rosters, which will be announced in mid-January.
By virtue of leading Hershey to the 2006 Calder Cup championship, Bears head coach Bruce Boudreau will guide one team; the coach whose club owns the best points percentage in the AHL after play on Jan. 14 will lead the other.
The host Canadian AHL All-Stars have won six of the last seven mid-season classics, and should once again bring plenty of offensive weapons to Toronto for this year’s event. Chicago’s Jason Krog and Darren Haydar are both Canadian-born, as are other dynamic duos in Norfolk’s Martin St. Pierre and Troy Brouwer, Hershey’s Eric Fehr and Alexandre Giroux and Manitoba’s Jason Jaffray and Brad Moran.
Canadian-born defensemen having noteworthy seasons include two-time All-Star Lawrence Nycholat in Hershey, Rochester’s Brandon Smith, Hartford’s Daniel Girardi, Milwaukee’s Sheldon Brookbank, Worcester’s Mathieu Biron and Hamilton’s Mathieu Roy.
Goaltenders up for consideration should include Omaha’s Curtis McElhinney, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jeff Deslauriers, Manchester’s Jason LaBarbera, Houston’s Josh Harding, Hershey’s Frederic Cassivi and Norfolk’s Corey Crawford.
The PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team could benefit this year from several members of an impressive class of rookies around the league, like AHL-leading goal-scorer Brett Sterling of Chicago, Ryan Callahan of Hartford, David Krejci of Providence, Marty Sertich of Iowa, Drew Stafford and Janis Sprukts of Rochester, Bill Thomas of San Antonio, Rob Schremp of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Joe Pavelski of Worcester, who has also scored four goals in eight NHL games with San Jose this season.
More standout rookies are among PlanetUSA’s top defensive candidates to go to Toronto, including Boris Valabik of Chicago, who leads the AHL in both plus/minus rating (+17) and penalty minutes (117), Peter Harrold of Manchester, Tom Gilbert of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Matt Lashoff of Providence and Chris Harrington of the hometown Toronto Marlies.
Among the goaltenders in the running for the three PlanetUSA roster spots are Hamilton’s Jaroslav Halak, Peoria’s Marek Schwarz, Rochester’s Craig Anderson, Springfield’s Karri Ramo, Iowa’s Tobias Stephan and Grand Rapids’ Jimmy Howard.
Of the 394 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 92 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Daniel Briere, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Dwayne Roloson, Marc Savard, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal, Steve Sullivan and Kyle Wellwood.
ALLISON FINALLY LIGHTS LAMP … Binghamton defenseman Jamie Allison ended quite the drought with his shorthanded goal in the Senators’ 5-2 loss to Norfolk on Friday night. It was his first goal in nearly six years, since Jan. 9, 2001, when he was playing for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks against the New York Islanders.
Allison, a former second-round draft pick by the Calgary Flames, now shows 15 goals in 537 career regular-season games during his 11 professional seasons.
CASSIVI JOINS THE 200 CLUB … Hershey goaltender Frederic Cassivi achieved an impressive milestone on Wednesday night when he earned his 200th career AHL victory in the Bears’ 3-2 overtime win at Norfolk.
Cassivi is the 11th goalie in AHL history to reach that plateau, and the eighth of those 11 to have played part of his career for Hershey.
Cassivi posted two more wins over the Admirals before the week was out, helping the Bears move into first place in the East Division with a league-leading 40 points on the season. Cassivi currently sits tied with Jean-Francois Labbe for 10th place all-time with 202 victories, one win behind Neil Little.
ETC. … In his last 80 games, including playoffs, Chicago’s Darren Haydar has recorded 51 goals and 74 assists for 125 points… He is five games shy of matching Mike Richard’s AHL-record 31-game scoring streak, set with the Binghamton Whalers in 1987-88… Wolves teammate Jason Krog has his own 25-game streak intact (19g, 33a)… On Wednesday night, Bridgeport rookie Blake Comeau scored the game-tying goal with 4:10 left in regulation and assisted on the game-winner in overtime vs. Binghamton; on Thursday, he made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders… Rookie Ryan Callahan has scored a goal in six straight games for Hartford, the longest such streak in Wolf Pack history… Daniel Carcillo has a goal in five straight for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Drew MacIntyre stopped 62 of 63 shots in Manitoba’s two-game sweep of visiting Peoria over the weekend… Behind Brent Krahn and Curtis McElhinney, Omaha shut out Houston in each of the teams’ first three meetings this season; the Aeros finally got on the board Saturday night, but eventually lost a 4-3 decision in a 13-round shootout… Rookie Rod Pelley had a hat trick in Lowell’s 6-4 win at Hartford on Saturday night… Six of Syracuse forward Joe Motzko’s seven goals this season have been unassisted… Milwaukee went 5-4-0-1 on its 10-game road trip, the longest in franchise history… After swapping road wins over the weekend, the visiting club has won each of the last eight meetings between Grand Rapids and Toronto, including playoffs… Manchester is 6-0-3-0 in its last nine home games… Hershey, which leads the AHL with 12 shorthanded goals scored, is also the only team not to allow a shorthanded marker this season… Four points separate the top six teams in the Atlantic Division, with last-place Hartford just 10 points out of the top spot.