WEEKLY RELEASE #5
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League is once again proving to be the training ground for a talented collection of rookies through the first month of the 2008-09 season, as several first-year pros are making strong cases to be the NHL stars of tomorrow.
Last season’s rookie class included Manchester right wing Teddy Purcell, whose 83 points led all freshmen and ranked third overall in the league, and helped earn him the Dudley “Red” Garrett Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie. Purcell also saw 10 games of NHL action with Los Angeles in 2007-08 and scored his first career NHL goal. Columbus’s Derick Brassard was recently named the Rookie of the Month for October in the NHL after earning the same honor twice in the AHL with Syracuse. Brian Boyle, Alex Goligoski, T.J. Hensick and Brian Lee have also seen NHL action this year after strong AHL rookie showings in 2007-08.
So far this season, a pair of Portland Pirates are setting the pace for the AHL’s first-year pros. Tim Kennedy currently leads AHL rookies with 17 points (4-13-17) and has found the scoresheet in 10 of Portland’s 11 games. Teammate Nathan Gerbe, who led the NCAA in scoring and won the national title with Boston College last year, shows an AHL rookie-high 10 goals and ranks second behind Kennedy with 15 points. Hershey’s powerful offense also boasts a pair of top rookie producers in 20-year-old forwards Oskar Osala and Mathieu Perreault, tied with 11 points on the year.
Syracuse teenagers Nikita Filatov and Maksim Mayorov are also out to fast starts to their rookie campaigns. Filatov, 18, was drafted sixth overall by Columbus in 2008 and has five goals and eight points in eight games for Syracuse and also scored his first career NHL goal in his debut for the Blue Jackets on Oct. 17. Mayorov, 19, has three goals and six assists in his first 12 games with Syracuse.
Claude Giroux, a first-round pick (22nd overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2006, ranks second on the Phantoms with 11 points (5-6-11) in 14 games. Grand Rapids’ Justin Abdelkader earned Reebok Edge/AHL Rookie of the Month honors for October and shows nine points (7-2-9) in 10 games. San Antonio’s Brett MacLean, who led the OHL with 61 goals last season for Oshawa, is the only rookie currently pacing his team in scoring. Other notable first-year scoring leaders in the early going include Hamilton’s Ben Maxwell (5-7-12), David Desharnais (4-6-10) and Max Pacioretty (1-8-9), Lowell’s Matt Halischuk (5-3-8) and Tyler Eckford (1-8-9), and Binghamton’s Zack Smith (8-2-10).
In goal, Bridgeport’s Peter Mannino (5-1-1, 2.50, .915), coming off a four-year career at the University of Denver, and Portland’s Jhonas Enroth (5-1-0, 2.67, .912), a 20-year-old rookie from Sweden, have helped their teams to spots atop their respective divisions. And Ben Bishop, a third-round draft choice in 2005, shows a 2.44 GAA in four games for Peoria (2-2-0) and has also collected his first NHL win in three appearances with St. Louis.
The AHL annually presents the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award to the player voted to be the league’s outstanding rookie. Previous winners include Terry Sawchuk, Roger Crozier, Darryl Sutter, Pelle Lindbergh, Steve Thomas, Ron Hextall, Brett Hull, Darcy Tucker, Daniel Briere and Brett Sterling.
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TWICE IS NICE … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Adam Berkhoel probably wishes the Penguins were playing the Lowell Devils more than twice this season.
A little more than two weeks after posting a 46-save whitewash of the Devils at the Tsongas Arena, Berkhoel made 26 saves in another shutout performance in Wilkes-Barre on Nov. 7, a 4-0 win for the Penguins. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton outscored Lowell 10-0 in the season series this year and holds a 4-0-0-0 all-time record against the third-year Devils.
Prior to this season, Berkhoel’s only shutout in the AHL came on Feb. 23, 2008, when he made 18 saves for Grand Rapids in a 1-0 win over Manitoba.
SHOOTING GALLERY … Providence only won one of three games last weekend (1-2-0-0), but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of pucks heading toward the net.
The Bruins racked up 36 shots in Friday’s 4-1 loss to Chicago and followed that up with an AHL season-high 59 in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win at Albany. Providence then fired 46 shots at Philadelphia goaltender Scott Munroe on Sunday, including 23 in the second period alone, but couldn’t get any of them past him in a 2-0 loss to the Phantoms.
In just over 100 minutes of hockey from the start of Saturday’s game through the end of the second period on Sunday, Providence outshot its opponents by a 99-39 margin. The B’s are now averaging 32.42 shots through 12 games this season, the fourth-highest total in the league.
TRICK OR TREAT … Even though Halloween has already come and gone, a pair of forwards were tricking the opposition in the form of three-goal games in Sunday’s action.
Lake Erie’s Chris Stewart, a second-year pro who was drafted 18th overall by Colorado in 2006, netted his first hat trick of the campaign and second of his career in a 6-4 win over Hamilton, a game in which the Monsters rallied for four goals in a 4:48 span late in the third period.
Kyle Greentree, also a second-year pro, tallied his first career hat trick on Sunday in Quad City’s 4-2 win at San Antonio. Greentree, who only had one multiple-goal game among his team-high 24 tallies for Philadelphia last season, scored twice on the power play and once into an empty net, and added an assist to factor into all four Flames goals on the evening.
ETC. … Syracuse, the last team with an unblemished home record this year (5-0-0-0), has now won 16 straight regular-season games on home ice… After giving up four power-play goals through their first 21 shorthanded situations this season, Grand Rapids penalty killers denied 25 straight opponent chances before Peoria’s Julian Talbot capitalized late in the second period on Saturday… Chicago, which scored a league-best 107 power-play goals in 2007-08, is just 3-for-69 (4.3 percent) this season, and has tallied more shorthanded goals (four) than PPG… Portland’s Mark Mancari, the AHL’s new scoring leader, has recorded 12 points (5-7-12) and a plus-9 rating in his last five games… Matt Moulson, who began the year in the NHL with Los Angeles, tallied his first two AHL goals of the season in Manchester’s 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago on Sunday… Manitoba’s Cory Schneider has allowed a total of 10 goals in his eight starts (7-1-0, 1.25, .945)… Worcester’s Tom Cavanagh saw his four-game goal-scoring streak (6-2-8) end in a 4-3 loss at Binghamton on Saturday… Hershey snapped an 0-for-37 skid on the power play when Kyle Wilson scored on the man advantage on Saturday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Bill Thomas scored the Penguins’ fourth shorthanded goal of the season in that game; Wilkes-Barre totaled four shorthanded tallies during the entire 2007-08 campaign… Quad City goaltender Leland Irving recorded the first win of his professional career on Sunday, making 17 saves in a 4-2 victory over San Antonio… Lowell’s Alexander Vasyunov netted his first three North American goals last week… Norfolk has allowed the game’s first goal in 11 of its 12 contests to date… Of the top 11 scorers in the AHL entering the week, only Hamilton’s Matt D’Agostini (tied for sixth with 16 points) plays in the Western Conference… After scoring 24 goals during a six-game winning streak from Oct. 12-26, Rockford has totaled just seven scored during its current five-game losing skid… The American Hockey League extends best wishes for a speedy recovery to Hershey Bears president and general manager Doug Yingst, who was injured in a fall at his home on Sunday.